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 lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, with her long-suffering husband, an assortment of off-spring, a charming cat named Winnie, and a less charming (but oddly loveable) schnauzer named Buster.

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?

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

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  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…

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