1. “You don’t know how pretty you are”
I met a guy in a bar once who told me “It’s like you don’t even know how pretty you are”. Oh yes, tell me more things I don’t know about myself, all-knowing dude! “You’re beautiful” is a compliment. “You’re sexy and gorgeous” is a compliment. “You don’t know how pretty you are” basically means “You seem to be unaware of whether or not others find you attractive, and I’m into that”. Save it for the One Direction cover band, honey.
2. “You have great skin”
It’s skin. It’s a body organ. As long as it’s covering your face, it’s pretty much doing what it needs to do. I wash my face. I don’t sleep in makeup. I put stuff on it that’s supposed to be good. That’s pretty much the extent of how much control I have over what my skin feels like doing. Although lately, my skin likes to freak out for no reason, so maybe I’m just sad that I don’t hear this one as much anymore.
3. “You look great. Have you lost weight?”
This non-compliment is usually given with the best of intentions, but weight-related comments are not okay.
4. “I love your makeup!”
On the one hand, thank you for acknowledging the artistry that went into my face today. But the makeup is on my face. So why not just say, “You look pretty”? This girl I knew in college said to me once, “I love how you did your wingtip eyeliner. I wish I could pull that off, but it always feels like I have sooo much makeup on my eyes”. Are you saying I overdid it? Is it too much? I never know.
5. “You look sooo pretty!” (when you’re with someone who doesn’t usually see you with makeup, and you’ve decided to put some on today)
When too much emphasis is placed on the fact that I look better than usual and happen to be wearing makeup that day, this is also a problem. I never know what to say when someone who doesn’t usually see me in makeup freaks out when I do, and says “You look sooo pretty!” or “You look different today!” Yeah, well, I put on makeup today. They’ll try to say something like, “Oh no, it’s not that, it’s definitely something else”. You can say it. It’s the makeup, let’s move on.
6. “You’re such a creative thinker”
Translation: You’re an erratic, disorganized mess and I don’t know how to deal with you.
7. “I don’t usually date/hook up with ____ girls, but you’re really cute”
A guy once said to me mid-make-out, “I don’t usually hook up with Latinas, but you’re really cute”. I don’t usually hook up with ridiculous white dudes in Elmo costumes at Halloween parties, but I guess there’s a first time for everything. I’m all about having new experiences, but helping you check a box on your ethnic sex check-list? Not something I’m going to do.
8. “You look very comfortable today”
Translation: I see you are wearing sweatpants today. I see me judging you for wearing sweatpants today.
9. “You remind me of/you look like…”
Unless you’re about to finish that sentence with “this really smokin’ hot girl I know”, this is not a compliment. There is too much ambiguity for there to be a compliment. Sometimes people say stuff like, “You remind me of this girl I knew in high school!” Is that a compliment? Was she funny? Hot? Smart? WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?
10. “You look so pretty in dresses! You should wear dresses more often!”
I don’t wear dresses a lot. But when I do, people like to freak out and tell me I should wear them more. Though I appreciate this compliment, dresses kind of make me feel weird, like a chimpanzee in human clothes. I’m perfectly content with my uniform of funky, chunky oversized sweaters and jeans in unexpected colors. So thank you, but no thank you for the compliment-plus-unsolicited-fashion-advice combo.
11. “I love your laugh!”
Translation: You have a ridiculous laugh that makes other people laugh at the way your laugh sounds.