Gender is an invisible social construct that pervades our society. We are taught from the moment we’re born to conform to gender norms through the clothes we wear, the toys we receive, and how our parents talk to us. Boys are often told that they are smart, brave, brave, funny, or clever. Girls are told to not wear dirty clothes and are told that they are pretty, beautiful, or cute almost by default.
Although it may sound like a compliment, children learn values and where they fit in the world from the information they get from their environment.
Men who make comments based on their appearance send the message that women and girls are valued most. This can cause parents to undervalue their daughters’ strength and abilities from an early age. This problem of obsessive focus on the physical appearance of women and girls can lead to body image problems later in life. It can also have devastating effects on self-worth.
Adulthood can be a time when complimenting another woman on her appearance can seem like a way to make someone feel happy and connected. This can be dangerous as you don’t know what your words will do to the recipient.
It may seem innocent to tell someone that they look great after a weight loss. But if the weight loss is due to grief, illness or disordered eating, the person will likely be extremely uncomfortable and cringing inside.
Complementing someone’s looks is an insult that is mostly a result genetics and not the person’s control. It also lowers their worth and reinforces the message that women are more valuable for being beautiful than to be smart, strong, or to be a friend, mentor, leader, or leader.
In professional settings, where women have struggled for generations to get a seat at the table and be treated with the same respect and opportunities as men, it might be time to lift one another up by not focusing on their appearance.
“You excel at what you do”
Next time you feel the urge to compliment another woman’s appearance, think about a skill or talent that she has and compliment it instead. Women can become depressed if they receive constant comments about their appearance.
It is simple and effective to cheer your friends on for their great achievements. This will help you have more positive conversations with other women.
“You are strong and resilient”
We are all quick to praise achievements and positive milestones in the lives of our friends, but we shy away from talking about difficult or uncertain times.
Recognizing someone’s resilience can help boost self-sufficiency, confidence, and provide reassurance that they are valued and respected, no matter what life throws at them.
“You are intelligent and wise”
Although it is an outdated trope that women cannot be both beautiful or intelligent, it still dampens women’s ambition and confidence. A study found that women who are subject to frequent compliments and comments based on their appearance may underestimate their intelligence. One study showed that women who were objectified by researchers performed worse on an IQ test.
There are many types of intelligence. Praise other women for their expertise and you will remind them of how valuable they are, regardless of their appearance.
“You are an amazing leader”
Many unconscious biases are still influenced by sexism, especially in the workplace. Women who are attractive are often considered less qualified for leadership and authority positions.
Recognizing the outstanding leadership abilities of women in your workplace can change the narrative and help support gender equality in the workplace. This will allow future generations of women to be empowered and free to pursue their dreams in any field.