Friday, November 8, 2013

Fictionless Friday: Just Say Thank You

It began where all unexpectedly thought-provoking conversations occur – the office kitchen.

As we prepared our lunches, D noted that we were all wearing black and white that day. I complimented D on her coordinated shift dress and blazer combo. She waved it off, saying it was just something she threw together without thinking about it. C told me I looked cute in my preppy dress shirt and tweed skirt. I joked that it was part of my new objective to not look like such a schlub all the time. D admired C’s dressy black sweater and black skirt look, and C replied it wasn’t a choice as much as what was left clean in her closet before laundry day.

That’s when I stopped, turned to my co-workers, and asked, “Did you hear what we all just did?” They realized it immediately too.

None of us accepted each others' compliments! We all instinctively excused our beauty, shrugging it off as meaningless or unintended. We did it unconsciously and instantly.

Why do women do this? This wasn’t the first time I’ve caught myself doing it or seen others do it. I suppose we’re taught by our mothers and/or society that vanity is an unattractive trait while humility and modesty are more lady-like.

But what has happened to the line between demureness and denial? When did we learn to reject positive feedback as if accepting a compliment automatically labels us as conceited?

Ladies, no matter how the seed was planted, I think it’s time to stop doing this to ourselves. We’ve pushed the line so far back in the opposite direction that we’re not letting anything in. In the realm of female empowerment, standing in your truth is essential. And the truth is we are all beautiful in so many ways. We should start owning it!

I remember a friend telling me about reading this book – Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl. One of her biggest takeaways was that when French women are given a compliment, they simply say, “Thank you.”

What a concept! No excuses or disclaimers? How French! And it made me think how ridiculously American it is that we can’t just say thank you when someone says we have great skin or lovely eyes. We instinctively go into explanations and reasoning. Or divert the conversation as quickly as possible. We should just take it as a gift.

So to anyone who's ever told me I have beautiful hair or admired anything about my appearance --

Thank you!

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