We’re all guilty of ‘em, the compliment that has a side of snark, jealousy all joined by their friend, insecurity. Say “hi” to insecurity (hiiii insecurity). Backhanded compliments are also known as not compliments, or uncomplementing compliments and can be word vomit that spews everywhere, either intentionally or not, to bring someone down (again intentionally or not) and typically they’re focused around how someone looks or acts, compared to societal norms.
1. The “Just Kidding”
You met who you think is your Prince Charming at the grocery store (obviously) you had a debate in the pickle aisle in which case, bread and butter pickles are always better. But you exchange numbers and agree to go out for coffee the next morning before work. Waking up extra early to shower, style your hair and wiggle your way into your chartreuse pencil skirt, you know the one that hasn’t had a night in the town…err morning coffee appearance since college business class presentations. “What do you think about this outfit?” you ask your roommate who’s standing in the kitchen slathering butter on her burnt toast, “You’re going out like that?…just kidding…you look great!” Cue downtrodden gaze and an immediate scamper up the stairs for another look in the full length mirror, then back to the closet, then back to your reflection.
“Just Kidding” is really just code for the first statement your roommate said, she meant it, but since she’s your roommate and friend, and friends are supposed to be supportive. So, to avoid soiling your feelings and confidence she just tied up her truth with a neat “just kidding” bow. Friends don’t let friends get upset. But friends also don’t let friends go out in public wearing this either. So let’s just all be honest as Abe (which we heard is pretty gosh darn honest).
2. “You have lost a lot of weight!”
About a year ago, you decide to decide to make a change in your life that revolved around nutrition and making
Jim the gym your new religion. You practiced everyday multiple hours of the day, sweating so much that you thought about bottling it up and selling it, except no one wants your salty sweat juice. You’ve given up milk because squats are the only thing doing this body good and you’re pretty sure you’ve become a rabbit because of the amount of greens you’ve been ingesting. Thank goodness no cottontail has sprouted…yet. Then feeling all sassypants(less) you sport that new black dress and heels (to obvs show off your calf muscles) for a fun night on the town with some old college friends who you haven’t seen in months. “You have lost a lot of weight” comes out of Barbara. “Nope, Babs, I haven’t noticed.”
3. “You look really skinny today!”
You get out of the car at your family reunion when your sweet Nana looks you over, as she does, and says, “Sweetie, you look really skinny today,” you look at her and want to rebuke, “if I’m skinny today, does that mean that yesterday I wasn’t?” but you quickly pump the “oh no you didn’t just” breaks and realize since she’s lived to be 90 that she gets a free pass to, without consequences, say and do anything she wants. Ah, the Circle of Life (and it moves us all). Sure you have “skinny” days when you stand a bit taller, clothes feel better and your mood is just on the uppity up! And then there are the blech, bloated days when you admittedly feel like sitting on the couch sans pants watching 10 Things I Hate About You and 27 Dresses back-to-back with a bucket full of dark chocolate drops (which you eat every.single.one), because popcorn just won’t do! So instead of offering Nana a sarcastic comeback that your mother would no doubt hear from across the room and would say your name in that motherly tone of disappointment and warning, you crack a half smile before eying the onion dip that’s got your name written alllll over it. See ya Nan.
4. “I could never wear that.”
For brunch you decide to throw on your never-worn faux fur vest with your dapper fedora hat with sequin trim because it’s Sunday and you’re feeling fancy. And day sequins are always appropriate. Until, dun dun dun “I could never wear that” comes from a lady friend across the table slowly chewing on the end of her beverage straw. “You sure can! It was only $19.99 at Khol’s and with your Khol’s cash its even less! Who doesn’t love a bargain?,” you respond, knowing that she didn’t mean the price. You continue with your budda-like explanation that fashion is subjective and you can and should wear whatever makes you feel happy, confident and you!
5. “You’re so lucky you get to live with your parents.”
Sure you’re financially fortunate that your parents, upon returning from college, didn’t demand giving you the heave ho’ up outta their humble abode. However, you’re smart because you have a truckload savings and you’ve been able to travel a bit too. Magellan would be proud and so would those extreme couponers. But being in the suburbs when the majority of friends are in the city, you’re social life and dating life have received a firm junk punch, and no hill of money can make up for those missed relationships. So yup, you’re unfortunately fortunate.
6. “You’ll fit in well there.”
You just got a new gig at the top PR agency in the industry and you’re walking confidently (as you usually do) down the hallway to hand in your two-weeks notice. Now, there’s been some buzz circulating the watercooler about you landing that big fat juicy
burger salary and a colleague, who you thought was your friend, suddenly stops you in your clickity-clack sashay and says, “you’ll fit in well there.” You stare blankly at her and say “thanks,” no “congratulations,” “we’ll miss you,” nothing.