Backhanded Compliments

backhanded-complimentLet me start by saying that I put a reasonable amount of effort into personal hygiene and wardrobe most of the time, and that I am pleased to receive compliments about my appearance. Also happy to be flattered about my parenting skills, my sense of humour, my professional accomplishments, or my baking (particularly the latter, since I work hard on the baking).

Friends, family, and casual acquaintances should feel free to pour accolades upon me anytime but PLEASE DO NOT include the following statements:

  1. You look great for your age. Thank you?  You look great for your height/weight/IQ.
  2. You look half your age. That would mean that I look 25 which might seem bizarre to my children, particularly the one who is nearing 20 herself. Also… I am well-aware that I DO NOT look 25 so this raises disconcerting questions about your integrity, your judgment, and/or your vision
  3. Wow! You certainly don’t look 50! If there is a compliment in here somewhere, it is completely eclipsed by the horrified emphasis placed on the word ‘50’, indicating that a burka will be required in order to go into public areas once I actually begin to “look 50”

I am a very confident woman. I know I look good. Damn it… I should look good… I spend hours at yoga, walk the dog for miles almost every day, eat right (most of the time) and get enough sleep. If I looked bad I would head straight to the family doctor and demand some blood work and an MRI!

I look like a healthy, happy 50 year old woman and that is great. I do not need, or want, to look younger. I love the wrinkles on my 50 year old face because they show that I think deep thoughts and I laugh often.

When I step out of the shower and see my boobs in the mirror, I do not lament that they are no longer my 25-year-old boobs. Instead, I smile because they are still there (lots of my friends have sacrificed them to cancer already – and these women are also beautiful!). As I stand naked in the bathroom, I silently thank my boobs for being such amazing body parts; for keeping three babies alive and nourished, and for allowing an exhausted mother the ease of just popping them on a boob and falling back to sleep in the middle of the night.

I am okay with the few extra pounds that have settled here and there (except for the muffin top because that is more wine-related than age-related and I really must get rid of it). And I think of my graying hair as Mother Nature’s way of encouraging me to pamper myself because, since gray is not my thing, I now go to the hairdresser every few weeks for colour. I have started playing with highlights and trying out some new hairstyles, which is fun. And I have even begun to venture to the ‘spa’ side of the salon, where I can have a pedicure while sipping herbal tea in a massage chair.

May I suggest that those who wish to pass a compliment my way make reference to my hair, which I think looks very nice lately, or perhaps my awesome, hot-pink toes. But please, do not add the caveat that my hair, my toes, or any of my other outside parts are looking great “for my age”!

Author: Kim Scaravelli

Kim Scaravelli is an entrepreneur, marketer, content consultant, and author of “Making Words Work”. The best way to keep in touch is to subscribe to Kim’s popular newsletter. Every second Wednesday, she shares practical writing tips, timely insights, and resources to make your work easier and your content better. To learn more about Kim, visit her website.

7 thoughts

  1. May I add my personal favorite — “You look MUCH better than when I last saw you.” (This, from my dentist, if you please and he wasn’t referring to my teeth.) How bad did I look when he last saw me? Was I yellow? Green? Did I look near death (well, I was, but I didn’t know it). I have not been able to get a straight answer to this question. My husband is too smart to venture into these waters and merely says “You were a bit pale,” which is an evasion of the first order. Add also “You look GREAT considering what you’ve been through.” What the does THAT mean? I look horrible but compared to how disgusting I could look, you don’t feel like throwing up in my presence?


    1. My friend tells me that her favourite is “You look great… have you lost weight?” Seriously… how backhanded is that one?!?


  2. Goodness, that was very good writing, for someone your age. Just joking. I was knocked over by an eighteen year-old who introduced me to her boyfriend, saying that I was “one f her best childhood memories”. I almost pulled my skirt up to check for thermal underwear and support stockings…


Can't wait to hear what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s