[Adv/Disc]Is it Insecurity If It's True?...

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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:15 pm

I've noticed that "insecurity" frequently seems to be used to mean "anything negative we say about ourselves." For example, I finally finished my Victorian ball gown and wore it to a ball on Saturday. Don't get me wrong, I was extremely pleased with how it turned out, but it was very clearly my first gown. I hadn't hemmed the skirts correctly, my bustle wasn't well-done, I hadn't fully edge-stitched the bodice so I had stray threads sticking out, the shoulders were improperly fitted... etc, etc. Standing among professional costumers who have been making costumes for decades, I was a hot mess. What troubled me is that I never really got to acknowledge this. Whenever people said they liked my gown, I sincerely said thank you. But if the conversation went much further ("So where did you get that skirt?"), I tried to talk about how this was my first gown, I'm still new to sewing, etc. Whenever I tried though, people got very uncomfortable, and I got the "insecure" label. But-but the gown is clearly amateur! I don't understand why it's "insecurity" to acknowledge this.

Similarly, I visit forums where guys frequently make negative comments about certain body types. However, whenever I've spoken up about considering surgery, or the difficulty of dating while <Body Type>, these same guys slap me down as being "insecure." To quote," Your insecurity is way more unattractive." But-but, you just spent an entire thread waxing philosophic about how my body shape is unattractive! So I'm supposed to fully absorb your thoughts about how unattractive I am, but not be sad, upset, or lose confidence over the fact that I'm unattractive? I just-what? WHAT?!

I just really do not get it. I do not get it at all, and I do not understand how to reconcile this idea that we can't acknowledge negative things about ourselves that are clearly staring us in the face. What am I missing here?
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Post by The Wisp on Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:27 pm

Consider that there are relative levels of competence. Your gown may have been amateurish compared to the best who have been doing it for years, but to a normal person who has never made a scarf in their life, let alone a gown, it's still probably pretty impressive.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:37 pm

The Wisp wrote:Consider that there are relative levels of competence. Your gown may have been amateurish compared to the best who have been doing it for years, but to a normal person who has never made a scarf in their life, let alone a gown, it's still probably pretty impressive.

But doesn't context/competence matter in all directions? I mean, I was in a group of people who are the best. I was the most amateur one there. So in that context, why is it insecurity to acknowledge that?

... I also continue to be confused by people who are impressed by bad sewing. I mean, grab any average person off the street and give them the same amount of experience I've had, and they'd blow me out of the water, technique-wise. So it's not as if I'm all that impressive, even from a beginner's stand-point (hell, some straight-up beginners do better than me), so why be impressed by it? I do not get it...
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Post by Werel on Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:47 pm

The "insecurity" label tends to get slapped on instances where someone brings up their own deficiencies or failings, without (sufficient) prompting-- in other words, when you force your interlocutor to interact with your bad feelings about yourself. Which, generally, nobody finds fun.

That sounds like the ball gown example: people wanted to make pleasant smalltalk, maybe dish out a compliment or two, and instead found themselves needing to address your opinions of your own abilities. That's a heavy load to place on a casual, fleeting interaction. Everyone knows exactly what it's like to feel negatively about their own worth or skill, and it's a headspace that most people find unpleasant to be in OR deal with in others-- partly because it can remind people of their own negative assessments of themselves. I think you yourself have noted that when people who have [X quality you feel you lack] get down on themselves about their [X quality], e.g. people you think are pretty calling themselves ugly, it can make you feel even worse-- "If you, who have X, feel your X is insufficient, what am I by comparison??" If someone giving you a compliment on your ball gown couldn't even pull off a circle skirt that didn't look all janky, and they had to deal with you saying YOUR work was subpar, what would they have to conclude about their own work?

So no, "insecurity" is not about whether or not a negative assessment of yourself is true or not; it's about where, how often, and in what manner you make others interact with that negative assessment.

(The "reading forums where dudes make fun of body types" example just sounds like classic Don't Read the Comments Section. Many parts of the internet are not for reasoned discourse, and it sounds like that's one of 'em, and fuck those people. Wink )
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Post by Enail on Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:49 pm

It seems like you're assuming that everyone will evaluate things in exactly the same way you will, and that they're assuming that you should evaluate things the same way they do.

