My sisters and I have this ritual where we clean out our closets and pile everything we don’t want or that isn’t ours in the livingroom. By the end of our cleaning spree, we are left with a a huge mess of clothes on the livingroom floor. From there, anything is free game. Claim what is yours, take what you want, separate what you don’t want, take your smaller pile of hand-me-downs to your room and pray it ends up back in your room after laundry day. Anything that is left behind after all 4 of us girls go through it – yes, my mom included – gets thrown into a garbage bag and is given to our many relatives in the Philippines.
There are a few verbal warnings that come with this ritual. A lot of, “Look through the clothes so you get first pick,” “_____ already looked through it, now you have to,” and most of the time we’ll be lazy to check. “Just give it away,” which is usually met with, “You better look through it, some of your clothes that you still want might be in here and you better not ask me where it is later.” It’s pretty overwhelming to see that enormous clothes pile in the middle of the livingroom floor. But it’s true, if we don’t look through it, some of the clothes we still want / have been looking for might be mistakenly given away due to our own laziness.
That’s what almost happened a few months back. I didn’t care to look through the pile, and everything was in trash bags already. Meaning, the next step would be to give those trash bags to my aunt who would send them off via Balikbayan box to the Philippines. I got the threat once more, “You better look through it before we give it away.” Ugh, fine. I peeled myself off of the couch and started looking through that garbage bag.
Inside I found something that I made 15 years ago. I was going to just leave it in the bag, but I decided to take it out and keep it for the sake of memories.. It was a shirt I designed when I was in what… 5th grade? Back then, my older sister always expressed wanting to be a fashion designer. So, of course, as any little sister would, I wanted to be a fashion designer as well. I got those little fabrics from Joanne’s and started crafting with my sewing needle and thread.
I took my old black shirt from Old Navy and began to sketch out what I wanted my design to be. “I love food” with an ice cream cone is what I decided to go with. I looked at the black shirt infront of me, and I started laughing. It’s a nice little breath of fresh air when you see something you made years back. I was looking at a shirt I had made 15 years prior, and it dawned on me.
Here I was, 15 years later, laughing at 10 year old me’s shirt design choice. I know it wasn’t that deep, and it probably wasn’t even what I was thinking 15 years ago, but it got me thinking : how we make ourselves the butt of the joke. And I know 10 year old me just wanted a “happy bunny” -like shirt. You know, before memes were on the internet and instead we just wore it on our shirts? As in the graphic tees that said random things like “I don’t care,” “music lover,” “My other half” with a picture of peanut butter and jelly hugging. I know that was my intention, but it made my brain wonder.
For the most part, I think joking around about yourself is fun and healthy. It’s pretty whack when you can’t take a crack at yourself from time to time. So for the record, I am a fan of capping on yourself for shits and giggles. But sometimes, people make themselves the ass of the joke for other reasons. How do you know when the jokee is not joking about themselves anymore?
Sometimes making yourself the ass of the joke is bringing to light how you really feel about yourself. Sometimes insecurities are masked into jokes to make them more lighthearted and easier to swallow. I used to get teased a lot when I was younger by family and sometimes even friends about being overweight. And it used to really bug me. You know that feeling where you just feel embarrassed and moded? So you sit there looking like you’re about to cry because you’re like… 7 and don’t know how to cope with being teased? That was me.
As I grew up, I found myself making myself the ass of the joke around certain people. Mostly certain family members. I found myself trying to be funny, and by being “funny” I’d put myself down for their own amusement. It was all in the name of “joking,” but really, I was joking on myself to justify how they treated me back in the day. Oh they’re just joking, just like how I’m just joking. But was I? Sometime in my early 20’s I had to take a step back and think, “ew, why am I playing myself like that?”
Joking is a coping mechanism that some adopt. Sometimes it can be for the good and all in fun, but sometimes it can be a very toxic game we play with ourselves. Sometimes toxic joking can feel like you’re explaining the obvious before anyone else has the opportunity to bring it up. Are you joking about yourself being fat? Having no curves? Or maybe you’re joking about your accent, how unintelligent you are, your appearance, about your love life – or lack there of. We all joke. But if you really listen to some people’s jokes that are consistently about themselves, you’ll get a feel for how they really feel about themselves.
It’s one thing to make jokes, it’s another to just be bullying yourself in the name of fun. Sometimes we don’t even realize. I guess what makes joking about yourself healthy or not is how content you are with yourself. If you’re making fun of yourself because you genuinely think it’s funny, that’s one thing. But if you’re taking jabs at yourself about things that make you feel really insecure, you might want to ask yourself why you feel the need to call yourself out and get others to laugh at what you struggle with.
I just wanted to share how 1 thing led me to a completely different train of thought. I enjoyed seeing the shirt though, and I’m glad I checked the garbage bag before it went to the Philippines lol.