Compliments That Don’t Suck

One of my Facebook friends posted about her intentional weight loss.  Someone commented saying “You’re looking so great! Congratulations, keep working at it. And did I mention that you’re looking great!?”

I immediately fast forwarded to five years from now when there is a 95% chance that she will have re-gained the weight.  Then what is she to take from all of these compliments for her now former body size and shape?  How will she feel? Also, “keep working at it” seems to say “what you’ve done is not good enough”.  Yikes.

I have had friends and blog readers who’ve lost weight because they were sick, or stressed, who’ve said that this kind of compliment makes them cringe.   They couldn’t help but wonder how the person thought that they  looked like before.  And it made it awkward when they regained the weight.

I recently saw someone I know who had lost a huge amount of weight in a very short time.  She looked gaunt and her color was off.  I thought that perhaps she had been sick but I didn’t want to assume anything so I just asked how she was doing.  It turns out she lost the weight on purpose and is super happy with the results.  That’s absolutely her right, my goal is to compliment her in a way that will be supportive whether or not she keeps the weight off.  So when she said “I’ve been losing weight, don’t I look great!”  I went with “You’ve always been beautiful, I’m glad that you are happy.”

So compliments can be a minefield.  But they’re also awesome.  So what’s a girl to do?

Come up with a compliment guide, that’s what:

No Body Comparisons

Bodies are beautiful all the time.  Some people’s body size changes because they want it to, some people’s size changes because of extraneous, even undesired, circumstances.  Either way, it’s impossible to tell people that they look better without telling them that they looked worse, and that’s no good.  So, don’t do it. Try this:

  • You’ve always been beautiful and I’m glad that you are happy.
  • You are beautiful at every size

No backhanded compliments

This should be a “no duh” kind of thing but you’d be surprised. A compliment should never include:

  • “For a” as in “You’re really athletic for a fat girl”
  • “I guess”  as in “That dress is great I guess”
  • “such, but” as in “You have such a pretty face, but you need to do something about your weight.”
  • “brave” as in “You’re so brave to wear a sleeveless shirt”.

Drop the “for a” and “I guess”. Drop “such”, “but” and everything after, consider adding an adjective.

  • That dress is great.
  • You have a very pretty face.

Any mention of “brave” that is not followed by “for fighting off those wild animals” is a bad call.  Try “You look great in that shirt.”

Ah, that’s better.

No putting yourself down as part of a compliment

  • You look great, I wish I had legs like that
  • wow, great job, I could never press that much weight
  • I love your hair, I could never pull that look off

It ruins the compliment the person feels like they have to make you feel better at the end of it.  Just drop the part about you:

  • You look great.
  • Wow, great job.
  • I love your hair.

Easy squeezy.

So go forth and compliment fearlessly!

Published in: on August 24, 2011 at 10:15 am  Comments (45)  

45 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Awesome!

  2. Fantastic. Thanks.

  3. Thank you for this. After a recent round of, “compliment roulette” with a very close and dear friend of mine, as well as trying to find ways to compliment others without leaving both the receiving party and myself with an empty feeling, this couldn’t have come at a better time. Very well put indeed!

  4. I’ve lost a great deal of weight in the last couple of years, not because I set out to, (“I’m going to lose this weight and be thin and my life will be magical!”), but because I just started to deal with some emotional issues and it’s lead to weight loss. However, the uproar especially recently with the compliments has been almost sad. When people tell me I look great, I usually respond with a “I’ve always looked great, thanks for reminding me!”. People want to dish about “how much I’ve lost” and I won’t let them. I fell for it once and got an, “OMG, you lost an entire me!” in return. It sucked. Also, as you said, what happens if I gain the weight back? That person that complimented me only did so because they felt I had value in losing weight. I have value in so many other ways worthy of interest.

