Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Saying, "You Look Amazing".

My sister-in-law has always been beautiful. Both inside and out. She's got a beautiful skin tone that speaks of ancestors not as pasty as my own. When I first met her, shortly after I started dating the Marine, I thought she would have fit in as some type of Eskimo Princess (forget for a moment I have no idea about Eskimos or whether they have Princesses). She's got long black hair that is so thick and shiny it would make Barbie jealous. I know at times it makes me jealous, and I'm a redhead. 

She's also one of the nicest people I know. She volunteers to help others, spends quality  time building relationships with her children, and looking for ways to influence others in positive ways.

Not too long ago she started working out. Zumba, Pilates, Turbo Kick, hitting the YMCA etc. She's still gorgeous,  but now she's gorgeous and missing a hundred pounds. Of course, I told her she looks amazing, because, HELLO, she does! She responded, "I've always looked amazing, but I know what you mean. Thanks."

I internally cringed when I read that. Some how, I think, I'd managed to step into the metaphoric crap. 

In a society so consumed by physical appearance, how is a person supposed to congratulate someone on an amazing accomplishment like losing a hundred pounds, without sounding like it's a backhanded compliment? 

By saying I thought she looked amazing, did it sound like I didn't think she did before? That I had thought she needed to change her appearance? 

Looks shouldn't be everything. Being skinny, with nice skin doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be a beautiful person. In fact, I've known plenty of people who would be considered beautiful, because of their outward appearance. 

They were some of the ugliest people I've ever known. 

Inside where true beauty really is, they were empty. There was no love, or caring--just selfishness and hate. 

It sucks to feel like giving a compliment will be in poor taste, but wouldn't it be worse to ignore the hard work someone has put in? I know she's proud of her accomplishments, and she should be. I also know her main focus wasn't getting skinny for skinny's sake, but for getting more active and healthy both inside and out. 

The same reasons I workout several times a week, don't eat fried foods, drink tons of water, and keep positive thoughts at the forefront of everything I do. 

What are your experiences with saying 'You look amazing' or something similar? Did the person take it as the compliment it was intended as, or did they take it as something worse? I'd love to hear about it.

Remember, as long as you're healthy, happy and caring, your true beauty is already apparent to the world. The outside is just wrapping.



  1. For the sake of thinking she's a better person I'm going to assume this was via text or some other method which doesn't necessarily convey emotion well and she didn't mean it the way it sounded.  However, if I put that assumption aside, I think she was the one being rude here, not you. What is it with people refusing to take a compliment? Is it that hard to just accept the fact that someone appreciates you or something you did and say thank you? Don't go into excuses or explanations. A heartfelt thank you is really all that was necessary.  

    If she's always had such high self-esteem good for her, but why should you feel like you stepped in crap? Not all of us are so lucky. Whether skinny or fat, tall or short, smart or average, the majority of us struggle with loving ourselves for who we are.

  2. I get it too. I work out, toned down, but lost no weight. So people are like, "you look amazing!" and I'm like, "yeah I still weight 165lbs." and then they're like, "No way you look 135lbs!" and I'm like, "it's all muscle . . . " so I dunno, the convo goes downhill usually and I don't know how to battle that. I'm glad your sister in law took is so well. 

  3. I'm with kksierra here. Anyone who responds by saying they've always looked amazing is more certainly lacking in tact and humility, vital ingredients of inner beauty. I know that what passes for vociferous self-confidence in the US is considered arrogance here in the UK, so there is a cultural difference to take into account, but this was an ungracious response and you are not the one who should e feeling bad about this, she is!

  4. I understand being on the receiving end of what can feel like a backhanded compliment...I always had dead straight, dark brown hair (to me, boring), but as my mum's a hairdresser, we decided to dye my hair bright red one day (before Rihanna, i promise!)...and since then, I've gotten so much more attention (in lots of ways, but mostly from boys)...and the ones that knew me before, have actually said "when did you get SO hot?" meaning it as a compliment, and I just found it really insulting!

    I can also see where you were coming from though, you want to acknowledge the change because it would feel rude to wouldnt it?! I've found that if people do it for the compliments, then they'll bring it up themselves and pause for your kind words...the ones who don't need the compliments dont bother...or you can wait til it's their birthday and they're all dressed up :)

  5. While I can see how some might take her reply as rude, I think perhaps she was trying to convey she didn't lose the weight because she felt she had to for superficial reasons. That being said, I don't see where you said anything backhanded at all. Most people know that when someone gives a compliment, it's meant with good intentions and should be accepted that way. In the end, she did know that.

    Sometimes, the situation can be mostly glossed over by affirming the change itself. 

    "Red hair looks great on you. Not everyone can pull it off."

    "Wow, you've been so dedicated to your workout."

    I wouldn't worry about it too much. Most people make a change because they feel it's an improvement from the previous state. Acknowledging their choice is rarely an insult.