“You Look Good For Your Age”

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.

My handsome husband, with “Dude” hair grown during the pandemic. I love it. He looks good for any age. 😊

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.

LOL. You can send a card to someone you love, if they have a lively sense of humor about their age!

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
The orchids in bloom at my friend Bryan’s house. Ever beautiful.

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:

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  1. I have NO problem with the comment. I would say “thanks” and that’s it. My son tells people “my mom is the fittest 62 year old you will ever meet”. That’s a compliment in my book.

  2. Sandy is definitely rocking the “Dude” hair! I’ve been lucky to not have too many “for your age” compliments but I’m sure as I get older (I will be 60 this year!) they will come. I do get told that “you don’t look your age”, and while I get the intent behind those kind of comments, this IS what that age looks like ;). It’s just always a nice boost to be told you look good. Period.

    • Hello Shelley and thanks for your comments! Oh to be 60 again, and hey – you definitely don’t look your age : > I hope you’re feeling well and staying safe. xx

  3. You have a point–it’s qualifying the compliment, which is not as nice as a whole compliment. At the same time, I am hungry enough for compliments that I will take any crumbs one offers.

    • Good morning TOF and thanks for your comments. Please don’t accept crumbs! You’re a completely lovely person. Stay safe and well, xx.

  4. I love your comeback, Patti. I just try to smile when someone says “for your age.” Once I had to bite my tongue when someone said, “You must have been really pretty when you were younger.”

    • Oh ouch, that last one is a stinger! Like from Caddyshack: “You must have been a real looker before electricity.” Keep smiling and know you are fabulous, xx.

    • Patti I often get (as a large gal) oh you have such a pretty face, I hate this and the age comment. They are both passive-aggressive and deigned to make us feel bad. True friends/ admirers don’t need these qualifiers. Stay beautiful Patti.

      • Yes, Lynette – compliments need to be without “take-aways”. Thanks for your comment and for coming by. Have a beautiful day down under! xx

  5. I’ve gotten the compliments. Now as I see more and more people my age or younger, who have not aged well for whatever personal reason, I take the compliment as well-intented. Dude does look great with his hair! My husband is just now growing his military cut out and he’s looking hot !
    We are 55 and 57

    • Hi Renee and cheers to your husband for letting the hair flow! I agree the compliments are no doubt well-intended. Stay safe, xx.

  6. This burns me as well. Since the compliments are less frequent with every passing year though I’ll take what I can get. I’m going to start using your comeback now. Haha! I love it!

    Sandy always looks great. You both do. You’ve both nailed effortlessly chic.


    • Hi Suzanne – I am with you on taking what I can get! But I’d still prefer just a simple “oh hey hottie.” (JK – it’s nice in many ways to be invisible when I want to be). And you and Robert are quite the stunning pair, back at ya. Stay gorgeous and groovy, xx.

  7. The “compliment” I received from my stepson was “you’re not unattractive”. LOL. I really do know that he meant it in the kindest way.

    • LOL, that is a double negative compliment! And good for you interpreting in the best way. Stay safe, xx.

  8. Yup, that’s s comment that yanks my chain. It’s right up there with, “You look great…today.” Like other days, I don’t look great? Why must we qualify a compliment??

    Sandy does look handsome, and very much in the Dude vein (I’m wearing a Big Lebowski tee as I type this!). Rock on, Patti!

    • LOL at the BL tee! We have a couple too. The Dude abides.
      Thanks for coming over and stay fabulous, xx.

  9. I agree Patti. It’s a bit of a backhanded compliment. It’s how we feel when we’re receiving this comment that matters, I’m sure it’s meant in a lovely way but I know I feel “Oow” then “Umm”. Hope all is good with you in sunny Florida, whenever things get back to a little normality it’s the first place we want to visit.

    • Yes, come visit Florida when you can, Alison! A “little normality” sounds wonderful. Stay well, xx.

  10. To copy the repetition style of Gertrude Stein ,a compliment is a compliment is a compliment and I am grateful at this stage in life for all compliments . I do however agree with you that leaving out the phrase for your age would make the compliment even better.

      • Patti,
        I actually think that adding “for your age” is rather rude. There are so many other ways to phrase a compliment.
        BTW I love Louise Penney’s books. Just finished All the Devils are Here, her new book.

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