  5. Thank you! I’ve been battling anorexia/bulimia so my weight has been emaciated a lot of my life. But now that I’m recovering, I get ‘compliments’ all the time – “Oh, you have put on so much weight!” “You look so well!” “You look so much better” etc…I know that the eating disorder twists things into “you look so fat” etc, but still, it’s so hard to deal with a lot of the things that get said to me. If only people read this blog of yours first!!!

    • I would love to make all weight-related comments illegal. Can’t they just say “you’re looking nice today” or something of that nature? I hate the fact that if I were ever to lose any significant amount of weight for whatever reason, the stupid weight related “compliments” would start. And as you point out, the knife cuts both ways. Weight related compliments should not be interpreted as positive.

  6. Only time I use the “you’re so brave” line with clothing, is for white pants. It has nothing to do with the wearer’s body size or actual appearance, but with my history with white pants. You know those NASA clean rooms, such as the one where they made the mirrors for the Hubble Space Telescope? If I wore white pants, I’d still end up with a grease stain, even if I wore them solely in a clean room. I put on white pants, and the nearest spot of grease will start crawling after me, laughing evilly. Anyone wearing white pants must be brave, to so tempt fate.

    My wife’s all-time disfavorite is the line, “You’d be so pretty if you just lost some weight.” The best come back (IMNSHO) is, “Wow. You’d seem so intelligent if you’d just keep your mouth shut.”

    • Nice comeback! I always like a good “Do you realize you said that out loud?”

      Anyway, I am with you on the white pants. Hello coffee spill!

    • I love it! I’m going to steal that line!
      Me wearing white pants would be brave. I’d probably get something on them even if I just sat in the same spot all day!

  7. You’re a few days too late! lol I went to a wake last weekend for a good friend’s mother. My friend had gastric bypass a year ago and I haven’t seen her much. I didn’t even recognize her! I told her she was beautiful…and I’m certain I added a few things that were unnecessary.

    Compliments are a hard thing. My friend was beautiful before. She’s beautiful now. And the weight loss has made a difference. She carries herself differently. She smiles more–even at her mother’s wake. She was much more expressive all around.

    I hope, for her, sake that she’s not one of the 95% regainers. Just because gastric bypass is a drastic move to not be permanent. Not because she’ll be any less beautiful if she regains the weight.

    I remember reading a commentary in the magazine BBW long ago written by a man whose wife had terminal cancer. He was so angry that people kept coming up to her, complimenting her on her weight loss, telling her she looked great and to keep up the great work. That has stuck with me for years. The message I took away from that: it doesn’t matter how sick you get as long as you get/stay thin…

    Enough! Thanks for making me think today!
    Susie

  8. My favorite thing to do is, when someone says “You look great! Have you lost weight?” I say, “Nope.” Then they get all confused. I can see their thought process: “What? How can she look great if she hasn’t lost weight? Wait, does this mean she looks the same as before? Does that mean she’s always looked great, even before the perceived weight loss?” *brain explodes*

    • I got “You like different, did you loose weight?” once when I came to work in my new pants. My answer was (as always) “No, I just combed my hair this morning for a change”. Absurd question deserves absurd answer…

      @Ragen: I love your blog. HAES is quite unknown in Germany. Neither is the concept of body acceptance. At least in public. But it’s gonna change :)

      • I shouldn’t change my sentences and NOT read the following sentences again. Of course, it must be:
        HAES is quite unknown in Germany. Nor is the concept of body acceptance.

  9. This made me think back to when I was in the throes of my eating disorder, unhealthy and underweight, having people tell me how good I looked and wondering if I’d ever considered modeling. Even in my twisted mental state, I could tell that being told that kind of thing was absurdly inappropriate (and my mother told me later that hearing people tell me that made her cringe — she obviously didn’t want me to have any more encouragement to keep starving myself). I can only imagine how those well-intentioned complimenters would feel if they knew why I looked the way I looked. The bottom line — compliments, or any remarks, should never be tied to weight, or to comparisons between a person’s current body and past body. Excellent post, excellent points, thank you!

