Girl Talk: Guilty of giving backhanded compliments? Read on to change that
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Sometimes the words in our brain exit our mouths before they have a chance to be filtered; or like me, there could sometimes be no filter at all. There has undoubtedly been a time in all of our lives where we attempt to give someone a compliment and it turns out to hurt the person you say it to instead of making them feel good. When a back handed compliment falls out of your mouth and into the unsuspecting ears of its receiving party, is it just an accident with good intentions, or was it a passive aggressive insult?
Our subconscious makes us do crazy things. We say things we don’t intend to say. We feel things we don’t mean to feel and we take actions we don’t mean to take. Sometimes it’s a case of jealous or rude behavior, but often enough, it is truly on accident.
As a woman who is constantly on the go, there are days when I dress to the nines, do my hair, put on make-up and make the world my runway. Then there are days that I live in leggings and boots, I throw my hair in a bun type of shape and go about my day. I can’t tell you how often I have heard “you’re really pretty when you actually try.” Ouch, that compliment may mean well, but try rephrasing it with “you look nice today” on the days you can tell someone went the extra mile and leave out the part about them looking like a hot mess most days. Try finding something nice to say to them on those less-than-runway days too. It’s nice to be noticed, but it’s also nice to be loved on the sweat pant days.
When someone tells you that “your life looks fun on Facebook”, are they being envious of your day to day activities or are they calling you fake? There is more to life than our highlight reels, but people can easily judge you on what they see verses what they know. Maybe our life isn’t as glamorous in reality as it is online. Instead of saying that, you could try mentioning the specific cool thing you saw instead of telling them their life isn’t all glitter and rainbows. Trust me when I tell you they already know that.
Single girls are often on the receiving end of the backhanded compliments. They receive praise for being independent women, but in the next breath hear that their self-sufficient nature is going to scare men away. They are told that they won’t find a good man if they aren’t occasionally the damsel in distress and that it is intimidating when men find a girl who challenges their masculinity.
Another classic backhanded compliment ladies so often hear is that “your face is beautiful” when talking to a girl who may not have your ideal body type. Try highlighting a particular feature in your compliment instead of making it a case of face-versus-the-rest. While we are at it, isn’t it also about time to retire the “that outfit is really slimming on you” line? These women are gorgeous from head to toe and every inch in between. They are comfortable in the body that they have and if they are being brave enough to put themselves out there. I guarantee you they are so much more than just a pretty face and they embrace it.
Backhanded compliments are going to happen; it’s an inevitable part of who we are. Before saying one, try thinking about how it would feel if someone were to say the same thing to you. Are you really complimenting them or is there unintentional subtext? For those who are really just looking to sting with a little bit of honey, well then prepare to handle the heat. The road to hell is not only paved with good intentions, but also back handed compliments.
Girl Talk began in 2012 as a telltale horror story of the city’s most epic dating disasters and has evolved into a column about love, life experiences and growing up. Melissa also has a weekly Girl Talk TV segment on PA Live, WBRE, and a radio segment every Wednesday on 98.5 KRZ.