Do You Look Down On Others?

Do You Look Down On Others?

In a touching first person article, Ada Calhoun talks about how she and her friends spent a summer in a photo lab, mostly making fun of the people in the photos.

To be fair, she was 21, and to be fair, we ALL judge people based on appearance and come to false conclusions about them. Hell, in my 20’s, I used to go to bars with my roommate and we’d make up limericks about total strangers just to entertain ourselves since we didn’t have the guts to approach women.

The people you’re making fun of are often a lot happier and better adjusted than you are.

But, there’s often a deep underlying irony when it comes to schadenfreude. Namely that the people you’re making fun of are often a lot happier and better adjusted than you are.

Says Calhoun, “We made fun of the people in the pictures for being desperate, but no one was more desperate than we were. At parties I often pretended to be someone named Amy and occasionally mud-wrestled. I was living with a boyfriend I would later marry and quickly divorce. Stephen frequently confessed to me sordid exploits that even I was shocked by. Richard had sworn off love and sex altogether. We were deeply flawed, unhappy people with lousy lives.”

I know that I was a wiseass kid. I know that I still have a streak of that in me. But I’ve also grown more compassionate and understanding of strangers, and attempt to put myself in their shoes instead of demonizing them. In fact, the only time you’ll see me get a bit agitated in the comments section of this site is when a stranger has taken absolutely no pains to try to understand ME – and resorts to insults, name-calling, or merely asserting that I’m wrong.

So, please, read this short piece about looking down on others and try to look at your fellow citizens through a prism of compassion, instead of scorn.

Join our conversation (47 Comments).
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  1. 21

    I don’t think men appreciate women who look down on people.   I think some men just don’t care what kind of personality a woman they find hot has, be it good, bad, or in-between.

    I’m sure they aren’t paying attention to what they are saying.   

    And also, some people who are superficial bullies kind of come together and probably enjoy mocking others together.

  2. 22

    My man would sure not love me the way he does if I looked down on others….

    It goes against our values (which does not mean I have never had thoughts I am not proud of)  

  3. 23

    Well, most of my life I’ve been the person who was “looked down upon”, rather than the one looking down on others.   I was never the “popular” one.   First I was an emaciated, 90 pound nerdy  kid with glasses and braces, and now I’m an old maid in my 30s who men look down on with these online dating sites (and after the years of unsuccessful online dating, I know I’m at the bottom of the dating totem pole in the eyes of male online daters.   Not saying that in a “woe is me” self-pitying way, but just being realistic and taking the rose-colored glasses off.   I’m not kidding myself  that there are a lot of men out there who want an Asian woman in her 30s).    

    However, there have been moments where I was the one looking down on others–although not over looks.   In retrospect, it was out of deep insecurity and a need to try to bolster up my own self-esteem.   I once looked down on this beautiful 20-something model I know, always saying behind her back how stupid she is.   I felt jealous of her for her  youth and beauty, and for being the one that men will always desire over women like me.    It somehow made me feel better to look down on her–to say that even though she’s young and desirable, at least she’s lacking in other areas.   I can’t say I was too proud of that, though.   After taking a break from online dating, my self-esteem is on the mend and on the way back up again.   I’m learning to value myself from within, without relying on the external validation from others and independent of anyone else’s opinion of me.   I’m trying to learn to see the good qualities in myself, regardless of whether I get male attention and validation.   Once I’ve started feeling better about myself, I felt less of a need to put her down.   The old adage is true that it says more about the people doing the insulting than it does about the people being insulted.  

  4. 24

    For the most part, I look at the total person and not simply  the exterior.   However, I find myself looking at other women at or near my age whose countenence just screams “I have given up.!” It is not about finding or attracting a man but about caring for yourself.   So many women over 40, married or single, just seem to have totally given up on grooming, health maintenance, diet and exercise. Men, too, of course.

    Then I remind myself that they may have a sick spouse or elderly parent to care for, or other committments that I do not have.   I am fortunate  in that my one living parent, my  mother, is still very healthy and independent.   I know that that could change in the blink of an eye.  

  5. 25

    i,m Asian and older than you and it really is news to me that we aren’t popular with men.

  6. 26

    I’m not Asian and it’s certainly news to me that Asian women aren’t popular with men!

  7. 27

    Christine, I’ve seen you make that comment over and over and think you are really selling yourself short. If you are not attractive, you are not attractive, but simply being Asian and in your 30s is not the reason for your problem. I know lots of beautiful Asian women in their 30s – oftentimes nonwhite women do age better and look youthful for longer. I used to say stuff like that to myself too – I’m not Asian and in my 30s, but I repeated other justifications for why I didn’t always have great luck with men – and ever since I chose to stop believing those things my luck has tremendously improved. Ever since I chose to stop believing I was “different” than everyone else, that I didn’t deserve love, that I was not what men wanted, so much turned around for me. The fact is, the majority of women are plain Janes or even unattractive, yet they still find love. Few women are women that are most men’s cup of tea.

