Question: When is a compliment not a compliment?
Answer: When it's disguised as a nosy question.
I face this on almost a weekly basis and quite frankly, I've had it! The "compliment" is always delivered with a smile and a friendly tone of voice: "Have you lost weight?"
At first I was naive. I thought I could get out of sharing information which I consider to be personal by simply telling the truth: "No". But that isn't enough for these well-meaning people. They insist that I have indeed lost weight: "Oh, I think you have!" As if they would be in a better position than I am to know how much I weigh. I weigh, unfortunately, about the same as I did at this time last year, but I understand that I do own some clothes which are more slimming than others. In the past I have explained quite honestly that any imagined weight loss is merely an optical illusion. This does not deter them. They still insist I have lost weight. Finally, I just say, "thank you." Is that the appropriate response to their insistance that I have done something which I have not done? At least it ends the inquisition.
So here's my question: Why in the world should it matter to anyone whether or not I've lost weight? The only other people in the world who have a valid interest in this are my husband and my doctor! Oh, I know... they're being nice. These people aren't intentionally being rude; they think it's a compliment to be asked if you've lost weight. But a discussion of my weight is just not on my "feel-good" list. It feels something akin to being told, "Gee, you're not quite as fat as what I remembered." And to this I have to say thank you?
I know I'm not alone on this issue. I have a friend who really has lost weight- over 100 pounds- and she has it much worse than I do. She faces constant questions not only about her weight but how she has managed to do it, how many dress sizes has she lost, etc. I confided to her once that I hate all the "weight" questions, and she heartily agreed. But what to do without being rude in return?
You know what *would* feel good? Real compliments like, "You look really great today!" or "That outfit is so flattering on you!" Now who wouldn't love a comment like that? With just a tiny bit of extra effort, the first thought of "Hey, she's looking pretty good", which usually comes out of the mouth in the thoughtless form of "Have you lost weight?" can be turned into into a compliment that will absolutely make someone's week: "You look really great!"
Just think about it.