By: Denise Erpenbach
Everyone at some point in life has received a backhanded redhead “compliment”. You might hear it from the cashier at your local coffee shop, or the guy who works downstairs in the accounting department. It typically starts out as a thoughtful, appreciative compliment, but somehow twists in the middle and ends up sounding more like an insult. It leaves you feeling confused and you ask yourself, “Should I feel flattered or offended?”
A great example of a backhanded compliment is:
“You look so wonderful now! I barely recognized you!”
Translation: You previously looked hideous. Thank goodness you changed.
As a redhead, I feel like these remarks happen to me on a weekly basis. Usually it is by a well-intentioned acquaintance, or a stranger in the grocery store. I know they aren’t trying to belittle me, (at least I hope not) but I can’t help but feel a little slighted.
Recently, I was chatting with my redheaded sister about the backhanded compliments we receive, and how we respond. To our delight, we realized we heard some of the exact same “compliments” with precisely the same wording.
Here are our favorites:
1. “You’re really pretty… for a redhead.”
2. “Wow! Your hair isn’t that ugly red!”
3. “You’re freckles are so cute, and I usually hate freckles.”
4. “Pale skin suits you so well; I’d look terrible with your skin tone.”
I recognize that most of these phrases are not in-depth, cleverly worded insults meant to pick at my confidence, and therefore, deserve to be brushed off. However, if the comment comes from someone I encounter often, and it seems that they are making a conscious effort to say something thinly disguised as a compliment, I will take the time to reply.
In an effort to stick to the positive side of the compliment, I’ll say something like, “Thank you. I really love my red hair! I get it from my grandmother.”
Though occasionally after a more obvious insult, I’d like to reply haughtily, “It is difficult to be rare and beautiful, but someone has to breakup the dull and boring.”
But I then remind myself that handling these types of remarks gracefully is more important than humiliating someone with a nasty retort.
Besides, their tacky compliment has no effect on my confidence!
Have you ever received any backhanded compliments? How did you handle it? Comment below.
Rock it like a Redhead!