If you’re going to comment on someone’s appearance, don’t.
But if you’re one of those people who can’t resist, here’s a tip: say something actively positive. The whole “Ooooooh, I see you got your hair cut…” or the dubious “Are those new glasses?” aren’t actually pleasant things to say to someone. If you must, then try something like “Hey, great glasses!” (complimentary, and does not require a response.)
The whole “neutral” thing is kind of passive-aggressive and an infringement on people’s personal territory. What gives you the right to make a random unasked-for comment about someone’s appearance, or on a choice they’ve made? A choice that was possibly difficult and is certainly personal? On a haircut they maybe aren’t happy with, for example?
If you’re not going to say something wholeheartedly complimentary, maybe consider why you’re saying anything in the first place. Most people are already so insecure about their appearance, and have had so much experience of being judged, and are perfectly aware that they don’t look like runway models. Nobody needs catty little snarks or dubious observations about their appearance and accessories.Also, if you’re commenting on someone’s appearance as a means to start a conversation? Don’t be a jerk. If you want to start a conversation, start one about something a little less intrusive than the other person’s appearance. And don’t ever expect that someone will want to discuss their tattoo, haircut, jewellery, sequined boots, piercings, glasses, or any other personal matter with you. Your curiosity does not obligate them to respond.
Either be actively enthusiastic or STFU. And know that even if you are wholeheartedly complimentary, you are treading on thin ice, because in the end it’s actually none of your business what choices people make with their bodies.
And PS: If you’re one of those people who comments on appearances “for their own good” or “to help them make better choices,” maybe consider staying in your room and thinking about what you’ve done.
(This week’s Pet Peeve is a collaboration between me and Qrys—who generously supplied the pictures!)