Why "You Look Great" Isn’t Necessarily a Compliment


WHILE THREE LITTLE WORDS can be the best sentence you can ever hear in your life (depending on what you consider important, of course), there is another three-little-word sentence that makes me cringe: “You look great!” Now, I know this is a compliment and I’m not one of those girls that doesn’t know how to take a compliment. Of all the complimentary phrases that exist, this one always annoys the hell out of me and here’s why:

1) It implies that you didn’t look great before, especially if you haven’t seen the “compliment-payer” in a long time. Whenever someone tells me I look great, I always wonder what they think I looked like before. Did you think I was overweight? Think I needed to tone up? I’m so glad you were secretly judging me and thought that I could look better, and I’m positively ecstatic that my physical appearance pleases your aesthetic sensibilities.

2) If the person is male it implies that now he’s paying attention to me physically. Now that you think I have abs like Britney Spears circa 2000, I’m suddenly more attractive to you as a friend or potential romantic love interest? The comment makes me feel like prior to this iteration of my appearance, they wouldn’t have touched me with a ten-foot pole, but now all bets are off. And if a woman says it, more often than not, I get the sense that she’s being passive-aggressive, AKA she’s thinking “You weren’t competition before, but now you are.”

3) Now you have a new standard for your physique that you’ll feel pressured to maintain. Okay, so now I look “great,” but if I gain a few pounds and go back to the way I looked before, I won’t? Thanks a lot, because now I’m going to be counting every calorie I eat and making sure I up my workout regimen, because since I look great now I don’t want to go back to not looking great.

I propose a new rule: unless it’s a wedding or prom or some other event where someone is dressing up on purpose, telling someone they look great should be a social no-no, like asking a woman you don’t know when she’s due. It very may well be a genuine compliment coming from the person paying it, but to the person receiving the compliment, it can make them feel insecure. And no one should be made to feel like that, especially if they have been hitting the gym and eating healthier to try to lose a few extra pounds. Maybe I’m wrong, and most women enjoy those little moments of positive reinforcement, but I smile on the outside and cringe on the inside any time the words “look” and “great” are strung together in a sentence and directed my way. Call me crazy, but I’d rather you leave it unsaid and just ask to go to the gym with me the next time I go instead.

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