We all give compliments. I bet you give them daily and don’t even realise! The question is: why are we so shockingly bad at accepting them?! Listen to the replies from the majority of people when you give them a compliment and see what you notice. In my experience it goes a bit like this…
You Look pretty. – Oh no, you do!
I like your jacket. – What, this? It was really cheap.
Oh my God your hair today is amazing! – Thanks, it wouldn’t do what I asked it to at all today!
Let’s break this down.
We are taught from a young age a lot of conflicting information. Patriarchy tells us: be modest but not boring. Be clever, but not too smart. Enjoy sex, but don’t be a whore. Eat smaller portions. Hunch. Apologise. Wear make up? You don’t look natural. No make up? You don’t look well. Your skirt is too short. Your skirt is too long. Patriarchy tells us we are fodder for men and competition to other woman. But the patriarchy is outdated and can kiss my ass.
It tells us we should be small and meek and not have an opinion. It contradicts itself and is an unattainable, slippery, ever-changing bastard.
No wonder we feel like immediately apologising and backing away from a compliment. I never learned to be happy with myself until I met other women who were. Women who give compliments when they mean it and aren’t ashamed to look another woman in the face and tell them they’re beautiful in that moment. A turning point was hearing one woman simply say “how nice of you, thank you”. Part of me went “holy balls, did she just say thanks?” She didn’t follow up with, you look so much nicer, or “oh wow really um thanks,” – she full on accepted it, almost like it was okay!
And lo and behold, it is okay. We are taught it’s not okay. We are taught it’s arrogance to look and feel good and accept it and be proud of it. Music, poetry and TV all tell us this every day. The way we interact with other people teaches us this. I won’t teach my daughter to hate herself, or to judge herself. I will teach her that a compliment is just that, and to accept graciously with the intent it’s given. I can do this by saying nice things about myself. But being kind about my appearance in front of her. By being kind to others. By telling her she is smart, funny, kind, strong and beautiful. I can teach her as best I can not to fail at self care like I did, because no one taught me.
If some one tells you that you look super, or you have awesome hair, or you’re a clever woman, here are ways to accept the compliment:
- Awesome cheers
- Thank you, that’s really kind
- I know right!
- Hey if I wasn’t me, I’d do me
- You really are lovely, thanks!
- I worked really hard on this and I appreciate your lovely compliment
- I’ll take that
Give them out and learn to receive them. Teach your children that being complimentary to others begins by being complimentary to themselves first. Teach them it’s OK to say thank you. And not to start a thank you with a “sorry”
You’re all beautiful, you’re all unique. And you’re all allowed to be perfectly aware of it.