[Cross-Post] A Vow of Complimenting from Kate at Eat The Damn Cake.

girl taking picture in the mirror

So remember when I told you about one of my new favorite blogs, Eat The Damn Cake? And then, remember when my post about the Shoe Astronauts got cross-posted over at ETDC and I was hopping around all excited?

Well. Am hopping all around again, because now I’ve bullied asked nicely and today, we have ETDC’s very own Kate, cross-posting over here about why we should all be giving out a lot more compliments.

This topic really speaks to me, because over at Beauty U, we so often zero in on someone’s flaw (perceived or real) to get them to buy a product or splurge on another treatment. Even when we do give compliments, it’s all part of the sales pitch. (Did you know Avon ladies are trained to compliment their potential customer within the first five minutes?)

So I’ve been getting all jaded about this being nice business. Here’s Kate to remind us why genuine-no-strings-attached compliments are actually great:

It’s really important to compliment people. In terms of body image, I think it’s extremely important that women compliment other women. I believe this absolutely. I’ve never understood dismissive people. I’ve never understood rude people. I have a sort of grudging respect for them once in a while, because it looks like they don’t have to go through the trouble of caring constantly about other people. Which must be kind of liberating.

But mostly I just feel like if I was trapped in an escape pod with one of these people, hurtling through space, we’d have nothing to say to each other. Even if we were stuck there for a week. Of course, now that I think about it, maybe meeting someone in an escape pod, blasting off from an exploding space station, might interfere with a person’s ability to be dismissive. They might start telling me about how their dad left when they were little.

The point, however much I’ve now tortured it, is: I don’t understand people who aren’t nice on a basic level to other people.

Because I think that everyone should be more than basically nice to each other. I think we should give each other compliments a lot. I think women should compliment other women regularly. Lavishly. Casually. Every way imaginable. But it’s really hard sometimes.

Here are two instances in which I recently completely failed:

1. I was on the subway. There was this woman wearing a ridiculously creative outfit. That’s saying a lot for Manhattan. I’ve seen a woman walking down Broadway in a purple evening gown. I saw a woman in the train station wearing a top, a poofy skirt, and high heels that were all decorated with rainbow stripes going in different directions. And then there are the occasional monks, new age spiritual leaders, and budding fashion designers. Oh, and the young gay guys. Gotta love ‘em. But this woman stood out even among them. She looked gorgeous. She was black and voluptuous and had her hair pulled back slightly with a headband too thin to see. Her hair exploded behind the band, like a cloud. She was wearing all pastels and white, and her heavy eyeshadow was glintingly silver. Her features were wide set and naturally dramatic, and she was working with them. She was taking her beauty to its natural extreme. I stood there, feeling lame and sallow and uncreative, trying to stare at her without being obvious. She caught me, of course. I looked away. What I really wanted to do was just tell her. I thought about it through the next three stops, trying to work up the courage. I could say, “I love your outfit!” But what I really wanted to say was, “You are gorgeous!”

The doors slid open at my stop and I got off. I walked right by her. I couldn’t do it. It’d be too weird. Damn. Damn. What if no one told her how good she looked? What if she went through her entire day, wearing that astounding outfit, with her bold makeup and fabulous face, and no one acted appreciative? Well, maybe she was just doing it for herself. But still.

2. I was talking with a casual friend about the dating scene in NYC. She was telling me about her adventures with online dating, and she made a comment like, “But you know how it is. This city is full of models and stunning women. I’m not kidding myself. I’m fine, but I’m not—“ She didn’t complete the sentence. Just shrugged and left it at that. I thought, “You’re totally beautiful!” But I didn’t say anything. I was worried she’d get awkward and wonder why I was being weird.

OK. Let’s just take a moment here. When’s the last time someone who wasn’t a sleazy guy told you, “You’re totally beautiful,” and you thought, “Weird. What a weirdo,” and didn’t feel the slightest bit flattered?

Here’s what I think. I think that it’s my responsibility as a woman to compliment other women. I know how self-conscious I feel about my appearance. I know how stupid I get about it. I know how competitive and sometimes hopeless it feels. I know how much support I need. Every single time one of my friends compliments me, it means something. It means a lot.

It sounds like a little thing– just saying someone looks good– but, you know, it could change the world if everyone did it. Like sustainable energy. Recycling. Charity. Asiago cheese. What? That stuff is amazing! Seriously. It is. And seriously, compliment a woman today!

If I ever see that woman from the subway again, I have no excuse.

*  *   *  *  *

Un-roast: Today I love the way I look in shorts. I just got denim short shorts, and they’re really hot. I wore them out with gold sandals and a white tank top today. Pretty sweet. My legs aren’t very long, but I have a curvy little Jewish girl look with the shorts.

Everyone: Do you ever compliment strangers? What about friends?

PS from Virginia:

Notice how I’ve been doing these cross-posts lately? Want to be part of the fun? Email me at beautyschooledproject [at] gmail [dot] com if you’ve got something to say. (Sorry Kate, for hijacking the bottom of your post with this shameless plug. You are pretty.)

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14 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Posted May 27, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I totally love it when you guys cross post…it’s a tad confusing for a second..I get lost in the post and forget where I am.

    than reality sets in, I get my bearings and go on with my day.

