The other day my friend Caitlin and I met for dinner, and I
greeted her with: ‘Ahhh Cait, your skin looks great!’ and she replied with ‘Thanks
Em, I love your trousers!’
We do it without realising, but usually when we greet our friends
(personally, I find I do it more with my female friends than male ones) we feel inclined, and even obliged, to compliment
each other on our appearance. Please don’t jump to the conclusion that by
singling out females, I am being sexist when I say that – I do often compliment
my male friends and colleagues on their appearance, it just doesn’t happen as
instinctively and therefore happen as often.
But why is this a problem? Surely it’s a positive way to
interact with others around us? Don’t get me wrong, we all love a compliment
once in a while, but when I was thinking about this the other day I realised
that I think I compliment solely appearance nearly every time I interact with
another person. Although
we think this must have a positive effect on our friends, it’s more than likely
that actually it’s causing the opposite effect. If I go to an extra effort to
make myself look nice and then get no compliments on my physical appearance, I
would feel unconfident, unattractive and inadequate because that validation and
reassurance that we strive for every day is not there.
Caitlin and I were happily shoving Chicken Korma and Aloo Gobi in our faces,
she told me that last year when she lost a load of weight, she was actually disappointed
that some of her friends hadn’t noticed and complimented her on her body shape.
I think possibly part of this goes back to the classic: ‘Do unto
others as you would have them do unto you’.
We love receiving compliments, so if we give one does that make it likely that
we’ll get one back? In a society where we’re constantly looking for validation
that we’re good, fun and attractive people, a compliment in the office is the
equivalent of a like on Instagram. But although complimenting our contemporaries
on their appearance can be a great thing, it also proves that we value our
friends and colleagues’ appearance above everything else. Surely it’s more important
that the people we love know why we love them, and that it’s not just because those
culottes they bought for a fiver in the Topshop sale suit their hourglass
figure down to an absolute tee.
over dinner, Caitlin and I agreed to continue to compliment each other just as
much, but to compliment each other on things that really matter, to basically
let each other know why we like each other.
‘I really enjoyed that blog post you wrote, Emma’ (whyyyyy thank you *smirky
as if you went on a 10k run, that’s incredible!’
get the idea. It does feel weird at first, but hopefully soon telling someone
that they’re a great person will feel as natural as telling someone that they’re
eyebrows are on fleek.
let’s get compliment creative. When I dropped Caitlin off we did the classic awkward car hug, paused for
a moment, and then, in synchronisation, both said: “You’re a reaaaaaally nice
When my ex-boyfriend and I broke up, Caitlin sent me this home made card all the way from Brazil. And that is why I love her.