Why Compliments From Other Women Do Way More For Me And My Ego Than Flattery From Men

March 25, 2014  |  

True story: another woman succeeded at making me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. I was still in college then. I was waiting for the shuttle bus to pull up, and the girl standing next to me at the stop tapped me on the shoulder. “I just wanted to say I looove your makeup!” I beamed and thanked her, but confessed that I wasn’t actually wearing anything on my face. “What? That’s not foundation? Your skin looks so good!” Now if you think I wasn’t feeling like a CoverGirl the whole ride home to my janky off-campus housing, you’re crazy. Am I weird for that?

Now, I’m not saying I’ve never been complimented before or after that moment. As a woman with a decent physique, I’m accustomed to sorta-compliments from guys, but they typically come off as audible observations of my anatomy. A landscape of my legs. Guestimates of the surface area of my boobs. A quick scan of the derrière cuppage that comes when I wear the right pair of jeans.

While some of the stuff that comes out of the mouths of the men I encounter are genuine, harmless statements of admiration (and not a ploy to get my digits or mask perverse thoughts behind ogling eyes), for the most part, all goes in one ear and out the other. Depending on the delivery of the comment, I usually return a quick “thanks,” an even quicker closed-mouthed smile and go on about my business. But honey, if a woman my age feels so moved to tap me and tell me she loves my shoes, cuts from a conversation to tell me my earrings are to die for, or temporarily returns to sobriety at a party to praise the glow factor of my skin, my whole day feels that much better.

Girl-kudos boost my ego in ways that a man can’t offer. Guilty pleasure TV — enter Real Housewives Of Wherever — suggests that we as women show no hesitation in tearing each other down. Compliments come few and far between. More often than not, it feels like the opposite is happening when two groups of women cross paths.

Ladies, we all know about the sidewalk standoff. You’re walking in one direction on a narrow walkway. A separate party of girls is headed toward you, talking over each other until you all make eye contact. For like two seconds, it feels like a showdown straight out of an old Western movie. Voices get hushed as you near each other. You maintain a blank face, but it’s hard to ignore the anxiety that comes with the whispers. Are they talking about me? Is it bad? Is it good? And even worse, they burst into laughter once they’ve brushed passed you. Was it something I wore?

Now think about how much better that situation feels when one of them tells you that your hair is amazing as they pass. Or you ask where one of them got a piece of their ensemble. Smiles erupt. Spirits are boosted. Day made. It’s a reciprocity thing.

The other day I changed up my hair and actually wore it out in an afro. While it felt like everyone under the sun took notice, it was my girlfriends’ vocal approval that made me truly fall in love with the new ‘do. That does numbers for my confidence, especially since I was nervous to actually wear it out like that in the first place.

So ladies, the next time you venture out into an estrogen-heavy setting, make an effort to offer honest pick-me-ups to your sisters. You never know how much of an impact it may have on their day, and their lives. Yes, it’s important for us all to cultivate self-confidence and self-love long before stepping out the front door, but a couple of kind words go a long way.

Stacy-Ann Ellis is a New York-based writer and photographer whose work has been featured in VIBE Magazine, VIBE Vixen, Hearts Converse, The Root and The Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @stassi_x.

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