Girls, stop with the slagging off and badmouthing! Try giving a genuine compliment for a change and see what happens …

 

By about now, all inherently doomed New Year’s resolutions have run their course — from planning to admitted failure — and guilt is peeking around the corner again. This article might inspire the reader towards a belated resolution that will pay off slightly more — undoubtedly more than that gym membership or all the vegetables rotting in the fridge. As of 2016, I decided to consistently pursue something that has been on my agenda for quite some time: complementing fellow females more.

Firstly, a little necessary clarification; I am not endorsing the proliferation of the kind of compliments familiar to most girls, which throughout high school probably had a secure place in our trusted toolset for skilful social manoeuvring. Providing a classic example, here is the genre’s perhaps most iconic proponent, Regina George (if you haven’t seen Mean Girls, there is your other posterior New Year’s Resolution): ‘I love that skirt, where did you get it?’

Needless to say, compliments like these have selfish motivations behind them. Ironically, their recipient is usually well aware of that too, which is how ultimately complimenting gets reduced to a superficial, merely formal act of meaningless verbal exchanges; something similar to the Anglo-American use of ‘how are you’: people mechanically throw it at each other without really meaning anything by it or giving it serious consideration.

Instead, I’m arguing that the female community should reform compliments into a selfless, genuine means of empowerment and support — and should start actively using them!

The inspiration was actually conceived at the same time I first consciously paid a genuine compliment to a girl. We weren’t close friends and only engaged in occasional small talk, however, something that I always subconsciously registered about her (in a non-sexual way) was her effortless womanly, ‘sexy’ aura. As this kept occurring to me, the thought nestled itself into my mind. I had always noticed similarly positive and unique features in the looks or personalities of girls, features they are probably oblivious to. Except I had never put further thought into these musings. And so, deciding to experiment a little, I eventually shared my observations with none other than their subject: I told this girl that I noticed how she radiated a kind of natural femininity and sex appeal that I was sure most men find very attractive. I don’t quite recall her reaction, but I’m fairly certain the remark was settled with an awkward laugh and a topic change.

A few months later, when I met the same girl again at a party, she told me how grateful she was for what I had said to her back then — it had stuck with her ever since and made her confidence and self-image go through an enormous positive shift. Hearing this from her and knowing that I made another woman feel better about herself, helping her to realize her value; to this day feeds my passion and persistence towards this project.

Women’s perception of themselves can be so volatile, fragile and so easily manipulated. Sometimes we have a completely distorted view of ourselves, simply because we don’t receive enough positive or receive too much negative external feedback. This self-devaluation is not to be underrated — it leads to a lowering of our expectations, to feeling like we deserve less, to settling for the minimum or tolerating even worse than that. And yes, ultimately, reassurance should come from within. But then again, getting there doesn’t happen overnight. We are all in this together, and one honest compliment has the equal potential to make a positive change … so I ask, why not help each other out a little bit more?

A common pathogen in female relations is rivalry, and this is definitely a major obstacle. I’m willing to make the (debatable) assumption that the more beautiful a woman is, the less she gets complemented by other women, because beauty is de facto identified with the awareness of it. Jealousy and pride tend to prevent complimentary words from slipping off the female tongue as easily, even though beautiful women might be equally or even more in need of them. True, they might get more male attention, yet considering the obvious perpetual presence of underlying sexual motivations, this is not always persuasive or desirable. If I’m honest, I too notice myself being more (unjustly) critical towards more beautiful women. The first step is to be aware of this mistake, and then to consciously work on it — ideally, in a collective way.

Herewith, let me slip into the role of the romantic idealist, as one must sometimes: imagine if from 2016 onwards, all women started complementing each other on things they genuinely found beautiful, be it on the inside or the outside! Imagine if we could overcome envy and competition and started mutually supporting each other! Imagine what the global female community would look like then; imagine the consequences of such a massive positive shift on the confidence, self-respect and self-perception of women!

What I see is worth at least the consideration of an attempt at a second New Year’s Resolution.