Compliments can be tricky business, even though by definition the whole point of them is to make another human feel good. Despite your noble intentions, it can be hard to figure out how to give a good compliment. The fact of the matter is that not every compliment is a good one. Personally, I think we could all do better at being more mindful at how we talk about other people in general. Between all the backhanded compliments, sexist compliments, racist comments, definitely anti body positivity compliments, and street harassment disguised as compliments in existence, it seems like the time to talk about why seemingly innocent remarks can sometimes be received less than warmly.
I'll never forget when my mom told me that my haircut made me look like a certain singer. I was feeling so fresh, so modern, and super babely with my new do, and the celeb she compared me to was not my idea of stylish. Although she meant well — and really does love that singer's hair — it made me feel kind of crummy and not confident in the way I looked. Being super sensitive about being a fat girl with a shorter haircut and not being my most confident self at that time, it just hit a tender little spot. We laughed about it later, but it totally deflated my new haircut high in the moment.
It might sound silly, but we really can't ever know what's going on with someone or what connotations certain words and expressions have for them. If we're truly trying to make someone feel good about themselves, we should want to do everything within our power to ensure that happens.
Compliments based on appearance often seem like a gray area, but the key is sticking to things that are within the person's control and that appeal to their creativity or skills. Simple and generic is also good! When was the last time someone got mad because you simply told them they look great? When you choose to give kudos to someone's skillful makeup application or the way they put their outfit together, it's way better than complimenting their "huge cans" or "teeny tiny waist." I mean, yes, my boobs are amazing — but I had nothing to do with that. My vision in putting that skirt with that jacket? All me. Here are nine killer compliments that are bound to make anyone feel good.
1. "Whoa, your outfit is so amazing!"
It's a simple, classic, and golden approach that will appeal to any sartorially-minded friend.
2. "I love your sense of style."
This not only shows that you like the duds your complimentee is sporting right now, but that you've been noticing and appreciating their style for a while.
3. "I'm so into the way you did your hair! Could you teach me sometime?"
What's better than just being told your hair looks nice? Knowing that your pal digs the look so much that they want to wear it on their own head.
4. "Well, don't you have a spring in your step today?!"
When we're feeling good about ourselves, it tends to show in our body language. If you notice your friend has a little pep in their step, an extra compliment will probably reaffirm those good feels.
5. "Your (insert makeup look here) is so perfect. You've got skills!"
A good face of makeup is usually about more than just "looking nice." It's often the result of a good chunk of money sacrificed to Sephora, ages of practice, and some kind of self-empowerment. Give the person their dues!
6. "You always look so cute whenever I see you!"
I think we've all woken up on the wrong side of the bed and taken "you look great today" to mean: "Hey, you don't look as shitty as you usually do: Congrats!" Letting someone know they're consistently looking excellent is hardly ever a negative thing.
7. "Seriously, your skin has the best glow."
A lovely glow is rarely just about a good highlighter and moisturizer combo (although it definitely can be about those things). Complimenting someone's "glow" is like a way of saying, "I see your beauty and also how good you're feeling about life." Aww!
8. "You look so happy!"
Whether their life is truly #blessed at the moment or they just look like it is, this is always a nice thing to hear.
9. "Uh, that nail art is so incredible."
Whether it's a DIY from YouTube they totally nailed or just something they pulled from Pinterest that shows their impeccable taste, noticing those little details shows you care.
These are just a few of the day-brightening comments that you can give to the people you know and love that will hopefully make them feel good about their bodies and appearances (as opposed to a glued-down wisp of Donald Trump's hair). Some people might advise you give the kind of compliments you'd like to receive, but I say that we should all give the kind of comments we think the recipient would like to receive.
Images: Jodie Layne