Compliment – an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration. So why is it so hard for us (and I am speaking in generalizations of women) to just say “thank you” and accept that the person expressing the compliment holds us in great esteem, has respect, affection or admiration for us. I don’t find men (and speaking in generalizations, again) have that same issue we women have about just accepting compliments at face value.
Compliments about our physical appearance seen to generate the most negative feedback response in women. Think about it, when someone says “you are so pretty” do you say thank you? Or do you say “no, I don’t my hair is messy” or how about “no I’m not, I need to lose 10 lbs.” I read a relationship book where the author said something along the lines of not saying thank you and accepting the compliment is basically calling the person offering the compliment a liar. That may sound harsh but I have to agree, up to a point. We as women, seem to have been conditioned to feel as though we are conceited if we accept a compliment without somehow deferring the attention with pointing out some part of ourselves we feel negatively about. Women seem to be able to accept compliments about our accomplishments and character much easier than those about our physical appearance; although we still tend to downplay the compliment instead of embracing it.
If someone compliments our children, our spouse or our friends we are quick, even eager to agree. The compliment “your baby is so cute” has us gushing, “oh yes, isn’t he/she the cutest baby ever!” “Your husband is so handsome” has us agreeing and then we downplay our own desirability by saying something like “I am so lucky to have him.” We should be agreeing about the compliments given about and to those we love and share our lives with but we should also acknowledge that we play a part. I don’t mean grab the spotlight away but to remember that the baby is so cute because you gave that adorable child half their genes, that handsome man who loves us was attracted to something within us.
I wonder if we, as women, have fought so hard to not be objectified that we can’t accept compliments about our physical appearance in the vein they are extended. In the same relationship book I referred to before, he mentions that men want to, even yearn to be objectified. When I asked friends both male and female what compliments they prefer to receive, more men said compliments about their physical appearance were more welcome than any other, thus furthering the notation men want to be objectified. Women preferred compliments on their family, character and accomplishments were most welcome proving women don’t need or want to be objectified.
As a society, I wonder if so many unsavory characters have used compliments against us that we shy away from accepting compliments for fear of being used and manipulated. And in doing so we don’t allow others to build us up when we are feeling down about ourselves.
So, to you reading this, believe me when I say you truly are….whatever you believe you are…beautiful, intelligent, and any other positive characteristic you feel. And no, you are not ugly, stupid or any of those other ugly characteristics you keep labeling yourself with. Embrace the phenomenal person you are and remove anyone who does not agree from your sphere of influence.