I walk into the school office. I have a long day ahead of me. Over 80 young people on my list today and they have been split into groups one labelled "bad behaviour" so I know what kind of day awaits me.
Wrapped up in my own thoughts, I am knocked sidewards when the receptionist looks at me, smiles and says, "You look nice today". I smile a little confused and walk off. You see today I have dressed for comfort and practicality; I haven't dressed to look nice, in fact nice is really the last thing I was thinking about when I got dressed at 4.30 am!
Discussing this with a friend later in the day, she couldn't understand my irritation with the comment. Should I just accept it, say thank you and be happy that someone noticed that the colour of my burgundy dress matched my fawn bracelet perfectly?
As children we are told how we must always thank people when they tell us we look nice, but should I be happy? Should I have to accept fleeting comments on my appearance when honestly I don't really care what anyone thinks about me, ever?
I have always had a problem with compliments. Ask any newly-trained life coach or personal development guru and apparently it's because I don't value myself enough and I can't accept people saying nice things to me. In fact I have even seen some online courses teaching people how to accept compliments. This kind of thinking is on my mind perpetuates the thought that as women we should really care what other people think about us. When have you seen a man complimenting another male on his tie choice? This archaic way of thinking needs to stop.
Women don't dress for anyone other than themselves, we don't put on make up to make us look more attractive to men and we certainly don't pick out a dress to fish for compliments.
When I look in the mirror to go out I ether love the way I look or I don't. Either is fine and I certainly don't need you or anyone trying to validate my existence by passing me a compliment. It's not kind, it's not nice and I certainly don't need to learn to accept your thoughts about me. This accept-a-compliment thinking is teaching young women everywhere that validation from the outside world is something you should seek and accept. Does that mean young women should also accept sexist comments or wolf-whistles because really it was just a compliment?
Tuesday, 24th of January is national compliment day and I urge you to not compliment another, don't be so shallow as to pass a fleeting comment on the colour of someone's dress or how good their make-up is. You are doing nothing for womankind or the person's self-esteem and sense of worth.
It seems to me that there are so many customs and rules we have in society that are never really questioned, things as women we think we should do. Things that are the acceptable norm and never really challenged. And maybe it is about time we started to challenge them.
If I want to know if I look good in a particular dress I will ask my husband and my daughter's opinion because what they think matters to me, but other than that no-one else's opinion matters to me at all and that doesn't make me narcissistic, heartless or rude, it just makes me honest.
Compliments do no-one any favours and are systemic of a sexist notion that women dress to look good for other people. If you really feel the need to tell someone how great they are, compliment them on something they have done, for instance the way they dealt with a difficult child. If you must, compliment me on who I am, not how I look.
So next time you feel the need to pass comment on my latest shoes or the way I have paired my earrings with my bracelet, don't.
I know I look OK and I don't need you to tell me.