“You look good for your age.” Most of my readers over a certain age have been given this compliment. How have you felt about it? I am working hard to not be a peckish sixty-something woman, so I don’t like to complain about compliments. But there’s something about the “for your age” part that ruffles my silvery fur.
It’s like being given a heartfelt compliment and having 10% yanked back. Sometimes, I admit, I have said, “Thank you, I’m 39.” (Only with someone I intuit has a good sense of humor!) And I wonder, at what age does one start receiving this slightly wilted compliment? Not at 30, certainly. Maybe 40? After 50, it’s almost a sure thing.
As Rosemary Donahue writes in Allure: “While the intention of such comments may be good, they’re actually loaded with the implicit bias that being younger is better and that the recipient’s best years are behind her. In reality, a true compliment would sound like this: “You look great.” Period.”
And imagine if we qualified compliments with other traits that we don’t control: You look good for a woman? You look good for a Canadian? You look good for your height? Outrageous to the ear, of course.
So here is my proposal: let’s start omitting the last three words, no matter the age of the recipient. “You look good” is a complete sentence and conveys a sincere admiration of the physical self. Either that, or we start adding “for your age” to everyone we wish to compliment. “Is that your toddler? She is adorable for her age!”
“I was tired of seeing the Graces always depicted as beautiful young things. I think wisdom comes with age and life and pain. And knowing what matters.”–Louise Penny, A Fatal Grace
What say you? Do you give or receive this compliment? Any feelings about it? Share, please!
Stay safe, wash and wash and wash (your hands), xo
Wear what you love, always. Here are some goodies to browse: