“Your hair looks really cute today!”

I am almost over my hair anxieties at this point.  “Almost,” because the last time someone said this to me was four days ago, and my gut cringed.  The very sweet person who made the comment instantly added: “I mean, it’s really artistic-looking today…  Not boring… Not like… LONG hair” (she has beautiful long hair).  By that time, I had recovered, thanked her and ended her agony.  

So I started reflecting on the reasons for my cringing.  If someone says, “You look great today,” I don’t cringe at all.  I do cringe, however, if people comment on my charming accent.  My cringing has nothing to do with the intent of the other person, even when I am keenly aware when the first compliment is backhanded, or when my exotic accent has truly fascinated the complimenteur. 

So I am thinking that to register as offensive, the comment has to touch a nerve.  My hair is a nerve, and so is my accent. 

Now, that’s really unfair to the other person who may have absolutely no idea about what’s on your mind.  I say this because I’ve been on the other side too.  One time, someone was saying that he was thirsty and I responded with “You can have some water.”  Oh the fit that followed!  It turns out the guy thought I was giving him permission to drink water, because that’s how (he said) the verb “can” is most frequently used nowadays.

Interpretation is a messy affair.  Lots of responsibility.


4 thoughts on ““Your hair looks really cute today!”

  1. Rali, don’t you think that such interpretations sometimes is rather useful things, as they can help us to understand better other people and our own inner problems?

    1. Oh, absolutely and on many planes! I hate causing other people pain and to feel angry at them for causing me pain. So reflection is the way to go, in my book.

      Now – I am the forgiving type. But what to do if the person you’ve hurt, especially if inadvertently, keeps a grudge?

      1. I have to clarify something. Say, I am the inadvertent offender. I get really angry at first, because I hate being misunderstood, especially if the other person runs amok with his or her misunderstanding. This first stage is horrible, because if I don’t catch myself, I am capable of inflicting pain in a cold premeditated fashion. And even if I don’t, I know that I’ve thought about it. So the focus is on me. Forgiving then is the only expiation. Does this make sense?

  2. Hmm, I think a lot of it comes down to the inflection of the word “today.” The wrong tone and you’re accidentally created anxiety by implying that this is an unusual state of affairs, when that’s not what you meant at all. And yes, then the interpretation on the other end.

    Re: the accent, I don’t know what that feels like but I always find it uncomfortable to be complimented on something that isn’t exactly an aesthetic choice, per se. Anyway, it is useful to know what one’s, uh, issues, are, the better not to take things amiss.

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