  10. Have been meaning to reply to a few of your posts and now have lost thread of which ones, so bear with me! I go on a weekly “health walk” run as part of our National Health Service and as it’s on a wednesday morning at 10am and uses volunteers to run it, it consists almost completely of women and they are mostly in the over age 55/60 age group. It’s really pleasant and we go for a coffee after, but I felt sad today that many of the women kept on about how many of us was having a cake/bun etc., and how they were “being good” if they weren’t. There didn’t look anything wrong with any of these women and almost all were smaller than me! Then the woman I get a lift with, who is 72, was saying she was joining Weight Watchers in the morning as she “really needed to do something”. I find it all so tedious and sad and would you believe I actually start to feel uneasy, as if they are willing me to add to this conversation and agree, whereas I just go quiet and refuse to contribute. Why do not value ourselves and other women and stop colluding in this? The others didn’t say to her, why was she doing this, just commented she should eat as much as possible today, how crazy is that?!!

    Also thought I would share with you all some comments I saw in a quality magazine here in the UK, called “The Lady”. According to some scientists “it is almost impossible to lose weight and keep it off, once people have been fat, their body usually returns to that size”. A study here found that 12 million British people diet annually(60 million total population)of these less than 10 per cent succeed, and most regain the weight within a year.

    Ragen, this backs up everything you say and bring our attention to and I thank you for that.

    • I know what you mean about diet talk. I just go really quiet, although once in awhile I bravely assert that my motto is “eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full”. People usually respond that that’s great, except they can’t do it. Hmm. Yet they keep dieting…and what kind of track record does that have?

  11. When I was in my late teens/early twenties I developed depression, anxiety and stress induced anorexia and people close to me were constantly complimenting me on my weight loss. I’ve destroyed most photos of myself from that time because I looked visibly unwell and it upsets me so much that people were telling me I looked better like that than when I was happy and healthy.

    So, thank you so much for this post.

  12. I agree!
    I used to be horribly underweight for health reasons, and most compliments were about how ‘slim’ I was. Never mind that I was 5’11 and 47 kilos with black circles under my eyes, apparently my flat stomach and small & perky breasts were worth it. After years of that, my body image changed, and I no longer worried that my ribs were showing, I felt sexy and confident in my slimness. So many women had told me they envied me, eventually I believed that my weight was the most attractive thing about me.

    Nearly 20 years later, with a normal body weight, I still feel fat because I can no longer balance a ruler between my hip bones, & I now need to wear a bra. I can honestly say that I wasn’t affected by media images (for most of that time I didn’t own a TV or see a movie), but simply by the things people chose to compliment me on. I’m sure their intentions were good, but I wish they had focussed on my eyes, or my hair, or my laugh…

    I worked for Jenny Craig for years, which was (surprisingly) a really nurturing environment. I thought I’d hate working with only women, but when your job is to find positive things to say about every client, you make everyone around you feel good.We’d focus on how strong a woman was, or her lovely smile (or eyes or hair!).Even when someone lost weight, we’d talk about how much more energy they had, how they held themselves, how they felt… this was as important as a number on a scale or dress label. I wish I’d been around that kind of attitude when I was younger…

    Anyway, that’s my two cents’ worth:)

  13. Thanks for a great post.
    Reminding people how to appropriately compliment is wonderful. Thanks to talk shows, where the lack of manners seems mandatory, people have forgotten. In the case of the south, it seems to be intentional however: as if the compliment makes the criticism ok. That makes me crazy.
    If I had a nickel for every time (since my earliest memories)someone did the beautiful face, but… thing, I would be rich. For a while I said “even draft horses are beautiful; not everyone needs to be an Arab”. I guess I got tired of defending myself!
    On the other hand, when living in Europe, people were outright ugly when I was exercising. If I were with my dogs they’d call me us the 3 pigs. I lost some weight and my neighbors would remark that it was about time. The best is when people saw me jogging and would remark how UNHEALTHY that was for a fat girl. Some days I would go home and cry because the number of horrible comments wore my armor down. In the end I exercised in my living room because it was traumatic every time I went out.