For your example with the skirt, I think it's a fair guess that the person who you were talking to took it for a professional job ("where did you get it," is not how people usually phrase it if they think it looks handmade and amateur), and I suspect that, because you felt like they really should know how un-pro it was, you sounded like you were downplaying it excessively for what to them seemed a much more skilled work than that level of "acknowledging amateur-ness" would suggest. Mismatch between their perception and your level of modesty.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:58 pm

Enail wrote:It seems like you're assuming that everyone will evaluate things in exactly the same way you will, and that they're assuming that you should evaluate things the same way they do.

But I guess that's what confuses me about this situation. These are professional costumers-every single person there was wearing a costume that was far better constructed and put together than mine was. These are costumers and sewers, so why wouldn't they evaluate a costume on construction/costume/sewing criteria? I mean, that's kind of part of the experience, right?

Enail wrote:
For your example with the skirt, I think it's a fair guess that the person who you were talking to took it for a professional job ("where did you get it," is not how people usually phrase it if they think it looks handmade and amateur), and I suspect that, because you felt like they really should know how un-pro it was, you sounded like you were downplaying it excessively for what to them seemed a much more skilled work than that level of "acknowledging amateur-ness" would suggest. Mismatch between their perception and your level of modesty.

I guess I find it very, very hard to believe they couldn't recognize it was amateur. I felt the "where did you get it" referred more to the fabric/pattern, not the skirt itself, or there was some assumption that I got it from a non-professional or a DIY-thing (one gal had a skirt made from window curtains.) Again, it just seems like refusing to point out the elephant if I don't acknowledge that, yeah, this thing I'm wearing is not as good as what should be expected out of a costume.
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Post by reboot on Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:04 pm

Despite years (5-18 years old) of my mother attempting to teach me to sew so I could help her with her seamstress side work I still sucked and still can not do a straight hem for love or money. Now perhaps that makes me a less than average person... Smile I would be impressed by your work because there is no way in hell I could manage a ball gown

I have to agree with Werel and Enail because they are on to 2 good points. Another point might be that they recognized you were not a professional and thought you made a good amateur effort.
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Post by Enail on Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:14 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
Enail wrote:It seems like you're assuming that everyone will evaluate things in exactly the same way you will, and that they're assuming that you should evaluate things the same way they do.

But I guess that's what confuses me about this situation. These are professional costumers-every single person there was wearing a costume that was far better constructed and put together than mine was. These are costumers and sewers, so why wouldn't they evaluate a costume on construction/costume/sewing criteria? I mean, that's kind of part of the experience, right?

I'm not saying they weren't, I'm just saying you don't know what they were evaluating on or what they really thought of it - but it seems like you're making quite a few assumptions on that front, and that it's likely that at least some of them aren't totally true.  You're starting from the premise that you are making an accurate evaluation and that people who disagree with you are either wrong or lying, which are two things people tend dislike having implied about them.

reboundstudent wrote:
Enail wrote:
For your example with the skirt, I think it's a fair guess that the person who you were talking to took it for a professional job ("where did you get it," is not how people usually phrase it if they think it looks handmade and amateur), and I suspect that, because you felt like they really should know how un-pro it was, you sounded like you were downplaying it excessively for what to them seemed a much more skilled work than that level of "acknowledging amateur-ness" would suggest. Mismatch between their perception and your level of modesty.

I guess I find it very, very hard to believe they couldn't recognize it was amateur. I felt the "where did you get it" referred more to the fabric/pattern, not the skirt itself, or there was some assumption that I got it from a non-professional or a DIY-thing (one gal had a skirt made from window curtains.) Again, it just seems like refusing to point out the elephant if I don't acknowledge that, yeah, this thing I'm wearing is not as good as what should be expected out of a costume.  

I'm really not in a position to evaluate what they thought or what would have been reasonable for them to have thought (especially since I'm a non-sewer who is impressed by sewing on buttons Razz)., but based on the way you describe this and similar situations, it seems like you often feel that there's an elephant being ignored and like some of the people you're talking to feel that you're pointing out an elephant isn't there.

