This World Friendship Day (30 July), instead of complimenting our friends on their appearance or weight, let’s celebrate all the wonderful qualities which make them so unique.
For a surprisingly small gesture, compliments can have a big impact. Whether you’re complimenting a friend, family member or co-worker, giving someone a compliment can boost their mood for the rest of the day. And compliments don’t just have a positive impact on the receiver; studies have shown that acts of kindness and altruism can help the giver to feel happier and increase their life satisfaction.
While you may be inclined to believe that giving a compliment is a pretty easy business – after all, who can’t conjure up one nice thing to say about someone – it’s not always as straightforward as it seems.
For example, calling a young girl “pretty” or “beautiful” may seem like a nice thing to do, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. The fact of the matter is that when we spend a lot of time talking about an aspect or quality of someone – and praising them for that thing – we send a message that that subject is important.
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The same can be said for complimenting someone on weight loss; while it may seem harmless to tell someone they’re looking “slimmer,” comments that focus on someone’s weight suggest that their body – and the way it looks – is the most important part about them. And that’s just not true.
The crux of the issue is this: no one can change their genetics. When we compliment people for their looks – whether that’s their weight, skin or facial features – we’re congratulating them for something they played absolutely zero role in creating and have no control over.
So this World Friendship Day (30 July), why not compliment your friends for the things they’ve achieved. From praising someone for being positive to admiring their talents, here are 10 ways to give someone a compliment without bringing appearance into the equation.
1. “You are so much fun to be around”
2. “You are so talented at …”
3. “You’ve really changed my perspective on…”
4. “You inspire me because…”
5. “You brighten my day”
6. “You have great taste in…”
7. “You are an invaluable member of this team/friendship group”
8. “You’re such a great listener”
9. “I admire how passionate you are about…”
10. “You empower me to…”
For far too long, the representation of women by both mainstream and social media has failed to reflect who we see in the mirror, and its impact on our mental health is worrying. Stylist’s Love Women initiative promises to change that. As well as the launch of our Body Politics series, we’ve partnered with Dove, whose latest project (in conjunction with photo library Getty Images) aims to increase the supply of diverse pictures of women – which we will be using going forward.
Our editor-in-chief Lisa Smosarski has also made five pledges to Stylist readers:
1. We will ensure the women you see on our pages represent all women – inclusive of ethnicity, body shape, sexuality, age and disability. When we create content and ideas, we will ensure that all women are represented at the table. We commit to featuring one fashion or beauty photoshoot a month that uses real, diverse women.
2. We will ensure that we never sell an impossible dream. We believe in aspiration, but not in selling a lie. We will work with influencers, celebrities and other partners to encourage them to reveal their truths, too.
3. We will celebrate the so-called flaws of women to prove the normality in all of our bodies. We will run videos, photoshoots and honest accounts of our bodies and how they behave.
4. We will hold regular huddles with our advertisers and brand partners to challenge the way they portray and reflect women in their branding and advertising. We will call out and challenge brands, media and people who refuse to represent women with respect and truth. We will call on the government to support our goals.
5. Through insight and anecdote, we will teach everyone about the issues facing women, what needs to be done and how we can all work together to resolve this self-esteem crisis.
Find out more about Stylist’s Love Women initiative here.
This article was originally published on 9 February but has been updated throughout.