Non-appearance-related compliments

Our culture focuses so much on appearance that it can seem like a fact of life. For some decades now, thinness has been considered the ideal for how people should look. Lighter skin tones are still quite honestly considered a basic standard, but not skin that’s very pale: a nice “healthy” tan is desirable. Clear skin is best. Straight hair is currently “in.”

We focus so much on appearance that it can be difficult even to give someone a compliment that’s not looks-based. Take a look at your social media feed and you’ll see what I mean. Anytime someone posts a new selfie or changes their profile picture, there’s a barrage of comments all saying “you look great!” “beautiful!” “haven’t changed a bit!” That’s so common, in fact, that Facebook makes “beautiful” and “gorgeous” automatic reactions on stories. You don’t even have to type it! Just click on the words to react.

But doesn’t the ubiquity of those words ever make you want something different? Do they ever feel a little insincere? Do you want to stand out from the crowd by receiving or giving a compliment/reaction that isn’t the same as usual or that at the very least captures more of who you or someone else is than how your/their face or body looks?

It’s time to up the compliment game. First, challenge yourself to stop commenting on others’ appearances, or at least to make it just a 1 in 10 occurrence. Second, dig deep. If you are reacting to someone’s photo on Facebook or Instagram, for example, you are likely friends. You know something about them and like them (if not, you may want to consider paring down your “friends” list). What are qualities you treasure? My friends are, among them, kind, strong, courageous, faithful, wise, well-read, knowledgeable, patient, generous, loving, outgoing, thoughtful, fun, hilarious, clever, persevering and talented. And that’s just a few of their admirable qualities. They’re great parents, hard workers, experienced in all kinds of work and non-work capacities, dedicated volunteers. In short, they’re people I adore.

I like to say these kinds of things:

  • “I love seeing that big, friendly grin.”
  • “You always do such fun activities with your kids.
  • “The way your eyes light up makes me smile.”
  • “Your style is always so fabulous and reflects you so well.”
  • “Seeing your face reminds me how good it feels to be around you.”
  • “Your goodness just radiates from your face.”
  • “I love the twinkles in your eyes.”
  • “You have such great taste in clothes.”
  • “I’m so blessed to know you.”
  • “Your smile is 100 watts of happiness.”
  • “I admire so much how caring you are.”
  • “I can see that fun mischievousness I like so much reflected in this photo.”

It’s even possible to compliment people you don’t know, out in the real world. You can compliment a harried mom in the supermarket on how kind and patient she is being with her toddler. You can tell someone their scarf is gorgeous or the color of their shirt is stunning. You can compliment a stranger on their smile.

Just think how much you can lift someone’s day by taking a minute (or a few) to figure out a different way of commenting besides saying how beautiful or gorgeous or thin or young they look. Pick a compliment with staying power: it sticks because it’s different, and it sticks because it reflects something about them that is more real and long-lasting than what’s on the surface. Go and have some fun crafting your own. (Or you can use some of my ideas; it’s OK.)

Share some of yours with me, too, if you like.

Embracing my body

My weight has been an issue for me for long enough that I’ve written here both about methods I was hoping to use to lose weight and about how to figure out how to do so while not focusing too much on how I looked.

If you haven’t started following Beauty Redefined, do it now.

But after a year of pandemic and all that’s entailed, and after years of following Beauty Redefined, then months of following some fabulous anti-diet nutritionists/dietitians I learned about thanks to BR, I am pulling my own plug on anything that looks like or sounds like a diet. No more counting anything, no more saving clothes I haven’t worn for years because they’re much too small, no more waiting on being thinner. I’ve already culled my wardrobe quite a bit and I’m going to do more. This week, I took the brave but own-it step of resizing a wedding band (up) so I can actually wear a ring on my left ring finger. It’s so exciting! My rings have been too small, and I was just waiting for a magical day when I could be smaller too. No more!

I admit I’m not yet in a neutral place (let alone happy) about being heavy, and I miss the days when I could easily buy clothes I felt good in (that’s not the fault of my BODY; it’s the fault of clothing manufacturers and stores!). But thanks to the accounts I’m following on Instagram, I daily see many positive messages and reminders that our society is not friendly to ALL sizes and shapes, even though HUMAN BEINGS just naturally come in all sizes and shapes (and colors!).

I’m working toward an understanding and practice of true intuitive eating and just taking good care of myself, including physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In times like these, that’s a huge challenge! (Which means that if a number of us have gained weight, for instance, we shouldn’t be shaming them. Everyone has been in survival mode for a stinkin’ YEAR!) My next step is to read the books about intuitive eating and apply all the guidelines so I can trust my body to do its work to nourish me. More to come.