  8. 28

    @ Christine

    We are all pretty in our own way. Feminine beauty is
    -30 percent nature
    – 70 percent grooming (watch your weight, do your hair, take care of your skin and wear appropriate clothes)
    – 100 percent smile and happiness!!!!!

    You can do it sweetie, we all can !!!!!!

  9. 29

    Evan, this article could be about the online dating world that you vigorously promote, many men judge the women that are on these dating sites and assume that they ‘must be losers if they need the internet” So, many women shy away from subjecting themselves to further abuse, just read the vitriol in  these review  articles for,

    1. 29.1
      Evan Marc Katz


      1. Anyone who would go to review a dating site had a bad experience on the dating site. Happy couples don’t go to sites like that.
      2. For what it’s worth, you don’t quite have your facts straight. Women judge men far more than men judge women in online dating. That’s why women respond to fewer emails and find fewer men attractive, according to OkCupid.
      3. If you haven’t succeeded in online dating, I’m presuming you’ve never tried it my way. You have that option if you click on the menu and go to Finding the One Online.

  10. 30

    Thanks for the words of encouragement!   I was having a bad moment there.   I really do think that a lot of times, people put down or look down on others in an attempt to bolster up themselves–as I did with that other girl.   Now I feel ashamed for having been so petty and insecure.   I remember there was another  younger, pretty girl who I used to be jealous of, so I mentally put her down  as not having all that much depth.   It made me feel better to think that yeah, she may be young and pretty but at least  she’s stupider than me!   I felt threatened by her, thinking that if any guy ever came along I’d be interested in, she’d snap him up away from me.   However, the  mutual friend  of ours she DID end up dating was someone I was NEVER interested in anyway (I think  he’s a great, funny guy but for whatever reason, just never felt  that way about him).   So in retrospect that was an irrational fear since she never actually took anyone away from  me at all.   As I got to know her, she’s actually very intelligent and mature for her age, and now she’s one  of my dearest friends.   I  feel bad that I did that (even just in my own head), and that’s not the type of person I want to become.  

    One of the best things I did for myself was rid myself of a very hypercritical, so-called “friend” who was always giving me backhanded compliments or somehow putting me down, not making me feel very good about myself.   Another mutual friend (who knows both of us very well and is also no longer friends with her) made a comment that she actually thought a lot of that was sparked on by jealousy.   I don’t  know if that’s true or not, but after having been on the receiving end of put downs,  it does make me want to be more compassionate and  empathetic of other people.   And then, this former friend wonders why she has such a troubled marriage (if she’s even half as critical of him as she is of me, I don’t blame him for spending as much time away from her as he does!)

  11. 31


    You cannot look at online dating (or any dating) as a form of abuse. Yes these men are judging us and we are judging them too. But personally I am proud of myself every time I agree to meet someone and put myself on the line to be judged because there is a chance that I will learn something, meet a friend, have a nice time or maybe just maybe, form a connection. Sure it’s safer for our egos to stay home and shun the dating scene but is it realistic? and does it serve you in the end? I say take Evan’s advice, build yourself up and then get out there and take the good with the bad.

  12. 32

    That is a good way to look at it Laura.   It certainly would have been safer for my ego to always just stay at home but, then of course you’ll never have true love.   It’s analogous to how you can study really hard for a test and still not get the best grade in the class–but if you don’t try and don’t study at all, it’s guaranteed that you won’t.   You can go on a lot of dates and still not find love.   It certainly is frustrating to think of all the wasted time and effort spent on dating that never went anywhere.   However, if you never date you’ll pretty much guarantee that you’ll never find it (well once in a blue moon I suppose you can meet someone by chance, but how often does that happen?) So the only real alternative I can think of is to grit your teeth through the setbacks and keep forging ahead.

  13. 33

    I was really displeased about someone commenting on how as an Asian woman, she cannot find men online. That’s just an excuse. Lots of white men find Asian women attractive because they are seen as exotic. In fact, many of you Asians are ‘stealing’ our white men. Many men will go overseas and try to land Asian brides because they are seen as more desireable then us North American white women.   Please don’t blame your age or your ethnicity for your lack of prospects. There are plenty of white men that dig Asians (bad news for white women like me who prefer white men) and there are plenty of Asian men looking for an Asian wife. Honestly, I think Asian women have a bigger pool of men to select from then white women. It’s pretty rare for a white woman to marry an Asian man. They are just not as desired as the white male. (I only know of one Asian man/White woman couple and very rarely I see such a couple in the very multicultural city of Toronto. It’s usually the white man with a brown/black or Asian woman)

