Uncomplimentary behaviour


Do not give me a compliment under any circumstances. I’ll just say something like “This old thing?” or “It really needs a trim” or “I forgot to add enough salt”. And we’ll both feel awkward and embarrassed. So let’s just agree, right here and now, that compliments are completely wasted on me.

Because I have no idea how to accept them.

Case in point: I was waiting for my appointment with my hair stylist the other night when my hair colourist came over for a chat. (OK, OK, yes I have a stylist and a colourist. It’s just the way things roll in Darlinghurst.) She said: “I just wanted to tell you how great you look. I noticed the moment you walked in – so stylish.”

And instead of saying “Why thank you, that’s so lovely of you”, I said “Oh, really, because I’ve been feeling self-conscious. My pants are too tight and they’re making my belly bulge over the top and I’ve spent the whole day trying too hide it.”

My hair colourist almost visibly blanched at my response. She assured me that she hadn’t noticed my belly bulge and started edging away from the fruit loop on the couch.

And I felt so STUPID. I did a bit of internal berating about how easy it would have been to just accept her kind words and not spoil them with my ridiculous angst. But it was too late, the damage was done.

What is WRONG with me? Why am I so hard on myself?


I wish I could be more like these women showcased by Jade Beall on her photography studio’s Facebook page. They are proud of who they are and their battle scars. After Jade Beall uploaded a series of self-portraits of her semi-nude postpartum body, hundreds of mothers wrote to her, asking if she could take portraits of them “just as they were” as well.

She’s currently in the process of collating the photos and written accounts of mothers’ journeys from self-doubt to body confidence in a book called “A Beautiful Body”.

As Huffington Post reports: “Put together, these images are meant to show mothers as they really look, imperfect but no less beautiful for what society might consider their physical ‘flaws’.”

Good for them, but I’ve still got a bit of a way to go. OK, a looooooooong way. How about you?



8 thoughts on “Uncomplimentary behaviour

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  1. I had to learn that lesson too (coz ppl r ALWAYS giving me compliments!! Buahahaha)
    Just. Say. Thankyou!!
    Nothing else required. No excuses for y u look healthy today, or your cooking – seriously, dont EVER make excuses for your cooking, its AMAZING (thanx megz)
    Thankyou is seriouzly ALL that is required… & also gives u time to think coz the other person will keep blathering on once u acknowledge their praise…
    So… give it a go…
    Geez alana, ur blog is fantastic, i laugh all the time coz i can relate to what u r doing & how u feel about things, u r so openly honest…

  2. Yes, I have also learned to just say, “Thank you!”. Like Megz said above, that is all you need, even if you don’t feel it (worthy of the compliment), just “fake it till you make it” – it makes the other person feel good too and then everyone can bathe in the warm fuzzy glow. And I agree too about your blog – you write with honesty and humour, thanks for doing it!

  3. I was just having this conversation recently with a bunch of women my age (40-ish) about how hard we find it to take a compliment. It’s so sad that so many of us find it so hard to believe anyone could actually think we look nice – and to accept it graciously when they point it out! I like what the others above have said. We probably all need to practice just a simple ‘thank you’ (and then let the turmoil rage on the inside if needs be)! These photos are fascinating.

    1. One of my Facebook friends reckons it’s the Aussie way. Whereas another friend who lived in New York for many years reckons Americans would be offended if you deflected their compliments rather than graciously accepting them.

  4. Years ago we dined at Jacques Raymond, then in Richmond, and the bill arrived. Suffice it to say it was HUGE!
    I made a big fuss about wanting to pay the bill but my then wife insisted on paying because our guests were her clients. The older man said to me, quietly, the best response was to always “accept with grace” and I have remembered that important piece of advice ever since.
    It applies to virtually every situation from compliments, to gifts or whoever pays for dinner! Accept with grace…
    (Actually, I think Rupert Murdoch paid, by default!) 🙂

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