Monday, March 21, 2011


I was chatting with my Aunt C last weekend & somehow came to be talking about commenting on appearances. She finds it extremely rude when people comment not only on her weight, but on anything to do with her personal appearance whether it be complimentary or otherwise. She used an example of a friend who looks her up & down, when ever she sees her, regardless of whether she is alone or with someone & makes comment. The last time this lady commented on C's shoes - "I haven't seen those shoes before, where did you get them". A bit blunt & not really complimentary on this occasion; C says she has made complimentary comment in the past.

I got to thinking & went back to C & mentioned that some people are bought up to believe that it is polite to compliment people on their personal appearance; I was certainly encouraged to make kind & positive comments (in fact to look for something positive to say every time) & that if I didn't have something nice to say to not say it at all.

C lost a lot of weight when she retired & I remember commenting to her that she looked great & bought this up. C's philosophy is that it doesn't matter what you look like, what weight you are, how your hair is done, whether you are well or unwell - you are friends &/or interact with people with no relevance to those things. C said her Mum bought her up that way & perhaps it was a little old fashioned. I'd imagine she feels these things are all as irrelevant as your skin colour as to any positive or negative interaction she may have with you.

Her husband T, then commented that in some cultures it was probably insulting if you didn't comment on someones physical appearance. I did read somewhere too that in a particular culture if you compliment someone on a possession, they are obligated to give it to you!

It's really got me thinking though:

Validation/approval V Disapproval

Genuine care & interest V shallow & disinterested/disrespectful

I guess everyone(?) makes shallow comments. You know the kind, where you meet someone & comment on a piece of jewellery or the shirt they are wearing to make conversation. Do blokes do this too or is it more us chicks???

In the work place managers often use validation as a tool in attempt get the best out of their employees (which reminds me, another of C' pet hates is asking people what they do for a living/job as again this holds no relevance as to who you are as person).

Personally I guess it really depends on the genuineness of your delivery of a compliment as to whether it is appropriate or not. I would never hesitate to compliment any of my friends on what they are wearing or if they are looking good or fit or lost weight. If they've gone to the trouble to lose weight or be well groomed or dressed & look good, surely a compliment is not disrespectful or out of order. I don’t think showing admiration & respect by verbalising it as a compliment is a bad thing either.

I do understand where C is coming from though. I think the lesson here is to think before speaking??? Consider your motivation for commenting; & the effect of what you are proposing to say will have on the person you are interacting with.

What do you recon?


Chris H said...

I think your Aunt has a point ... up to a point!
You are right, we should all stop and think before opening our mouths in some situations.

Ute said...

Where do I start?

My maternal Grandmother was a fkn bitch. She would more often than not give you insulting comments about your weight, than anything nice.
She just didn't understand how it cut to the awful it made you feel.

Yes, Grandma, I DO know I'm fat...I don't need you to fkn tell me woman!

I find it very hard to accept compliments. Mainly because I know half the time they are not sincere.

I've been hurt a lot by insincere people. One minute they are telling you how wonderful you are, then next they are using stuff against you and putting you down.

Plus, I don't exactly have a very good self esteem. I just think people are being cordial. Not really meaning what they say.

But that's just me.... it is nice to receive a compliment. Just hard to accept personal appearance compliments.

But I think it's down right rude to tell someone they aren't looking good.
As someone once said, "You know how it hurts when someone tells you how fat you are? Well it's just the same when someone tells you you are too skinny."

We've got a family friend who says, "You're looking well."
I take this to mean that I'm doing well in the fat storage department. :o/

AlleyCat said...

Hey Chris!

Ute babes - I just wanna give you a hug after reading your comment :0(

I think that this is also what my aunt was getting at as well - you never know how the person you are complimenting will take what you've said. I often say to people "your looking well" I would never EVER mean in the fat storage dept. I'd be more likely to mean not tired, clear skin, happy, content etc. Perhaps instead I should say "I'm pleased to see you" regardless of how you look. Hugs to you (((((Ute))))))

~yve~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~yve~ said...

I can't stand when someone says something like "you've had your hair cut" rather than "your hair looks nice". I find that rude.

Amanda said...

I'm a complimenter. I can't help it. To be honest, the current man in my life never compliments me. Ever. And it upsets me and makes me feel like a fat, ugly person. He'll say "You've never worn that shirt", rather than, "you look nice in that shirt". yep. pig.

Jules said...

My pet hate is when people say "hey you've lost weight" to you every time you see them. Do they think I'm a fucken idiot because I haven't lost weight and I know I haven't and you are just condescending me and thinking that I'll feel good if you approve of my appearance!!

AlleyCat said...

Yve - thanks for stopping by & commenting. LOL & I both know when we've had our hair cut & dont need others to remind us right!!!!! Rude indeed.

Amanda - awww sorry to hear your man doesn't offer compliments. Plumbing Boy's not the greatest at complimenting either..... :0( I'm a complimenter too, I do confess.

AlleyCat said...

Jules - yes, innane comments yet again fucking with peeps self esteem. Perhaps we should all refrain from any "weight" based compliments. Damn that whole approval shit.

Amanda - PS he's probably never been taught that type of comment "never seen you wear that before" is bloody rude & hurtful. I hope one day you can articulate this to him & it might just change his approach. (((hugs)))