  14. I love this post!!! I get a lot of “keep up the good work!” type compliments about my weight loss efforts, and it kind of stings, especially because it feels like they are telling me that my current size isn’t good enough… and I’m pretty close to where I want to be, size-wise and health-wise.

  15. An old housemate I bump into every six months or so recently told me that I looked great, better than he’d ever seen me. Didn’t mention weight. I didn’t know what to say, as he looks like he’d lost 50 pounds, was very thin, and looked like s*it. Can’t say that. Turns out he has candida, can only eat meat and green veg, not happy about it.

  16. I cannot quantify how much I hate the “did you lose weight, you look great” compliment.

    Whether or not I did lose weight (and usually I am pretty much exactly the same weight as I had been the last time I’d met that person), this question/”compliment” makes me feel like chopped liver. No, make that steamed turd. I like chopped liver.

  17. I’ve recently (intentionally) lost 60lbs over the past five months, and people I know (even those that don’t know me well) have been quick to say things like: “you look so much better now” and “congratulations on finally losing all that weight.” Often, it’s followed up with, “just a little more to go and you’ll look great” or something of the sort.

    While I’m happy that my weight loss is helping with my health and appreciate some of the compliments, inside it hurts when people come out and say these things and make me feel like I never really did look good before — and still don’t, but could if I “kept working on it.”

    Thanks for writing this.

    • Can totally relate to you. I remember losing 60lbs a while back and getting the “just imagine how great you’ll look when you are actually thin” type of reaction. Gee thanks, “friend.”

  18. Great, thoughtful post. I agree that compliments are very tricky. Even the “you look great at any size” can backfire, if the person has been putting a lot of effort into losing weight, as it seems like you are being dismissive of the effort and of the weight loss that is first in THEIR mind.

    I prefer to not comment on people’s body appearance in any way, but focus on the things that are clearly choice-based and easy for a person to follow up on: “Nice dress, you have such great taste in clothes,” or “You’re looking very happy today.”

    Any time we comment on a person’s body, whether its a cut or a compliment, we are reinforcing the “value” of body shape and style, when that whole focus can be emotionally and physically damaging.

  19. I agree, in spades. Like a previous commentor, I’ve struggled with bulimia for 10 years (and I’m only 21 – thank you, society). My biggest struggle is always realizing that my worth has nothing to do with my weight/appearance. Recently at a family party, an aunt came up to me and smiled. “You’re wasting away, girl!”, she said. “You look fantastic!” I had no idea what to say to that. Weight-based compliments are so frustrating, because it just strengthens the voice in my head that tells me all I am is a number, and that number is only worthwhile if it is low.

  20. A few days ago, after a few people complimented me on my unintentional weight loss, it was the first time that I had never felt happy or sad about it. I don’t take that as a compliment anymore or as an insult. We should all acknowledge changes in our size/bodies as a natural thing and treat it as a matter of fact. So if a fat person is told that he/she is fat should not feel offended but laugh at the others for stating the obvious. I just hate it when 100 pound girls tell me to my face (I’m 183-ish BTW)that they are fat and should loose weight. Really?! Thanks for the helpful tips, we should all learn that compliments go beyond skin deep and more than ever we should also praise other people’s accomplishments in life, not just the ones that are appearance oriented.

  21. [Warning: This comment is admittedly ageist, paternalistic, confuses the author's experience with everyone else's experience and may be triggering for some]. Sorry, I have to weigh in (pun intended) on the other side of this issue. I worked my ass off (literally) to lose over 100 pounds. I love the compliments even if they are not done well. I admit to doing it for health reasons however I also admit to being vain. I think people over-think everything, especially those under the age of 50. I’m probably a bit ageist but I feel like having lived and worked to get to past 50, I get to be a little bit. Take the compliment with a good spirit, smile and move the hell on. If someone is going to take the time and energy to compliment you, be polite and just say “thank you”.

