Day 15–How Shall we Speak to One Another

Reflecting on the practices of no makeup for Lent.

How and when is it appropriate to comment on someone’s personal appearance?  This is the question of the day.  When I was 23 years old I was hanging out at an amusement park.  I was wearing baggy overalls because I wanted to be comfy during my day of play.  A very well meaning woman asked me when I was due.  I didn’t quite understand the question at first.  She repeated, “When is your due date?”  I answered her in a breezy, non offended tone, “I’m not pregnant, but it’s easy to see how you’d make that mistake.  I have gained a little weight recently.”  It’s lucky for her that she made it to her car safely because my true self wanted to rip out her eyes.  Clearly, it is never ok (let me repeat…NEVER OK) to ask a woman when they’re due unless you are 258% certain that she is pregnant….meaning you heard it directly from her or from her spouse or from her best friend.

Having gone through 3 very public pregnancies, I can also share that it’s not so helpful to comment on a pregnant woman’s growing body even if you know with 258% confidence that she is indeed pregnant.  The exception to this is if you are telling her that she’s incredibly gorgeous, beautiful, spectacular and full of life (just don’t use the word full unless you want to be slapped).  Don’t be surprised if she doesn’t take the compliments well.  Also towards the end of her pregnancy avoid all “cute” references to her swallowing a watermelon, basketball or eating a few too many burritos.  Not cool.

Now…how about women who aren’t pregnant?  What can you say or not say to the every day, run of the mill mom, who might not have showered in 2 days and is covered with baby spit up?  What can you say or not say to the professional woman in a business suit?  What can you say to the majority of the female population who is somewhere in the middle of this spectrum?   Only kindness.  Unequivocal kindness.  No conditions.  No if’s, and’s or but’s.  And make her the object of the compliment.  Instead of “That’s a great dress” offer “You look great in that dress.”  How about just gazing at her beauty (unless you don’t know her personally…then that’s just creepy) and telling her that God did good work when she was created.  What about acknowledging the effort that she makes to care for her appearance?  Sometimes we work hard to look and feel beautiful.

Basically, people, let’s use common sense when speaking to each other about appearances.  And only speak kindness.  Do not criticize. The world is hard enough without someone being mean about how you look.  Build up one another.  So, go out an offer a compliment to someone you love about his/her appearance.  Do it today…or tomorrow…depending on when you read this.  Make the world a better place, one smile and happy word at a time.  The majority of us really care about our appearance, whether we like to admit it or not.  We just want to hear that our appearance is enough…maybe even a little more than enough.

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