February 26, 2013

Life Imitates Art: Housewives and Title-Flaunting

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I’ll admit—I’m kind of addicted to The Real Housewives. Its ability to flawlessly deliver instantly gratifying and mindless entertainment every single time I watch it never ceases to amaze me. And who doesn’t like a good weave-tussling fight every once in a while?

While it’s definitely not America’s proudest achievement in television, Housewives often presents some useful takeaways for us college students that don’t necessarily involve plastic surgeries and ridiculously over-the-top table flips. Let’s face it, on any given weekend in Collegetown, it is not hard to spot situations that are eerily similar to the Bravo show, minus the Birkin bags: from fashion faux pas to incomprehensible rants, something dramatic is always happening.

No matter which franchise you’re watching, be it Beverly Hills or New Jersey, Housewives extensively covers how to deal with one of the least likeable people in a social group: the title-flaunter.

This season of the show’s Atlanta installment introduced its audience to Kenya, self-described as “Gone With the Wind fabulous.” She is best known for being crowned Miss USA in 1993, a title that she makes sure no one forgets. In fact, when another housewife accidentally referred to Kenya as a former Miss America, Kenya was practically kicking and screaming.

Being the second African-American woman to take the Miss USA crown is definitely a feat, but to deem Kenya as a prominent historical figure because of it, as she believes people should, is a lofty exaggeration. Kenya thirsts for legitimacy based on a title alone, and her overwhelming insecurity about being recognized and respected is definitely not lost on anyone.

We all know a title-flaunter like Kenya. It’s easy to rely on a job title or accolade to ascribe oneself an identity, especially at a time like this when we’ve got résumés and interviews on the brain. Whether it’s the guy with the upcoming consulting gig who won’t stop talking about his burgeoning career, or the future doctor who continually tweets about her medical school acceptances, a title-flaunter makes conversations insufferable, easily souring his or her relationships.

While the Housewives’ solutions to dealing with title-flaunters range from eye rolls to catfights, a catfight is not as fun in person as it is on television. So what is the most civil way to deal with one? First, it is important to realize that the person in question is most likely boasting her title to boost her own self-confidence, not so much to destroy yours. The best thing to do is to be patient—soon, the novelty will wear off, and people will quickly get bored if the title-flaunter can’t change the topic. There’s no need to start an unnecessary spat when this too shall pass.

Sometimes, though, the title-flaunter tries to hit below the belt, perhaps going so far as to directly devaluing your own achievements to elevate theirs. Though it’s even harder to hold back in this case, remember that this type of title-flaunter’s comments stem from the same insecurities as mentioned before, albeit deeper ones.

Remind yourself that your purported shortcomings aren’t so much the title-flaunter’s focus as is her own need for acceptance. Again, it’s best to be patient. But if the comments are just too acerbic to bear, and if the title-flaunter doesn’t mean much to you, slowly distance yourself. You don’t deserve to be weighed down by useless baggage. Life’s too short to surround yourself with negative people.

Original Author: Karina Parikh