    It’s fun!
    :)

    Love this topic. LOVE LOVE IT.
    we do need each other.

    I work with the public and it used to just be contractors that came in but more and more it’s ladies..professional ones or techs.
    and I always blurt out some silly comment over jewelry or makeup or admittedly a tattoo.

    I do it to the grocery clerk or someone in line ahead of me..and I’m a tag fixer.

    but I have also too, been too nervous (why??) to say..OH MY GOD I love this or that .

    great post.
    unroast? oh boy however I really love my legs these days. I have muscles. running has given me legs I finally love.
    MY legs have muscles. that is insane!

    okay. I’m good.
    Thanks Guys!

  2. Michele
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    My 5 year old daughter has recently started approaching total strangers (and even some folks she knows) to tell them they are beautiful. She (mostly) checks in with me first, “Momma, she’s really beautiful. Can I tell her?” And I always say yes, and she says to the object of her affection, “You are beautiful.” I tear up as I write this because it’s such a simple thing, and coming from a child so unencumbered with any expectations of reward, other than the joy that lights up those faces. And I’m also saddened because at some point I will have to discourage her interaction with strangers and that will be the end of that. But I cherish those moments for now.

    I especially love that her idea of beauty is not some cookie-cutter, straight out of a magazine or TV, look. She approaches men & women of all kinds. Sooo cool, this kid.

  3. kmw
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I think this is a great post and really made me think…you are absolutely right why does it feel weird to compliment a friend that way, like it’s so extreme or something. Well I will be changing my ways whether my friends like or not.

  4. katherine
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I was raised in the South, and the whole “say something nice” thing is HUGE. When I moved for college, I was told again and again that if I talked to people on the street (to say hello, nod, or whatever) that I WOULD get shot.
    Then I moved to New York. There were simply TOO MANY amazing people, all amazingly decked out, and I started complimenting again.
    My pharmacist has amazing eyelashes. So I told her. Those boots are fantastic! That eye shadow really makes your eyes POP!…and so on.
    Often times I am having too quiet of a day, and can only muster a “yessss!” when I see people who are amazing. But I do think that when I pay the odd compliment on the subway, and go back to my book (to assure the person that I am neither hitting on them or bonkers) that they hop off the train with a definite bounce.

  5. wisiti
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I go out of my way to compliment complete strangers. I always get the impression that they think I am weird, but they always look appreciative of the comment as well. Partly, I compliment because I know how it makes me feel, and I want other people to feel the same way. The other reason I compliment is because, damn those jeans are hot and I want to get a pair too! (Which I know is a violation of some kind of manners code, but…)

  6. Posted May 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    @Michele
    That’s absolutely beautiful, about your daughter. It blows my mind, how completely pure that sentiment is. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Caroline
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Here’s something sad: I do compliment people a lot, not intentionally, I just see things I admire and say so. It’s always totally genuine, but my female friends now often disregard my opinion. I say something completely sincere, and they say, “Oh, well, you don’t count, you think everyone’s pretty.” And I genuinely do think there’s something beautiful and attractive to be found in everyone…. but to some people, that means no one is beautiful or special.

    That’s a depressing reaction, but overall I agree with you, and I still love to give lots of compliments. And I think that underneath the tough talk, giving lots of compliments does its work.

  8. Fox
    Posted May 28, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I’ve always complimented strangers; I figure it’s my way of offsetting all the bad vibes that come from being in a hospital setting (I work there). Adults, kids, women, men. Every once in awhile, someone just glows when I do it, and that’s my payback.

    I rarely get them, though. I’m older, and wrinkly, and fat, and dress in a uniform, and I think I’m invisible to most people; rarely does anyone really look at me. I doubt I get even one compliment a month, which is kind of sad, since I have a 1000 watt smile and use it frequently.

  9. anne
    Posted May 28, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    I LOVED this post!
    I REALLY like it when someone compliments me on my clothes, my hair or the whole finished look. It validates the time and effort that went into putting myself together! I don’t fuss too much…I have my routine down-pat…it works and I’m usually pleased with the results.

    I, too, will often compliment people…especially if I want to get something that they have, etc. It’s makes people feel good about themselves….everybody needs a little/lot of that!

    As for Fox, the above-mentioned, keep flashing that mega-watt smile….someone surely will come along and tell you just how beautiful you really are.
    I, for one, usually can’t get past the face unless someone has a terrific smile.

5 Trackbacks

  1. [...] About [Cross-Post] A Vow of Complimenting from Kate at Eat The Damn Cake. [...]

  2. By conjoined « Cache Culture on May 29, 2010 at 1:51 am

    [...] really like this praxis (and this blog!). I think we should practice the same discipline when we see racism, sexism, and [...]

  3. [...] know that, you should A) check out her blog, especially the Cake Gallery and B) check out this great post she did for me awhile [...]

  4. [...] PS. Don’t forget, you also loved Kate when she did this guest post for us. Oh and this one! [...]

  5. [...] is my girl Kate of Eat the Damn Cake. Kate was one of my first blogger friends and she’s visited us round these parts before. (Oh and on Never Say Diet, too!) So she really needs no introduction. [...]

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