In her article entitled, “Why I’m not ‘pretty for a black girl,’” Edna Batengas urged others to avoid mentioning one’s race when giving a compliment. She briefly mentioned that she would much rather receive a compliment on something that isn’t based on her appearance at all. I agree with her entirely. I would rather be complimented for who I am rather than what I am.
In fact, I hate to be cliché, but it really is the inside that counts. In our day and age though, it seems that this has been forgotten. Simply take a look at the comments posted underneath selfies on Instagram and Facebook. We live in an extremely superficial society.
It’s rare to see someone appreciating another’s character or life successes. When such comments are given, they are almost always disregarded or lost in a sea of shallow remarks. Take, for example, an Instagram post of the attractive Mikhail Varshavski, who is better known as Dr. Mike. The post is meant to celebrate his achievement upon finishing his internship, and while a couple of comments actually celebrate his accomplishment, essentially every other is as meaningless as “Ugh his hair looks great here.”
Why do we praise others’ looks so much? I’ll skip the whole philosophical discussion on mind versus body, but I ultimately think that what makes you or me is so much more than our bodies. We should celebrate us, not just our figures.
I feel that in the height of social media, people are constantly fishing for compliments by posting selfies or photos of meaningless things. How can people really get to know you when your social media posts are all of your face and body? Showcase your thoughts, your art, your talents — give people the chance to get to know your inner beauty, your inner being.
It’s so much nicer to be complimented on some characteristic, such as one’s kind nature, rather than on one’s physique. One feeds the soul while the other fuels your ego.
The compliments that I’ve received that had nothing to do with my appearance are the compliments that truly stick with me. Some of the most flattering remarks that I’ve received had to do with my skills, work ethic, and my sense of humour. While being complimented on something physical can be nice, it can be easily forgotten.
All that said, perhaps people stray away from commenting on something other than one’s looks because it’s not that common. Think about it: aren’t you a bit thrown off when someone gives you an insightful compliment? I think that our culture has become so accustomed to giving and receiving superficial compliments that it’s viewed as weird to comment on anything other than one’s outer beauty.
I’d love to challenge people to really think before they speak. Think about the individuals in your lives and what makes them great. Yes, the “inner them.” Dig deep and ask yourself, “What do I really like about this person?”
To quote one of my favourite television characters of all time: “Oh, screw beautiful. I’m brilliant. If you want to appease me, compliment my brain.”
Preach, Cristina Yang.