Monday, March 19, 2012

On accepting compliments

I'm terrible at accepting compliments. I most often deflect and say something like, "Ohmygosh, are you crazy? YOU are gorgeous!" Or flat out deny it like, "No. Trust me, I'm really not that [insert their compliment here]." And every time, I'm so taken aback by my utter lack of grace in accepting a compliment. I googled it once- "accepting compliments." I was so uncomfortable with even reading about accepting compliments I faked skimming the page before deciding to accept my awkwardness. But why! Why am I so awkward about it? It's not just me right? What is it about a compliment that puts people (especially girls, in fact, I'm mostly speaking about girls here) on edge? 

Is it so crazy that we're pretty? Or skinny? Or have such a pretty smile?  I think we think it is. 

Co-worker 1 & me: You are so skinny!
Co-worker 2: NO I'M NOT. It's just my legs! The rest of me isn't skinny. Stop it.
Co-worker 1& me: *eye roll*

I feel like any girl reading this can totally relate, either because she has heard it before or has said it herself. It wasn't just that she didn't think she was skinny, it was the precision with which she knew the limitations of her skinniness. Enough so to defend against the whole compliment.

I get it though, I really do. I walk the streets of NYC and see legions of gorgeous, skinny, perfectly dressed women. Women in heels with designer bags and bone structure that's intimidating. I also see these girls at parties I go to whose names I now know. And sometimes in addition to being gorgeous and skinny, they're really nice and then I have no reason to hate them. (Ugh.) What I'm trying to say is that maybe it's this constant ritual of comparison we women partake in that is stifling our ability to believe that these nice things people say to us about being beautiful aren't true, that they can't be true, because it's trueER about someone else. I read a Post Secret once that has stuck with me ever since. It was a boy holding up a note that said, "just because she's beautiful doesn't mean you're ugly." That's so, so true.

I realize I've mostly been talking about compliments pertaining to physical beauty here but that's because I've never once heard a girl protest to being funny or smart or clever. Why is that? I guess we are more comfortable accepting compliments about our brains than our bodies. Then again, why wouldn't we be? The models in the magazines aren't glamorized for their knowledge of current events. The media doesn't care to set standards for female intelligence, but they do want to make sure we know how big our busts should be and how small our waists should be.

So, I guess the next time someone pays me a compliment, I won't fight them on it. Because I don't have to be the prettiest girl in the world to be pretty. I don't have to be the "est" anything. Next time, I'll just say "thank you," because that is an appropriate response to their kind words and because that poor, unsuspecting person doesn't deserve the tail end of my awkwardness. 

I'm super curious to know if any of you reading this agree with my sentiments. Are you awkward when you receive compliments? If so, why do you think that is? Do tell!

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