    • You appear to be making the very common mistake of confusing your experience with everyone else’s. It’s fine for you to decide to take the compliment with good spirit, smile and move the hell on. It’s fine for you to do whatever you want. I do not find it fine to make the completely ageist assumption that you know what’s best for those who are younger than you simply because you’ve been around longer.

      Age doesn’t always bring wisdom after all, sometimes it arrives alone; and not dying yet does not indicate that you know better than anyone else what’s best for them. I also think saying that you are entitled to be ageist at 50 means you’ve someone learned the word and yet entirely missed the point of ageism. Just as the only thing you can tell by someone’s size is what size they are, the only thing that you can tell by someone’s age is how old they are.

      I won’t speak for others but I find your comment paternalistic and inappropriate. It’s absolutely not your job to tell me how to react to the comments of others, or to diminish my experience or feelings simply because you don’t share them. It’s actually not your job to tell me how to do anything – you make decisions for you, I make decision for me (you might want to check out this post for clarification http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/im-ok-youre-ok-the-fat-version/ ) I am not required to “be polite and say thank you” when I feel that I’m being belittled, condescended to, insulted, backhandedly complimented etc.

      I would further suggest that it’s especially important to realize that, for the time being, you’ve moved out of the stigmatized group and into the rewarded group and so your perspective is very likely going to be different, and I would suggest that you consider whether it’s appropriate for you to try to present yourself as being a better witness to the experience of the stigmatized than they are.

      Thank you,

      ~Ragen

    • There are so many groups on the internet. I just am kind of at a loss why you would choose a size acceptance blog to chime on on justification of why you deserve a compliment for losing a 100 lbs that admit for BOTH health reasons and vanity? Have you not read any of Ragen’s blogs. It’s not like she needs me to defend her. I just find your post offensive.
      I have a tendency when people I run across come off like you do. And I am dying to know if you will admit to this or not. When people like you come as you are owed a compliment like you have accomplished a feat no one else ever has, snarky wenches like me don’t say a word. It isn’t because I am jealous of you though, so please don’t think that for like a milli-second. Do you think though that the few people who don’t compliment you are not because they are jealous of you? Perhaps they find your condescending,superficial egotistical attitude to be offputting. Almost 10 years post op after a disastrous wls experience, most of the time I know weight loss is transitionary, for most. I don’t care how you lost your weight, how long you’ve kept it off. Let me know when you bust your ass and it results in a cure for cancer. Or do missionary work in an impoverished country with starving children. If I had a dollar for everyone I know who’s lost 100 lbs, wls or not the last 15 years I’ve been on the internet I’d be a zillionaire. If I had a dollar for how many people I’ve met on the internet, who promote a healthy mindset and healthy lifestyle who are beautiful inside and out who don’t use weight or size as a measure of their own self esteem, I’d be part owner of a McDonalds extra value meal that by looking at me you would never guess I would never eat…..

      • I don’t know, Lisa. Over the years I bet I’ve met (or at least read) at least a thousand people on the Internet who promote a healthy mindset and healthy lifestyle who are beautiful inside and out who don’t use weight or size as a measure of their own self esteem. And there are more of us every day!

  22. I sometimes worry when friends of mine lose a lot of weight in a short time, but I don’t want to offend them by voicing the concern, even when they show obvious signs of abstaining from eating, etc. Maybe this is a tangent, but do you have any advice as to a kind way of breaking it to a friend that you’re a little worried about their degree of weight loss? I used to suffer from disordered eating and I WANT to speak against it, but I also don’t want to be a jerk and walk into business that isn’t mine — and I agree that everyone else is the boss of their own underpants (and their size).

    • Maybe you could just check in with them on a friendly level NOT specifically about their body? How have you been, are you happy, what’s your life been like these days…? If they mention something stressful, or medical, or the eating behavior itself, then they are giving you an opening to talk more about that.

