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30 Days of Truth, Day 11: Something on which people seem to compliment you the most

"Tell me," he said with a distinct note of sarcasm, "What does it feel like to have people tell you how beautiful you are all the time?"

I did a double take.  "Is this one of those times where you're making fun of me and I don't realize it?"

Because anyone who has been an older sister for over three decades knows that hearing your younger brother imply that you're beautiful even if it's indirectly and masked in a tone of disdain is generally a prelude to some sort of soul crushing insult.

"No, really, every time I introduce you to someone, they always comment on how gorgeous you are later.  I'm just wondering... how does that feel... to be told you're beautiful all the time?  Does it get old?"

It doesn't get old, but it certainly retains the spirit of being incredibly awkward every single time.

Only slightly less awkward than having to write this post, in fact.

I'm confident.  I love myself.  But, I am not really a big fan of people who repeat compliments that other people have given them.

This blogging thing is finally causing me to live in direct opposition to my values, all of a sudden.

I'm not blind, I can see myself in the mirror.  I've ascertained that I am attractive.  Pleasing on the eyes, etc.  I try not to look in the mirror too long or too often, though, because I start getting... picky.

My right eye is slightly smaller than my left.  I'm starting to get sun damage on my forehead.  Let us not forget the dark circles under the eyes, and, speaking of awkward, every year I seem to have to battle a little more of that  facial hair with which every woman of my heritage has been cursed.

How does it feel to be told you're gorgeous?  Like nothing.  I was raised by people who didn't care much about that.  Being attractive is not something you've actually done or accomplished, you know.  It's just about DNA and symmetry.

::But, I do want to add that I'd like to give a shout out to the mom, my dad and the Most Benificient and Most Merciful...::

Another thing I get compliments about is being articulate.

This one always makes me laugh a little.  Because I wonder if people would say that if, well, I was white.

Now, hear me out,

I cannot begin to count the number of times people have said, "Your English is amazing... I mean, you don't have an accent, at all."  Interestingly, these people have no idea how incredibly racist that is... and they are so lucky that stuff like that doesn't bother me.

I do, however, say, "Um.  Hi.  I was born here."

And, besides, if you listen real close, you'll note that I do, in fact, have an accent.  I say things like, "Y'all need to just chill out or I'm fixin' to make a scene up in here."

No, seriously, I say that, like, all the time.

So, this compliment about my being articulate is generally diminished by the number of times people have assumed that having brown skin automatically translates to accented English.  I might actually be articulate, but, sometimes, I can't help but imagine that I'm being graded on a curve or something.

Just so I don't feel really bad, do you mind telling me about something you get complimented on a lot?  It would make me feel a little less ... dirty... about writing this post.

Reader Comments (58)

my voice. apparently, even when i'm not trying, i sound like a porn star on the phone. i get it often enough that i usually alter my tone when i answer the phone and i don't know who it is.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEricka

Well, you really ARE gorgeous, so there. :P

The most compliments... hmmm.. probably, my body. But with that also comes the opinions that I'm too skinny, just right, need to gain some weight, am I anorexic? and on and on. This can be annoying if I do gain some weight (which I do- every winter like clockwork - that's right - I'm a neanderthal) and then it's still my body. But it's something I do nothing about (almost nothing), I haven't "earned" it - I just have boobs and a great metabolism, I guess.

Beyond looks, it's my brain, or art.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSybil Law

I'm doing this meme so you'll just have to wait.

You are strikingly beautiful. But you are also fiercely intelligent and articulate and respectful and loving and caring and wise beyond your years.

Among other things.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPoppy

Being articulate - well-spoken - is not common regardless or race creed color or heritage.

If beauty is not a compliment because you have not accomplished anything, being noted as articulate is a compliment because you have.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermare

I get complimented on being extremely intelligent a lot. I mean it happens so often that I wonder if they say it because I'm not pretty. Intelligence is supposed to make up for a lack of beauty, right??

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

And this is why I love you so much. I too grew up in a family in which physical attractiveness was downplayed. But really? You are indeed stunning.

Then there was that conversation I had with a friend years ago in Virginia. I told her about many of my own people would say that I "talked like a white girl." Now I was the first black friend that this woman had had. She responded, "Really? Because you are articulate? You speak better than most white people I know." My mother taught me from early childhood that what makes a woman physically beautiful to many will fade with age whereas intelligence will not.

