I met someone recently, and after a first glance, I heard myself saying, “You have a very pretty face.” However, before the words exited my lips, I mentally corrected myself and simply said, “You are very beautiful!” The first statement, even though it is a compliment, has a negative connotation associated with it. It says that even though I see your pretty face, I can’t help but notice how overweight you are. The latter statement says, ‘even though you may not be comfortable with your weight right now, I still think you are beautiful!’
Think about it for a minute. If you were the recipient of the compliment given, which would you rather? Obviously, you would prefer the latter. We all want to feel accepted and beautiful; it’s a human trait. So, to make someone feel inadequate or ugly because they may be overweight is unnecessarily cruel. There are many reasons why giving a compliment like, ‘you have a pretty face’ is wrong; however, I’ll just explore two of those reasons:
- It’s rude! There are just some socially unacceptable behaviors and this is one of them. Chances are the person you are speaking to, is well aware of her weight issue. Therefore, she doesn’t need the added embarrassment and pressure coming from you. It’s almost like asking someone if they’re pregnant, when in fact they are not!
- It’s counter productive. In other words, it defeats the purpose. Maybe your objective is to encourage the person to lose weight, but as stated before, she is quite aware of her weight already. Pointing this out to her may simply push her further down the path of depression and self-loathing. Many people practice emotional eating, meaning that, they turn to food when they are under emotional stress. Obviously, your comment will have the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve; instead of trying to reduce portions, they begin to intoxicate and medicate themselves with food.
You may be wondering why am I writing about this? I am passionate about this because I remember hearing, ‘you have a pretty face’ many years ago. I also remember all too well the sting of humiliation after hearing it. And, when I almost did it to someone else, I realized sometimes it’s not done because of meanness or facetiousness, but a simple slip of the tongue. So, when giving a compliment in regards to someone’s physical appearance, say, “ you’re very beautiful” period! Nothing more.