And it's uncomfortable for you when no one acknowledges the elephant, but it becomes uncomfortable for them when you point out an elephant that they aren't necessarily seeing (or that they see, but feel it's rude to acknowledge. I don't know what they're seeing, just that they seem uncomfortable with your use of elephants).
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Post by Spiffo on Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:18 pm

I don't think the insecurity part comes from being bad at something, but rather from assuming that other people will judge you for it. A person could whip up an amateurish gown and still wear it with pride. Likewise, a person could be fat or thin or whatever, but still not be ashamed of it and be happy with their bodies. So your friends are trying to encourage you and stop you from getting down on yourself about your perceived flaws.

That does still lead to a bit of a pickle, where you might have some of these insecurities eating away at you from the inside, but you have to project confidence and self-security to others and can't talk to anybody about it (lest they think of you as insecure).
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Post by eselle28 on Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:21 pm

My interpretation of the response is different than some others'. If the people who complimented you were professional costumers, they presumably know that you're not a pro yourself and the compliment is understood to be the sort that scales with experience. You can still enjoy someone's work while recognizing that they're not an expert in the field - they might see the parts of the execution that are well-done or simply admire your taste in choosing patterns or fabrics.

As for the conversation about this being your first gown and you being new to sewing, maybe it would help to think of the label "insecurity" as being people misphrasing something based on an incorrect assumption? Essentially, what they're telling you is that this topic of conversation makes them uncomfortable if it's explored at too much length. When they were in your shoes, they might have actually felt insecure. Remembering that feeling is uncomfortable for them, and unless you know them well enough for them to know your feelings about compliments, they might assume you're uncomfortable as well.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:23 pm

Spiffo wrote:I don't think the insecurity part comes from being bad at something, but rather from assuming that other people will judge you for it. A person could whip up an amateurish gown and still wear it with pride. Likewise, a person could be fat or thin or whatever, but still not be ashamed of it and be happy with their bodies. So your friends are trying to encourage you and stop you from getting down on yourself about your perceived flaws.

That does still lead to a bit of a pickle, where you might have some of these insecurities eating away at you from the inside, but you have to project confidence and self-security to others and can't talk to anybody about it (lest they think of you as insecure).

But again, this doesn't make sense... I assume people are judging me for it because, in many cases, people are totally judging me for it. Maybe they're not doing it to my face directly, but you can damn well bet there are people talking about how amateur a costume is behind their hands to friends and other people. Or the guys on the forum frequently posting their opinions about other people's bodies. So how is it insecure (which we read to mean "perceived" and "made-up", as opposed to "experienced" and "real") to have feelings that correctly reflect the attitudes around you?

And why not be down on yourself when everyone is, indirectly at least, telling you to be down on yourself? That's what's so utterly bizarre to me... "Be confident even while I tell you, in explicit detail, how much you suck." Is it it some weird way of avoiding guilt? Like we feel bad when we clearly see we've inflicted harm on someone, so we insist that the people we judge/mock be "strong" and "confident" so we can continue judging and mocking them without feeling bad?...
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Post by Spiffo on Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:15 pm

reboundstudent wrote:But again, this doesn't make sense... I assume people are judging me for it because, in many cases, people are totally judging me for it. Maybe they're not doing it to my face directly, but you can damn well bet there are people talking about how amateur a costume is behind their hands to friends and other people. Or the guys on the forum frequently posting their opinions about other people's bodies. So how is it insecure (which we read to mean "perceived" and "made-up", as opposed to "experienced" and "real") to have feelings that correctly reflect the attitudes around you?

And why not be down on yourself when everyone is, indirectly at least, telling you to be down on yourself? That's what's so utterly bizarre to me... "Be confident even while I tell you, in explicit detail, how much you suck." Is it it some weird way of avoiding guilt? Like we feel bad when we clearly see we've inflicted harm on someone, so we insist that the people we judge/mock be "strong" and "confident" so we can continue judging and mocking them without feeling bad?...  

In the costume example, you don't know that at all. You made something, wore it, people said nice things about it, but you're SURE that they're saying other stuff about your costume behind your back. Except why would they? They've got their own stuff to worry about, and maybe they're trying to be positive, and you're getting labeled "insecure" because the only person on Team Criticize You is You.

Some people on the Internet, who have never met you and who you have never met, are posting opinions about the bodies of other unrelated people who they've never met. And it's getting you down on yourself, and making you feel like you should be unhappy in your own skin.

