Oops…That’s Not a Compliment

So it turns out that putting clothes into the dryer isn’t enough, you actually have to press the button that starts the machine if you want them to dry.  My lack of ability in this area this morning spurred a last minute outfit change.  I was planning to wear black slacks, a pretty tiered sleeveless shirt and a shrug to my weekly small business networking group (Hi, NBX!)  The shirt was already clean but when I opened the dryer the pants and shrug were soaking wet.  I was late so I decided to throw on a skirt instead (which I rarely wear) and just wear the sleeveless shirt.  It’s pretty cold at NBX so I wouldn’t normally go sleeveless but I was in a hurry.

I often receive e-mails from people who say that they want to know how to be supportive of the size positive community.  My outfit and meeting today made me think of one of my favorite ways to do that.

Compliments.

If you’ve seen my post 386,170 Unhelpful Things then you know what I found out about how many negative messages come toward people of size everyday about our bodies.  I still think that one of the best things that we can do is change the number of positive messages.  If you want to be supportive of people of size, compliment them.  We don’t necessarily hear a lot of that.  While you’re at it, sincerley compliment everyone you can – it’s just a good way to live.

Anyway, here’s where the meeting today came in.  Based on this experience (as well as some others that I’ve had) I think that there may be some confusion as to what is, and what is not, a compliment.  Allow me to elucidate:

“Look at you, rocking a dress!” (said positively, no hint of sarcasm).

Compliment.  Well done.

Oh (makes pensive face), I didn’t think you wore dresses.  I actually think pants suit you better.”

Nope, not a compliment.  Not a thing to say at all really.  Maybe should have used your inner monologue on this one.

“Wow, I don’t think I’ve seen you wear a skirt before.  You look so cute.”

Compliment.  That’s how you do it!

“I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re very brave to wear a sleeveless shirt, I always feel like my arms are too fat” (said by someone less than half my size).

Swing and a miss, I’m afraid.  Not a compliment.  I appreciate that you’ve made it clear that this is your issue and not mine, but really if your “compliment” starts with “you’re so brave” and doesn’t end with “for fighting off those wild animals”, you might consider skipping it.

As a general rule, if you’re about to give someone a compliment and you’re not certain if it’s backhanded – try substituting them for yourself (would you like to hear someone say “I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re very brave to wear your hair like that”?)

So, help a fatty out:

Think.

Compliment.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Published in: on June 17, 2010 at 7:49 pm  Comments (9)  

9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Darn . . . and I had to skip today, too!

    One of my personal favorites – I was at Texas Renaissance Faire, Guy 1 introduces Guy 2 to his wife, and Guy 1 goes, “Oh my God! You’re the . . . fourth . . . prettiest girl at Faire!”

    He’ll never live it down.

    • Holy crap! Too much ale methinks…

  2. i personally think you should wear skirts more often!! but that’s just my opinion.

  3. I recently got a “Your braver than I am…” “compliment” while at the beach on Memorial Day weekend by a middle-aged woman about half my size because I was wearing a bathing suit. She wasn’t wearing a bathing suit on that gorgeously hot and sunny beach day, but still I found it odd that she would think I’m “brave” for wearing a bathing suit…at the beach…Did I mention it was Memorial Day weekend? I don’t know what kind of response she was expecting, but I think I kind of stumped her when I said with the utmost sincerity, “Oh, yeah, that must be a bummer! Don’t worry, I am sure you can still manage to enjoy the weather!”

  4. you were wearing a skirt?, How did I miss that?

  5. Love this! I’ve been on a compliment-people-as-much-as-possible kick. I’m going to keep it up.

    But…haven’t we all heard the one that kicks it all…”you have such a beautiful face!”

    Or my favorite, “when you lose weight you’ll be gorgeous!” What am I now…ugly?!

    hugs,
    susie

  6. My two pet hates are “flattering” and “slimming”. I got the flattering one three times yesterday. I want to get all FA on their arse but I know their intentions are good. GAH!

  7. I always want to compliment strangers. There are so many women that I see around and I want to walk up to them and say, “I’m sorry if this is weird for you, but I think you are amazingly beautiful.” Or, for the woman in Target today, “That is a fabulous dress and it fits you so perfectly.” Too unsolicited?

    Also, I read this post to my mom the other day, over the phone, because Ragen is just plain awesome and my new favorite person in the whole world.

    • Hi Julie,

      Your comment made my day for so many reasons. First, because I think that complimenting strangers is one of the most awesome things that you can do, so I say continue with the unsolicited complimenting. Second, because you read the post to your mom. I hope that she liked it. Third because I got to be your new favorite person in the whole world and that is completely and totally fantastic. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend and thank you so much for your comment!

      ~Ragen


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