I Don’t Know What to Say When You Say I’m Pretty
What’s the proper response to a compliment?
I have a confession. I’m not the best at receiving compliments. In fact, I was once terrible at doing so. I would deflect and find a way to inform the compliment-giver why they had no business complimenting me. Compliment my dress. This old thing? It wasn’t even my first choice and it was available in a better color. Tell me my skin looks great. Nah, I was just looking at it in the mirror and I can see that it’s so oily and shiny and I can see my pores. I felt awkward and feeling awkward only made me want to move away from the uncomfortableness of it all.
With time I’ve learned that my inability to receive a compliment stemmed from feeling unworthy, which is a symptom of a greater issue — low self-esteem. I’m a former over-giver so it was always much easier for me to compliment others and feel they deserved to be complimented than to realize the same was true for me. I have improved and I’m really proud of myself. However, there is still one area where I struggle and that is compliments regarding my physical looks. And this extends even toward my daughter. I’m okay when others tell her she’s pretty. But it gets weird for me when people tell me she’s pretty.
You’re so pretty.
OMG! Your daughter is so cute.
You’re both so beautiful.
It doesn’t matter whether the compliment is for me or for my daughter, the reaction from me is the same. And unlike the other areas of my life, it’s not about feeling unworthy. I struggle because neither I, nor my daughter have much control over the way we look. Sure, we can exercise to tone and look fit. We can groom ourselves and dress ourselves well, but all of that is the equivalent to putting a curtain on a window. The window is still going to be the same window. The curtain is just the adornment to enhance what’s there. Neither my daughter, nor I, had any control over the symmetry of our faces or the shape of our noses or how close our eyes were to one another. We didn’t get a say in how tall we would be or our skin color or complexions. I had sex with her father, as did my mother with my father, and biology did its thing. The combination of genes just happened to occur as they did. So if someone finds us…