Compliments that aren't compliments

Photo / Jens Johnsson

A few weeks ago I got a pretty lame pick up line while on a date. It had me thinking of all the horrible compliments I’ve received that are truly microagressions* masked as “affection.”

Inspired by my not-so-great date, I compiled a list to share with you all of the truly atrocious words of affection I have received. If you've said these to anyone, you should probably stop. If you've had these things said to you, I feel your pain.

"Are you a half breed? You’re so pretty."

"You’re so exotic."

"What are you?" (Or, “What mix are you?” or, "What’s your race?" The amount of times I hear this before “Whats you’re name?” or “Where are you from?” is astounding. It's a quiet form of othering.)

"But you don’t look black." (Or, “But you don’t act black.")

"I’ve never been with a black girl before."

"I love your hair." (Proceeded by someone invading my space and touching my hair without asking. See Solange for more information on why this is insanely annoying and disrespectful.)

Are you a half breed? You’re so pretty.

"Why don’t you have a boyfriend? Someone should lock that down."

My thoughts on the matter

My thoughts on the matter

"Mixed babies are the cutest babies, which explains why you’re so cute." (Francesca Ramsey does a great bit explaining the fetishizing of “mixed babies” here.)

"You’re prettier than [insert woman’s name here]." (Hate when women’s beauty is compared to one another in the form of a “compliment.” It feels like there’s a competition between all women to be deemed beautiful by a single man. Oh glory me, thank god Brad thinks I’m prettier than Becky!).

Granted, I do not believe the majority of these words came from a hateful place. As I mentioned before, these compliments are microagressions, most people are unaware of the weight such words can hold. If you have more compliments-that-aren’t-compliments to add to this list by all means please share in the comments below.

- G R A C E

*For those unfamiliar with the term, microagressions are a casual, often unconscious, degradation of a marginalized group, more info here.