You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

“You’re the kind of woman that other women hate!”
“I hate you so much!”
“You’re so gorgeous; I hate you!”

What.The.Fuck.

At what point exactly did hating each other become a compliment? How is this a good thing? And what is really so wrong with old-fashioned compliments that don’t drive wedges between ourselves and our friends? Compliments like, “You look great!” I mean. If you’re looking for emphasis you can just add a “really” in there. Let me demonstrate: “You look really great!” More emphasis needed? Add a motherfucking cuss word. “You look really fucking great!” Need a non-bad-word for a church picnic? Try learning some adjectives. Here’s a list:

Alluring
Angelic
Bewitching
Classy
Dazzling
Delightful
Elegant
Exquisite
Graceful
Grand
Lovely
Magnificent
Pulchritudinous
Radiant
Refined
Sublime
Wonderful

Yeah, I said motherfucking pulchritudinous. And you are. And I love you. Which is why we need to stop hating on each other.

I posted this image (via Adios Barbie) on SOAM’s Facebook wall yesterday and proceeded to have the weirdest debate ever about modesty of all things. This particular image isn’t even about modesty. It is clearly discriminating against size (or, as one woman pointed out, any aspect of a woman’s body that doesn’t fit conventional beauty standards). To debate modesty is rather pointless anyway, since it’s all subjective. The idea of what modesty is changes from era to era, from culture to culture, from woman to woman. The point of the whole thing – modesty included – is that we have to stop making comments and judgements about other women’s clothing. Or about other women’s anything, really. Cause news flash: if it doesn’t affect you, it doesn’t affect you.

Instead it keeps us separate. It divides us. Where we could be coming together to support each other and to promote the validity of the spectrum of what beauty is, we are actually contributing to this one particular ideal that is created for us and that keeps us feeling bad about ourselves. Instead of lifting each other up, we – under the facade of a compliment – tear each other down. Honestly, I’d rather you just insult me. That’s easier to know what to do with. This confusing frenemy bullshit women have created for each other is detrimental to each of us, and particularly to women as a group.

In many circumstances I might say it’s better to get to the root of a saying and say that instead. But in this case saying, “You’re so beautiful that I’m jealous of you” isn’t really any better. If you are jealous of a friend that is your issue. It’s a legitimate issue and I am not trying to undermine your feelings, but it is your issue. By stating such a thing to a friend you put this weird burden on them to feel guilty for having been complimented, and to try to make you feel better. Chances are they try to make you feel better by tearing themselves down (“Oh, but I look terrible today! You look much better”). And we’re back to degrading ourselves. This time as an unharmonious duet.

Does it feel good to know other women are jealous of us? To hear that we’re hated for our beauty? Sometimes it might, yes. At least on the surface. But I would bet that if we dig deeper, we’d find that it’s a kind of bitter happiness. A happiness that’s less actual happiness and more a consolation prize for having been pushed away from a friend. If we can’t be loved, at least we can be beautiful.

Know what’s more awesome than the consolation prize? The actual prize. Of getting (or giving!) a real compliment. No strings attached. You’re beautiful! I love your eyes! That color makes you look radiant! Your hair looks amazing today! I love that dress on you! You look motherfucking pulchritudinous today!

And you do. Look motherfucking pulchritudinous today.

Filed in This is a Woman

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • bethany actually July 10, 2013, 2:10 am

    I fully had to look up the word “pulchritudinous.” So I learned something new today. Thanks, Bonnie! (Oh, and I agree with everything you said. Obviously.)

    Reply
    • bonnie July 10, 2013, 9:23 am

      Well, I found it in a list of synonyms for “beautiful” while I as writing this post. I know I’ve heard it before, but I wasn’t familiar enough with it, either.

      Reply
  • JenK July 10, 2013, 9:50 am

    You look motherfucking glorious every day, Bonnie. And, your shoe collection is a beautiful thing to behold.

    Reply
    • bonnie July 10, 2013, 10:04 am

      With the recent addition of those red shoes, I realized I am at least halfway to a rainbow of shoes. NOW I NEED A RAINBOW OF SHOES.

      Reply
  • Beverly July 10, 2013, 12:00 pm

    Damn straight! Fantastic post!

    Reply
  • moxytocin July 10, 2013, 6:19 pm

    this is the best argument ever for studying vocabulary for the GRE: this is THE ONLY time in real life that I have ever seen “pulchritudinous” used. thank you, both for your post, and for that!

    Reply
    • bonnie July 10, 2013, 8:22 pm

      Haha! I’ve been walking around the house saying it all day today. I’ve also been walking around the house saying things like “brillig” and “slithy toves” and “vorpal sword” because I had to read the Jabberwocky before bed last night for my English class. I call it a Lewis Carroll hangover.

      Reply
  • Madderakka July 15, 2013, 5:02 pm

    This! A cousin of mine posted that offensive piece of crap on her FB page and I tried to explain what was wrong with it to her, but she kept thinking I was only offended because it seemed anti-fat people. The catty-ness of women depresses me.

    Reply

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