Just to follow up on my hypothetical question post from last month. In 2009, when I first wrote that post (and this one), I had seen a post on another blog that seemed to say that if a man compliments a woman whom he doesn’t know, he may mean well, but he is really (a) saying that a woman’s only value is her appearance, and (b) reinforcing the patriarchy. I wanted to know how others felt about compliments.
The book Notes from the Fat-O-Sphere by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby has some good advice about compliments. First, learn to take compliments from your friends. Second, a stranger’s opinion doesn’t mean much. Extending these ideas, I think that we all should try to take compliments from strangers gracefully as well, even if we don’t ascribe too much meaning to them. And I don’t think any compliments are bad if they’re sincere and given without expectation.
I got some well-reasoned responses to last month’s post; thanks to all who commented. Here are some follow-on ideas:
1. How does the gender of the person complimenting you influence your response?
2. Are there any men reading this who want to chime in? (I can’t always tell gender from a comment but I think most of the responders were women.)
3. What about compliments from friends? Are they more meaningful than those from strangers, or less so?