The Art of the HumbleBrag

Are you familiar with the ‘HumbleBrag’?  It’s too new to have an official spelling, so I made one up, but does have a definition:  ‘an ostensibly modest statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud’.  It’s the newest way to show-off, permissible only because it is under the guise of adorable self-deprecation.  You might think of it as kind of a proactive way to fish for a compliment.

Our current culture gives us multiple platforms perfect for the HumbleBraggart, (made up word AND spelling) particularly social media which everyone knows is mostly for bragging anyway.

You will usually react physically to reading or hearing a HumbleBrag with an involuntarily eye roll.

HumbleBrag comments often include ‘ugh!’  ‘ack!’  and multiple exclamation points!!

Not positive you can recognize a HumbleBrag?  Concerned you may have inadvertently HumbleBragged yourself at a dinner party or on Facebook?  I am going to help you because The Wine Down Lounge is all about education - wait - no it’s not.   I am going to help you anyway.                                                                                                                                            

Here are a variety of HumbleBrag examples: 

Real Housewives of Wherever – I admit I love the Real Housewives, but in my defense I am ashamed of it.  There’s just something about these horrible women doing ridiculous things in fabulous shoes.  So much fun.  Bragging is practically a necessity for these women as they must show how very rich they are before they go bankrupt and/or are sent to jail.  A Real Housewives type of HumbleBrag:   

“Every time I go to pack for a trip, I find out one of my daughters has borrowed the bikini I want!  Grrr, Teenagers!”

Did you just roll your eyes?  Was there a tiny pang of envy that a middle-aged woman could wear a bikini appropriate for a teenager?  I mostly didn’t believe her.  Another:

“I’m so crazy busy I have to read TMZ to find out what my family’s up to!”

Your family is Paris Hilton.  She is probably making a bad decision or a sex tape.  Also, you’re not that busy.

Facebook – The Mothership of the HumbleBrag.  Actual Facebook HumbleBrags, including the original spelling and punctuation errors:

“Uggggh just ate about fifteen piece of chocolate gotta learn to control myself when flying first class or they'll cancel my modelling contract.” 

Or, maybe a little closer to home:

“Every Friday is like a visit from my Personal Trainer as I rush around picking up the house before the housekeeper gets here!  Cardio!”       

Twitter – Advanced Facebook:  

“I just stepped on gum.  Who spits gum on a red carpet?”

Add a hashtag for extra credit:

"Ack!  Just spilled red wine on my new book contract!  #bumblingthroughlife"

High School -   You know that girl – probably a cheerleader, but not the slutty one.  One like the Reese Witherspoon character in ‘Election’.  She was a HumbleBragger: 

“Everyone should seriously consider donating blood for our Annual Blood Drive.  It breaks my heart that I can’t, because I don’t weigh 105…but you should.”

Parental – I am fabulous because my child is fabulous because I am fabulous.  Example:

 “My daughter just got promoted to the Paris office!  I guess all those years we spent vacationing on the Cote d’Azur were good for something besides skin cancer!”


“Well, let’s just say it wasn’t our choice for a neighborhood.  We had no desire to move here – truly – it’s outrageous!  But obviously we needed a TAG school that could challenge Aubrey."

Famous People - The Obnoxious Zenith.  Again, actual spelling from the Celebs themselves:

“No make-up on, hair’s not done, toothpaste stains down the frunont of my shirt, pretty sure I’m not wearing deodorant.  Still get hit on.  *sigh*” 

Or, worse: 

“I hate my lambo! Police is ALWAYS pulling me over just cuz its a lambo so they always think I’m speeding but I’m not!!”

Why is the HumbleBrag so annoying?  Maybe because it’s so inauthentic?  It’s obviously bragging, but under a fake veil of modesty to cover your tracks.  It reminds me of one of (the many) things my mother told me in an effort to keep me from turning out to be an ass.  She said that sarcasm is a coward’s way to be cruel.    This is kind of like that.  You’re doing the naughty thing (boasting, being not nice) and then polishing it up to be socially acceptable, which just makes it naughty and fake.  Like a backhanded compliment, right?

I have to dash – Ugh!  Am always running late!  Will have to race to get my 5 miles in.  So embarrassing to show up at my board meeting with damp hair!

This concludes today’s lesson.