People often say that confidence is attractive, and what you are describing is the opposite. It has nothing to do with the subjective truth of their statements (in the former case, whether you made a nice dress; in the latter case, whether that internet stranger may or may not find you attractive).
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:25 pm

Spiffo wrote: In the costume example, you don't know that at all. You made something, wore it, people said nice things about it, but you're SURE that they're saying other stuff about your costume behind your back. Except why would they? They've got their own stuff to worry about, and maybe they're trying to be positive, and you're getting labeled "insecure" because the only person on Team Criticize You is You.

If something happens 9 times out of 10, you have pretty good odds on betting it will happen. Not everyone criticizes a costume in a Mean-Girl way, but I can absolutely guarantee that there is some kind of judgment going on. There just is-it's the nature of the beast. People critique and judge other people's work, when that work is on the display. It's not a bad thing; it's a neutral thing that is part of the scene. Which is why it seems so strange to me to not just acknowledge that.

Spiffo wrote:
Some people on the Internet, who have never met you and who you have never met, are posting opinions about the bodies of other unrelated people who they've never met. And it's getting you down on yourself, and making you feel like you should be unhappy in your own skin.

It isn't just some people. It's lots and lots and lots of people. And they're critiquing the bodies that are presented to them. It's also not as if it's a critique I only ever hear on the Internet; I hear it in real life too. I see it reflected in media, I hear guys say similar things in bars and at cons. (Hell, I heard it on dates.) I see the glut of it online, but it's really strange to me to think that the Internet is some kind of vacuum, alternate dimension.

Spiffo wrote:
People often say that confidence is attractive, and what you are describing is the opposite. It has nothing to do with the subjective truth of their statements (in the former case, whether you made a nice dress; in the latter case, whether that internet stranger may or may not find you attractive).

Except why should you have confidence when you are told, over and over, that you don't have anything to be confident about?? It's like telling the kid in the spelling bee who can't spell to save his life he has a chance at winning the trophy. This is what I don't get about the "confidence is sexy/insecurity is unattractive" mantra; isn't confidence, at least somewhat, a chicken-and-egg validation loop? Who's to say you're not confidence because you're attractive (doesn't have to be physical, just attractive in some way.)

Similarly, why is it insecurity if the feelings and beliefs you hold are the absolutely, truthful reflection of how other people see you?? Isn't being "confident" really just delusional then? "Oh, everyone else thinks I'm an ugly, rude, loathsome jerk, but I have confidence I'm actually attractive and wonderful!" We'd call that person extremely lacking in self-awareness, at best.
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Post by reboot on Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:28 pm

RBS, in the costuming space (which I am totally unfamiliar with) is it common for people to critique their own work? Or is it more that the critique is focused on the works of others?
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:48 pm

reboot wrote:RBS, in the costuming space (which I am totally unfamiliar with) is it common for people to critique their own work? Or is it more that the critique is focused on the works of others?

More focused on others. Kind of the standard "Oh what an awesome costume!" to the face, and then a "She should have spent some time hemming that," behind a hand to the friend.

Here's a good link that kind of illustrates what I'm (poorly) articulating. Essentially, cosplay and costuming at a higher level is Very Serious Business, and so others critiquing you is kind of expected. Usually in cosplay the critique is around accuracy and canon, but it can be about construction as well.

http://blogs.slj.com/connect-the-pop/2013/07/comics/something-to-consider-on-the-eve-of-comic-con-cosplay-and-critical-thinking/
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Post by nearly_takuan on Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:55 pm

reboundstudent wrote:Except why should you have confidence when you are told, over and over, that you don't have anything to be confident about??

Except, if you get a compliment about your costume, isn't that being told that you have something to be confident about? What am I missing? confused
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Post by JP McBride on Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:55 pm

reboundstudent wrote:... I also continue to be confused by people who are impressed by bad sewing. I mean, grab any average person off the street and give them the same amount of experience I've had, and they'd blow me out of the water, technique-wise. So it's not as if I'm all that impressive, even from a beginner's stand-point (hell, some straight-up beginners do better than me), so why be impressed by it? I do not get it...  

They weren't impressed by your shitty dress, they were impressed that you had the confidence to show up wearing your shitty dress.

It's something you're going to have to get used to if you're going to make a habit out of being secure.

