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OK here’s the story behind this picture. I was at the opening of some uber trendy boutique in Georgetown, which has since closed and been replaced many times, with an uber-trendy friend of mine. I wore a silver metallic pleated H&M mini skirt that no longer fits past my hips, a wide bebe belt that Tim Gunn once touched, and a Club Monaco sheer top that I haven’t been able to find in months.

The year was 2005. I was 25, svelte and very on the scene in those days. Anyway, I thought I looked cute. Nay, I knew I looked cute.

So when a very sweet woman, who was swathed in the boxy suit and chunky heels they hand out on the Hill, tapped me on the shoulder to say I, indeed, looked cute I said the first thing that came to mind, “Thanks so much!”

I then turned back around and continued to peruse to over-priced fashion fare. The guy I was with, the uber-trendy friend, was scandalized.

“That was so rude,” he whispered as we pet the mohair sweater laid out in front of us.

“What was?” I asked.

“Just now. You didn’t say anything back to that lady. You were just like, ‘Oh thanks.’ You’re such a diva!”

Huh? She gave me a compliment. I accepted. Then the world continued to turn, turn, turn. What was the big deal?

Apparently, and I’ve seen this in action mulitple times since the H&M miniskirt scenario, when a woman gives another woman a compliment the only socially acceptable response is reciprocal in nature. I never do this. And allegedly instead of making me sincere and not one of those fake sopranos that chime in whenever someone says something nice, this makes me a jerk.

I’d planned on writing about this weird lady dynamic a while ago but thought better of if, “Eh, maybe it’s just me?” and “Do I really want everyone to know what a obviously narcissistic ass I am.” But when I saw this sketch from “Inside Amy Schumer,” I knew I wasn’t alone.

In the sketch Amy and a group of her cohorts run into each other on the street and offer up increasingly wild compliments while rejecting each one directed their way. In an example of girl-centric comedy that is indeed relatable and, in fact, funny, none of the girls can take flattery, dumping on themselves while praising others. Finally when one girl says, “Thank you” instead of “Fuck you” the other ladies go ape shit, unable to live in a world where a woman can actually take a compliment as it was intended.

Just today as I was walking to my secret writing bat cave I overheard this all too familiar call and response as a group of young ladies were gathering to go to lunch.

“Oh my god! Look how cute you look!”

“No! Look how cute YOU look.”

I mean I get it. I guess. When someone makes you feel good, you want to make them feel good right back. But why is it always the go-to for girls? I’m pretty sure when a dude tells another dude, “Hey, nice jump shot” (or whatever) that the other guy can say, “Thanks man” without feeling like a dick. But when it comes to women the rule seems to be “Thou shalt compliment back or be branded a bitch.”

None of this is to say I don’t give compliments to other women. I LOVE giving compliments to other women. No matter where we are, if I see you looking like a damn champion, I will let you know. But I don’t expect you to say anything besides, “Thank you” because honestly that’s more than enough to make my day along with yours.

 

XOJane

This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more Helena on XOJane!

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24 Comments

  1. Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    Mostly I will say thanks but I may in fact compliment in return if it is warranted.
    It’s not a big deal or a stretch or a lie when I do compliment in return and its no big deal when I don’t..

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  2. Caitlin

    I think those people that expect a compliment back are the real jerks. When I give people compliments it’s because I truly think they look cute, or trendy or whatever, not because I’m looking for reassurance. It feels good when I get compliments too but only when I can tell it is genuine and not of the forced or obligated nature. Those actually make me feel worse. So you are not alone, I never compliment back either. :)

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  3. That’s not rude at all! I always say thank you, and only give a compliment back when I really mean it.

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  4. It only would’ve been rude if you didn’t say thank you

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  5. I’ll give a compliment back if I really mean it but otherwise I say thank you and keep it moving. I was taught not to lie lol

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