  14. 34

    I just joined online dating again after a break and came across a profile where a guy said he won’t date anyone with weird eyebrows, is ginger, or has a huge forehead or above 12 stone. I wrote off an email chastising him for putting that in this profile. hah I would never dream of putting something like that in my profile.  
    @Paula – I did date an Asian man and really his race made no difference to me. But unfortunately I have to confess that I find white men more attractive through no fault of my own. I also think that in Asian cultures women have a different status (even for second generation immigrants). I couldn’t be that woman he wanted. I felt I was the one with the burden of compromise. Compromise should be about both making sacrifices for a better solution, and not one person giving up a lot for another. In my experience men never really appreciate how much you sacrifice for them or at least they don’t really appreciate the pressures which come with being a woman in modern times. Feminism has made it so much harder for us. Men still take it for granted that we’ll do all the homely domestic things and somehow think we can do that in addition to a stressful job. So I think it adds more to our plate than ever before.  

  15. 35

    Paula 34: “many of you Asians are ‘stealing’ our white men.”
    News flash – you don’t own white men. So they’re not yours to steal.
    If you continue  with an attitude like that, you’re not going to get far with the opposite sex. Men don’t like to feel  that they’re someone else’s property. Maybe it’s because Asians realize that that many of us succeed  with men of all races.

  16. 36
    Karl R

    Paula said: (#34)
    “In fact, many of you Asians are ‘stealing’ our white men.”
    When did I become the collective property of white women?
    I don’t care what race you are. I’m not attracted to bigotry. I’m not attracted to possessiveness.
    Lucy said: (#35)
    “Compromise should be about both making sacrifices for a better solution, and not one person giving up a lot for another.”
    Ideally, that is true. But let me put a different perspective on it. I control whether I give up a lot for my wife. I have no ability to decide whether she makes any sacrifice for me. To whatever extent you expect/insist that the other person make sacrifices, you take control out of your own hands and put it into the other person’s hands.
    Lucy said:  (#35)
    “In my experience men never really appreciate how much you sacrifice for them or at least they don’t really appreciate the pressures which come with being a woman in modern times.”
    Similarly, you don’t recognize all the sacrifices that men make for you or the pressures on them. That’s human nature.
    As a rule of thumb, assume a person will recognize all of the sacrifices he or she makes for a relationship, but about half of the sacrifices his/her partner makes. Therefore, the only way it can ever feel like your partner is pulling the same weight as you is if you’re not pulling your own weight.

  17. 37

    @ Paula #34, the men you are talking about want an Asian woman, not for herself, but because they have some sort of a weird fetish where they want a woman of a certain race. Or, they’ve heard it somewhere that all Asian women are submissive so they want an obedient wife, and they think any Asian woman they pick at random, is going to be one. As an Eastern European woman I have experienced both attitudes to some extent. Personally I would never ever date a man who sees me as a token and not a person that I am. Not only is he going to be disappointed that I am not a typical (insert race/ethnicity), his attitude is borderline racist and as such highly unattractive. However it’s not all bad; a good portion of these men you see with “a brown/black or Asian woman” are just plain colorblind and choose a woman for who she is, not for her origin. You may want to try that approach sometime, it works great for a lot of people, especially, I would imagine, in a diverse city like Toronto!

  18. 38

    Lucy #35
    “Feminism has made it so much harder for us. Men still take it for granted that we’ll do all the homely domestic things and somehow think we can do that in addition to a stressful job. So I think it adds more to our plate than ever before.”
    I notice that some younger women, who didn’t experience life prior to the feminist movement, tend to take the opportunities that women have gained post-feminism, for granted. It’s not the fault of “feminism” that some men still don’t pitch in with domestic duties. It’s men themselves (and women who accept the do-it-all mentality) who control how much work they do around the home, not feminism. Feminism has made it more acceptable – and possible – for women to work outside the home, and for men to be stay-at-home dads, if they so choose.

  19. 39

    @Paula I have four sisters. One is married to a Vietnamese man, one is married to a man from Yemen, and one is married to a black man. People are attracted to other people for a variety of reasons, and no, in the cases of my sisters, it is most definitely NOT because my sisters are “submissive” in any way. We were just raised to view all races as equal, so any prejudice that people have simply didn’t matter. We also grew up in a tiny, rural town in Michigan, which is primarily white, not some racial melting pot. People are attracted to others for whatever reason, but the idea that asian women are “stealing” our men is just an excuse. It reminds me of black women complaining about black men dating white women. I used to work with some, was friends with some who would get angry that my sister was “stealing” their men.

  20. 40

    @Ruby – Thanks. That makes sense. I just meet so many men like my dad who say that they believe in feminism but that women should do all housework as well as having a job. He says that if he helped around the home it would mean   he wasn’t manly and   he sees guys who are stay at home as mugs who’ve lost their masculinity. I’m not sure how relevant those opinions are.

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