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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:59 pm

I'm going to side track around the primary discussion. This is a problem that artists of all sorts have. When you (or I) see your (my) work, you see everything you wanted to put in it that didn't work the way you wanted it to. If its below about 75% of what you expect, your brain wants you to think of it as objectively bad and a horrible failure. When everyone else sees it, they don't have a Platonic ideal of what it was supposed to look like in their heads. They only see what's there. If they like what they see, I personally can't think of any reason to make an effort to talk them out of it. If they don't like it, there's no point making excuses of why it should have been better but wasn't.

Except why should you have confidence when you are told, over and over, that you don't have anything to be confident about??

Because when someone says "where did you get that?" what they're saying is "that looks good enough that I could see paying money for it myself. It does not look like a hobby project to me." So yes, people are going to judge your outfit. At least one person judged it as being good enough to pay for.

If someone had said "that looks amazing. I can tell you were short for time on the hemming and edge stitching but eh. . .that happens. You might want to take in the shoulders a bit", would you be more inclined to process "that's amazing" as a positive review or to take the rest (which are about things you already knew weren't right) as a negative review of your ability?

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Post by Robjection on Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:01 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:
reboundstudent wrote:Except why should you have confidence when you are told, over and over, that you don't have anything to be confident about??

Except, if you get a compliment about your costume, isn't that being told that you have something to be confident about? What am I missing? confused
From the looks of things, the fact that this compliment is followed by behind-the-back criticism as standard.

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Post by reboot on Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:01 pm

JP McBride wrote:
reboundstudent wrote:... I also continue to be confused by people who are impressed by bad sewing. I mean, grab any average person off the street and give them the same amount of experience I've had, and they'd blow me out of the water, technique-wise. So it's not as if I'm all that impressive, even from a beginner's stand-point (hell, some straight-up beginners do better than me), so why be impressed by it? I do not get it...  

They weren't impressed by your shitty dress, they were impressed that you had the confidence to show up wearing your shitty dress.

It's something you're going to have to get used to if you're going to make a habit out of being secure.

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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:35 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:I'm going to side track around the primary discussion. This is a problem that artists of all sorts have. When you (or I) see your (my) work, you see everything you wanted to put in it that didn't work the way you wanted it to. If its below about 75% of what you expect, your brain wants you to think of it as objectively bad and a horrible failure. When everyone else sees it, they don't have a Platonic ideal of what it was supposed to look like in their heads. They only see what's there. If they like what they see, I personally can't think of any reason to make an effort to talk them out of it. If they don't like it, there's no point making excuses of why it should have been better but wasn't.

It isn't meant to be an excuse and more a recognition that I still have some work to do. I get what you mean about art, but sewing isn't exactly art. There are absolute, critical things about it that are obvious and incorrect. Art is up to interpretation; the practical effects of sewing (is it fitted, is it pressed) are not. It's kind of like grammar/spelling in books. The meaning and story of a book is art, but the grammar/spelling is concrete skills, and it's obvious when those skills are lacking.

Gentleman Johnny wrote:
If someone had said "that looks amazing. I can tell you were short for time on the hemming and edge stitching but eh. . .that happens. You might want to take in the shoulders a bit", would you be more inclined to process "that's amazing" as a positive review or to take the rest (which are about things you already knew weren't right) as a negative review of your ability?

I'd be more inclined to take it as a positive review. That kind of review would actually make me feel relieved, because I'd know they actually were giving their honest opinion, and not just a knee-jerk compliment. A compliment with constructive criticism is the literal best. I'd also probably hold their compliment in much higher esteem because their criticism recognizes what's off about the dress, which means they know what they're talking about.
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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:37 pm

Robjection wrote:
From the looks of things, the fact that this compliment is followed by behind-the-back criticism as standard.

Right. So part of it is a "If you're going to stab me in the back, have the guts to do it to my face" kinda thing. It's very difficult to see a compliment as a compliment when you know there are not-compliments floating around on the periphery.
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Post by nonA on Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:48 pm

A pity we don't have a fly-on-the-wall view of the ball Marty was at.  A little so we could see for ourselves how good everyone else's costume was (standard issues of invisible people focusing most of their attention on the most visible people - we know that some top-notch cosplayers were there, but it'd be nice to know how many other first-timers and otherwise non-pro people were there), and partially to read all the context that can't be expressed in an after-the-fact internet post.  It's one thing to say "thanks, it's my first attempt at a ball gown" (acknowledging the fact while allowing the other person to draw their own interpretations and direct the conversation from there), it's another to constantly come back to the point.