  23. About five to seven years ago, I’d be reasonably pleased if my Dad or brother noticed that I had lost weight. The reason is not because I had lost weight (I usually hadn’t) but because they had realised that their mental image of me as mysteriously enormous was incorrect. And they had this image purely because I *wasn’t tiny*. This meant that throughout high school (and late primary school) I would receive shirts and pants that were always too big for me – in their head I was endlessly bigger than I was, because I wasn’t as small as they would have liked me to be.

    So the sign that they were using their eyes and not their preconceptions was positive. However, in recent times it’s started to feel ridiculous. My weight is healthy and constant. I’m still *not tiny*. I’m happy with my body. What the hell are they talking about? It’s as though they’re still surprised? I’ve been told I’ve lost weight when I know for a fact that I’ve put on weight (mmm, winter). Is it just supposed to be an empty compliment, or are they just confused?

    The males in my family are lovely guys, but daft. DAFT.

    Anyway, this is an excellent post and thank you. I admit that when someone is obviously trying to lose weight, I do tend to tell them that it’s noticeable, because it gives them a boost, but you’re right – where does that leave us when they put it back on? I don’t think they look any worse, but they sure do. So maybe I should knock off that practice.

  24. A good friend of mine lost about 40 lbs. through Weight Watchers a few years ago, and when she gained it back (as 95% of people do), some of the thin, so-called friends who had been cheering her on during her diet actually stopped speaking to her!

    I have a hard time knowing how to respond when people say, “You look great—have you lost weight?” Or, “You’ve lost weight, haven’t you?” I’d rather not be unkind and respond in a hostile manner to an obviously well-meant–if misguided–compliment, but I definitely do not want to encourage the notion that losing weight=good/not losing weight=bad. Recently I lost some weight because my stomach has been bothering me. (Nothing serious, just a flare-up of my occasional Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)). I don’t really want to go into detail about my innards with most people either, but I’m tempted to reply, “Yes, I haven’t been well…” primarily to embarrass them and remind them that losing weight is not always something to crow about. Instead I usually make some kind of light-hearted remark like, “I try not to worry my pretty little head about things like weight!” But I’m not sure what to say when people won’t drop the subject.

    Whenever people are surprised that I would react negatively to a comment like “you look great—have you lost weight?” I tell them that my mom has been known to say, “Your hair looks so much better than it used to.” I ask them if they would react positively to a comment like that or consider it a “compliment,” which my mom swears that it is. That story sometimes helps the listener get it. As for my mother, I’ve asked her not to comment on my appearance, period, “even if it’s a compliment,” and she certainly does it less than she used to, but I often see her biting her tongue, and sometimes she just plain can’t stop herself from saying something–anything–about my appearance, positive or negative. She also tends to go on and on (mostly negatively) about others’ appearance, and I usually just react by biting my own tongue and getting very quiet, so as not to encourage her, or I quickly try to change the subject. I wish I could think of something to say to her to let her know that I find so much emphasis on looks offensive, but when I’ve tried, she says, “I’m an artist—esthetics are important to me!”

    • I lost weight rapidly because of anxiety, and when people asked/complimented me on it, I simply said “Yes, I’ve lost weight, because I’ve been sick.” No details, but they definitely looked uncomfortable and were probably sorry they had said anything.

  25. I think the main thing for me, is that it doesn’t matter what we look like, if someone compliments me on my weight it sends a message that how worthy I am as a person is directly related to the number on my bathroom scales and the size tag in my clothing.

    I am so much more than that.

  26. I recently left a plus size clothes swap and sell group on FB because -although the clothes were great- most of the members would usually say (when someone posted a photo) “you look so great, the outfit is so slimming!” or “I couldn’t wear those clothes, I’m not tiny like you!” and so on, there were also people discussing lap band surgery, saying how fat and unhealthy they were (incidentally, my height and weight!) and almost EVERYONE congratulated them on getting the surgery… and the worst thing, what made me leave the group, was when one brave lady posted on the wall of the group that being a plus size clothes group, maybe it should be a safe place for all of us to discuss pretty clothes and leave size comments behind and you know what the administrators of the group did? They deleted her comment! And also publicly embarrassed her by saying that those things should be discussed privately! I understand not everyone is quite yet into size acceptance, but they weren’t even able to hear the other side of the story, there was no room in the group for someone to think differently, made me so sad!

