I was weirdly offended by this Buzzfeed post this morning. For those of you too lazy to follow the link, it’s basically about how men have no right to ever call you pretty and you should shoot them in the face if they dare to approach you.
Okay, it’s a little more in depth than that (although one comic does show a woman shooting a guy’s head off, which, if the roles were reversed, would cause a screaming uproar. But the gist of it is that no one, not even the president, is allowed to compliment you on your looks.
This is the kind of thing I’d expect from Jezebel.com, in between them praising Cat Marnell as a beacon of feminism and gossiping about Kim Kardashian as a giant slut.
Here’s the thing. Strangers can’t see your brain. They can’t read your thesis or see that math problem you’re working in, You obviously put work into your awesome outfit, and it’s pleasing people, which is nice, because that means you’re a work of art. People compliment things they enjoy. They say, “Hey, that was a good movie,” or “hey, I really liked that song,” or “Hey, that meal was delicious.”
So if someone says, “You look pretty,” how about saying, “Hey, thanks,” and moving on with your daily life?
I had a guy once tell me I looked like I stepped out of a movie because I did. I’d put a lot of effort into my outfit, this rad vintage dress and little red socks and a headband. I was glad someone noticed. I thought it was sweet and told him so. Then I went to my bus seat and put in my headphones. That was the end of it. I didn’t owe him a conversation, so I didn’t give him one and he didn’t pursue it further. But I also didn’t make a federal case out of it because it wasn’t worth the aggravation. I like being told I’m pretty, because I know the people who know I’m smart will tell me so. (Also, I don’t need anyone else’s validation.)
I’m not saying you should respond sweetly to every scumbag who tells you he’d fuck you (because seriously, that’s rude), but how much damage does it do if some guy passing says, “Hey, you look nice today.” Would it kill you, would you actually wither up and die if you said, “Thank you” and kept walking? My guess is no.
(The “smile, beautiful” thing does warrant a punch in the face, though, because that’s invasive. That’s a command, not a compliment.)
You don’t owe anybody a date. You don’t owe anybody a conversation. But here’s a hint, girls. Not everyone in the world wants to bone you. Sometimes, a compliment is just a compliment, meant to bring a little sunshine into a day packed with work and obligations. And if you don’t want to take a compliment, don’t, but then don’t sit there and complain that everyone is a jerk and no one is polite anymore. Maybe, just maybe, a more polite world starts with you. You don’t have to blow every guy who compliments you. You don’t owe harassers a smile. But try saying “thanks,” once in awhile. You might find your world is a little friendlier and maybe you’ll realize that the whole world isn’t out to sexually harass you.
And hey, would it kill you to compliment someone else? Tell a stranger you like their shoes or their bag or their kicky fedora. Just kidding, no one likes fedoras.