When I let down my guard, there is one thing upon which I am always complimented -- my smile. And I'll even let you in on the secret. In photos, my right eye squints if I am truly smiling. I mean a smile in which there is no thought but instead pure joy. I smiled a lot as a child; now I'm trying to remind myself what that feels like.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKailyn

Faiqa, my dear, you are beautiful in every sense of the world. Your gorgeous face is actually the least beautiful thing about you- and you are one of the loveliest women I've ever met. But your wit, your kindness, your intelligence, and your compassion- they illuminate you. And I think people see this when they compliment your looks.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErrin

They're right. You're beautiful.

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSuperjules

Knowing how egotistical you REALLY are, it's hilarious hearing you be all modest and shit here.


October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAvitable

This is actually kind of hard for me to read because I would kill to be able to look the way you do. I wonder if you appreciate how many doors that opens up for you, how many walls you DON'T have to put up because of the way you look.

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Britt

Compliments are, as a rule, awkward (at least for me). I try to be gracious and/or humble, but it generally comes across as a sarcastic arrogance masked as self-deprecation.

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSciFi Dad

You've struck a nerve with this one.

I am actually fairly plain (not ugly, but certainly not beautiful). I realized early in life (about 2nd grade) that my destiny was NOT to be beautiful. So, I went the Geeky Good Grades route and that has really worked out well for me. No complaints. Really.

Where you struck the nerve with me is that it seems my daughter might be beautiful. Or so, folks tell me, nearly every day that we leave the house. WHERE EVER WE GO. For someone who has sailed through life NOT being noticed (seriously, Faiqa - NO ONE tells me I am beautiful, which is fine because this one time, a guy told me I was beautiful and I knew he just wanted to get into my pants, oh my god, so not kidding here.)

Yes, this is unnerving for me to be with someone who is constantly being admired and commented upon. Also, what do I say? To say "Thank you", seems as if *I* am taking some credit for what might merely be some good genes mingling amongst each other. I say "might" because Anjali is only 3 and most 3 years old are cute, right?. Maybe her features will go wayward in her teens? :-D

Oh, and for the record, when I first saw a snap of your daughter, my first reaction was "God, she is BEAUTIFUL." But I didn't dare tell you because I know how that feels now - that compliment. Before I had a daughter, I HAD NO IDEA what that compliment felt like when offered for innocent purposes.

That should tell you a little something about my confusion on this entire topic.

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercagey

I get complimented on my looks and the fact that so far (knock on wood) I don't show my age. Sometimes it's backhanded ... "You have such a pretty face, if only you'd lose weight" so it's not always nice.

I tend to think of it like you - I have no control over how I look, and someday it will be gone, but it sure bothers my sister. We have the same parents but look only vaguely alike. In fact I look only vaguely like any of my family. I don't fit in. I'm pretty sure it's the cause of at least part of the resentment between us.

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

People love my hair...though I think the person they're really complimenting is my hair stylist!

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnjali

We've never met, so I have no basis upon which to compliment you. I'm 54 but don't look it, most folks place my age around 45. but yes, we are the ultimate critics of our own appearance. If your little brother is still trying to Zing you at your age- well, someone needs a Noogie...

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteryknot

I have the opposite problem. I was born in another country and people just assume I was born here. I've only been a citizen for 10 years.

I guess I get complimented a lot on how fit I am.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLynda

i get complimented on my hair...the curls and the color. yeah, the color is from a bottle and i had nothing to do with the curls (other than picking parents with great hair).
oh, my boobs get a lot of compliments, even when i don't post photos of them on my blog. but again, i did nothing to get the boobs so i find it bizarre when folks tell me they love them. especially weird when total strangers find it acceptable to comment on them within five minutes of meeting me.
but back to you. you are articulate for a woman of any color. your intelligence and the manner in which you present yourself are just BAM! (in a good way.) i know lots of smart people who can't communicate their way out of a paper bag, yet you make listening to you or reading your words a pleasure. so yeah, i don't care if you are purple, you are gifted.
and stunningly beautiful. but i don't wanna embarrass you with raving on and on about that because you will then think i wanna hump your leg. :)

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

I feel you, lady. I get the same thing about my English all the time, though I'm black and born in Canada. It's as if people expect me to speak in Ebonics or something. Yikes.