    Sorry, I realize this may not be entirely related to the compliments topic, but it’s just a sad realisation that sometimes the hardest criticism can come from fellow fatties.

    • I hear you! Actually, we hear you! All the fat people that go through the same thing…trying to stay positive even if their fellow fatties are so…against themselves I guess. The bad thing is that they want to make us feel bad about ourselves too, like if they can’t enjoy their plus size bodies/clothing/lifestyle neither should the rest of us. I think this lack of solidarity is holding us back :(. We compare our bodies feeling ‘relieved’ if someone’s a few pounds heavier. Ridiculous…

  27. Excellent post! I would suggest that “you have a very pretty face” might be better as simply “you’re very pretty” because when someone says “you have a pretty face” I hear the unspoken “if only your body weren’t so ugly”, which is not so helpful.

    I love giving compliments, but there are so many more things you can compliment someone on than their body size! “I love the way you dress, you always look fabulous”, “you have beautiful hair”, “I love listening to you sing”, “you smell good”, “you tell the best stories!”

  28. This really is a favorite subject of mine, because I have really heard some beauts over the years.

    When I was a fat teen: “You really have a pretty face…” Palpable pause – I knew they meant the rest of me was not pretty.

    Later, when I was thinner (socially acceptably so), I constantly got, from people who never knew me as fat, “You’ve lost weight, right? You look great!” To which I would growl, “No, I’ve been this weight for quite a while.” I could only surmise that I was a fat person stuck in a thin(ner) person’s body, and they could somehow see my fat shadow (which is becoming corporeal these days).

    Recently, I had a friend who became gluten-sensitive and not only shunned all gluten-containing foods, but all carbohydrates. Of course he lost weight. There was a lengthy discussion on his FB page about how good he looked. I decided to post “[Name], you always look great to me, fat or thin!” I remembered too late that I’m one of the few people I know that doesn’t consider the word “fat” a dirty word. I hope he didn’t take offense. One person actually “liked” my comment so I guess it wasn’t too offensive to him.

    Good point about not insulting ourselves while giving a compliment. Believe it or not, my mother trained me to give a compliment that way! I don’t like it when others do it to me and yet I still hear the words come out of my mouth, too late for me to yank them back in.

    These days I just like telling people how beautiful they are to me. Period. End of story.

    Great post, thanks for the valuable tips!

  29. This is the second time I’ve accidentally stumbled upon your blog, and I’m so happy I did! Thanks for taking the time to write this.

    Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what it is that someone has said to you that makes you shrivel up inside, especially when you know that they have good intentions. My sister recently lost about 40 pounds, after having been overweight for just a few years. I have been overweight for about twenty years now. I realize that she worked really hard to lose the weight, and she does look great, but every time she receives a compliment in my presence, it makes me feel even worse about my size. It feels as though by not saying anything to me, they are silently judging me, and that I am not meeting their expectations. Add this to the fact that I am not meeting my own expectations, and the hurt is compounded.

    I guess my point is, be mindful of others when complimenting one person and not the others present, because you never know who might be struggling with their self-esteem or just having a bad day.

    • That’s a really good point, and one I really hadn’t thought of.thanks!

      ~Ragen

  30. I’ve been on the receiving end of some backhanded compliments, and they usually end up making me feel worse than before. Just saying “You look great today!” can be the best thing to hear. Sometimes simple is best!
    This is a great list to go by, and it will remind me to watch out how I compliment others.

  31. I couldn’t agree more, except that NEVER EVER tell an overweight person that they “have a pretty face” at all. Simply saying “you are pretty” is the way to go.


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