Compliments for beginners

Last week I received a compliment, I’m fairly sure it came from a loving place, but it came out all wrong. For about three minutes I was mortally offended and rather indignant, but then the giver of the compliment explained it and it made some sense. The compliment I took offence to was “Your eyes look very much like Mark Rylance when he’s looking slightly worried”. This is Mark Rylance, he’s looking worried, do I look like this?


On further examination I discovered the compliment meant my eyes look very thoughtful, like there are deep things being considered in my head. Fairynuff. My eyes generally get lots of compliments, which is nice.

I’m sure everyone has at sometime been given a back handed compliment. I’ve almost given up wondering why people can’t just say “your hair is nice” rather than “is it meant to look like that?”. My family are experts in making me feel like a muddy troll wearing tattered sackcloth whenever they see me. Compliments are just not done and if they are they’re clearly meant as a ‘could try harder’ motivational piece of sarcasm.

If you sometimes give compliments, especially to ladies like me who rarely hear something nice about themselves, then I’ve put together a list of nice things I think are good to try and say to people, and a list of things you should NEVER say to people, but have regrettably been said to me, sometimes more than once. Is it any wonder I have the self esteem of a worm?

What’s good:

You look nice.
You look pretty.
Haven’t you got lovely eyes/hair/smile.
That colour really suits you.
Have you lost weight? You look great.
You’re beautiful.
You’re hilarious, I love your jokes.
I love spending time with you.
I love your perfume, it really suits you.
You write beautifully.
Being with you makes me feel good.
You’re such a good person/mum/writer/driver/lover/maker of tea/whatever.

What’s not good:

Is that how you meant your hair to look?
Are you wearing make up, or do you have two black eyes?
*looks at old photo* Oh you used to be so pretty.
You should wear black more often, it suits you, makes you look slimmer than you are.
You’re not very wrinkly, but that’s probably because you’ve got a fat face.
Your eyes look very much like Mark Rylance when he’s looking slightly worried.
Oh, you’re not very tall are you?
Gosh you can drink a lot can’t you!
Have you moisturised? Your face feels greasy.

What’s the worst compliment you’ve ever received?

6 responses to “Compliments for beginners

  1. Hahaha! Brill. The one I hate is “you look a bit tired”, which pretty much means “f*ck me, you’ve aged, love!”

  2. Ha. Love this ….. am thinking of the moment I walked into a family party with a new short bob about 4 yrs ago ….. someone looked at me and then said ‘it looked better before’. Nice. That particular mortification has stayed with me.
    Btw you are beautiful and you do write extremely well ☺

  3. hahaha this is very true. some ppl just dont engage their brain before they speak (me included as well you know!) i always remember my boss saying as i worked into work (as fresh as a daisy) “oh R did you have a bad night, you look shattered” i was gutted! had a major complex about looking rough as for ages after. he claims he was joking, he so wasn’t!

    • That’s so true. I think the “you look tired” thing is meant as them being concerned for you but just makes you feel like a sack of spuds, usually happens when you’ve had a pretty decent nights sleep too :/

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