I get it. Truly.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrumble Girl

My smile. It's big, and I use it a lot.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSherry Carr-Smith

Gabriel's dad, who is not white, gets SO MANY compliments about how articulate he is. I've decided it's the ultimate racist compliment.
"Wow you're really well spoken!"
Because they expected something different?

That said, you do have a gift with your words. But I know what you mean. (Also HAI YOU'RE PRETTY!!111!1!)

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Grace

"Wow you're tall!"

Um, yeah. Thanks Captain Obvious.

Really? How does one reply to THAT?

I get complimented on my hair a lot but only by very old women in elevators because my hair is short, spiky and nearly completely grey. Somehow, these compliments do not make me feel better. People also tell me I'm really funny and then I panic and spend the next several minutes providing ample evidence to the contrary. I like your accent though - it is just like mine when I've had a few G & T's.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVikki

I think the second thing I ever said to you was your gorgeous. After I told you how much I loved your voices of the year post. Maybe I should think about what I say more?

I stand behind both of those comments though.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjodifur

@Ericka, This made me laugh.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Sybil Law, My cousin (who is basically my sister) is on the thin side and I get really upset when people comment on her being too thin. That's just the way she is, I don't think people realize it's kind of rude. Maybe because everyone wants to be thin?

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Poppy, Awww, that was really nice of you to say.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@mare, True.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Becca, I'm sure they say it because it's simply a fact. They're are a slew of other things they could say if they were just trying to compensate. And, at least based on your Twitter profile pic, I think you're very pretty. (Unless I'm mistaken and I'm thinking of someone else's twitter profile in which case, wow, AWKWARD. ;) )

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Kailyn, Yes, I've been told that I talk like a white girl, too. I think the thing about that I find most stunning is not that people think it but that they say it. To me. Without so much as batting an eyelash.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Errin, Oh, wow, Errin. Thanks. XOXO

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Superjules, Thank you. :-)

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Avitable, You're so jealous, it's just sad, really.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Miss Britt, You are beautiful, I mean that. And I'm not just saying that because I'm your friend. Maybe I am, but, anyway, it's true. Also, did a white blonde woman just tell a brown brunette woman that there are more doors open for the brown woman because of the way she looks? How does that even make SENSE? ;-)

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@SciFi Dad, Yeah, I do that, too. In fact, I'm pretty sure I did it in this post.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@cagey, I have a friend who left a very similar comment on this post in Facebook. People ask her if she's her children's babysitter. Sheesh.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Lisa, Oh, that "pretty face" one, I got that quite a bit. Not recently, but back in my early 20s when I had put on that freshmen 20. ACTUALLY, I think when Tariq and I first started hanging out, one of his friends said I was gorgeous, and Tariq said, "Yeah, if you lost a few pounds, you could be a model." I wasn't even overweight!! He's a keeper, that man. (For the record, he has NEVER commented on my weight... that was a one time thing).

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Anjali, The hair stylist does your hair once, though, right? If you can keep it up, that's all you, lady!!

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@yknot, Oh, we're forever trying to zing each other, it's part of our charm.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Lynda, You know, that is one thing I would LIKE to be complimented on (fitness)... but, I need to get in shape for that to happen. Congratulations on doing that. I will, too. Soon!

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@hello haha narf, People don't compliment you on what an incredibly positive and loving person you are? I find that just... crazy.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Grumble Girl, Snort at Ebonics. I guess people expect me to speak "CallCenteronics."

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Sherry Carr-Smith, Yay for that! I love to be around people who smile a lot.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Miss Grace, I think someone should do a study on how often white folks get told that they're articulate vs how often people of color are told that. You do it. I'm busy.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Colleen - Mommy Always Wins, Hahahahaha OMG... I do that to tall people all the time. Damn. It's because I'm short, I guess. Lesson learned.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Vikki, The G&Ts will do it every time. They turn everyone into a good ol' boy, I think.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@jodifur, And I appreciate that you do, I remember feeling very good about myself after meeting you, so the compliment was well said. And actually, I think the FIRST thing you said to me was "You're gorgeous." Like, before you even said "hello"... which, for the record, was awesome and I loved.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

@Faiqa, yeah, I actually thought of the irony of that statement today. Heh.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Britt


I thought I was the only person on the planet who said, "for the record."

Also, apparently, I need to work on my social skills.

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjodifur

Yes, once or twice I can sometimes get my hair right!

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnjali

@jodifur, No!! It was awesome... I loved it. Besides, I asked you if you were Indian... how dorky is THAT?

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

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