I also want to say something about how most social events are more focused on pleasant socialization than sniping and positioning, and throw in some thoughts on the social circles that do have that sort of feudal feel.  (As well as what happens when taking the expectations from one type and apply them in the other.)  I also have a feeling that I'd explain it all poorly if I tried to go in-depth, so I'll hope someone more diplomatic than myself can explain it better.


I'd be more inclined to take it as a positive review. That kind of review would actually make me feel relieved, because I'd know they actually were giving their honest opinion, and not just a knee-jerk compliment. A compliment with constructive criticism is the literal best. I'd also probably hold their compliment in much higher esteem because their criticism recognizes what's off about the dress, which means they know what they're talking about.

That's a little spotlight effect-y. Someone making pleasant idle chit-chat will usually have a lot of other things on their mind, and won't be paying too much attention to all the technical details of your outfit.

There's also the fact that compliment-plus-criticism is most often read as being purely backhanded. I get where you're coming from, but this might be one of those places where it's about where there's a mismatch between two different sets of social expectations.

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Post by Autumnflame on Tue Dec 16, 2014 11:50 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
Gentleman Johnny wrote:I'm going to side track around the primary discussion. This is a problem that artists of all sorts have. When you (or I) see your (my) work, you see everything you wanted to put in it that didn't work the way you wanted it to. If its below about 75% of what you expect, your brain wants you to think of it as objectively bad and a horrible failure. When everyone else sees it, they don't have a Platonic ideal of what it was supposed to look like in their heads. They only see what's there. If they like what they see, I personally can't think of any reason to make an effort to talk them out of it. If they don't like it, there's no point making excuses of why it should have been better but wasn't.

It isn't meant to be an excuse and more a recognition that I still have some work to do. I get what you mean about art, but sewing isn't exactly art. There are absolute, critical things about it that are obvious and incorrect. Art is up to interpretation; the practical effects of sewing (is it fitted, is it pressed) are not. It's kind of like grammar/spelling in books. The meaning and story of a book is art, but the grammar/spelling is concrete skills, and it's obvious when those skills are lacking.  

Most art (short of some fine/contemporary art) has exactly the same kind of elements. Anatomy, lighting, composition, etc. etc. There's some wiggle room when it comes to more stylized stuff, especially the conceptual side of the art world, but there's a reason people who huff, "Well, you just don't get it, that's how it's meant to be" tend to get laughed at. But people can still like the stuff that's inaccurate or technically flawed or pretty amateurish, because something about it appeals to them - even if at least part of it because your eyes honestly do get trained the more you're exposed to art, even if you don't do it yourself. (The average person who doesn't look at it a bunch actually can't see the same stuff that the art appreciator might, even though they might be able to if they were trained up/put the same time into it.)

reboundstudent wrote:
Gentleman Johnny wrote:
If someone had said "that looks amazing. I can tell you were short for time on the hemming and edge stitching but eh. . .that happens. You might want to take in the shoulders a bit", would you be more inclined to process "that's amazing" as a positive review or to take the rest (which are about things you already knew weren't right) as a negative review of your ability?

I'd be more inclined to take it as a positive review. That kind of review would actually make me feel relieved, because I'd know they actually were giving their honest opinion, and not just a knee-jerk compliment. A compliment with constructive criticism is the literal best. I'd also probably hold their compliment in much higher esteem because their criticism recognizes what's off about the dress, which means they know what they're talking about.

Dang. I honestly cannot imagine a situation where it would not be horribly rude to offer critique without being asked for it first (or in a context where the request for criticism is implicitly understood, like when showing things to a mentor).
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Post by reboot on Tue Dec 16, 2014 11:53 pm

If the people you were talking to know sewing, it could have been a compliment for someone with your experience, but they did not feel it was necessary to state what your experience level was since both you and they know you are an amateur? Sort of like when I compliment an intern on their work. We both know there is an implied "for someone at your level of experience" because they know what they do is not on the same level as our subject matter experts. I do not need to say, "Great job, for an intern" (which kind of sounds douchey) to make it clear that their work is good for their level but not anywhere near as good as a SME

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