17 Compliments That Are Actually Insulting When You Think of It

Sometimes we can receive a compliment in the moment, and it gives us a nice feeling, but after reflecting on it, we may view it differently and actually feel it’s insulting. Here are 17 compliments that are actually insulting when you think of it.

“You’ve lost weight!”

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According to EatingWell, “Even if you are intending it as a compliment, making a comment on someone’s weight loss is actually rude.” Although this statement can be a compliment, it can also come across as insulting to the person on the receiving end. It can be very damaging if that person struggles with eating disorders or their body image. 

“You look great for your age!”

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Saying to someone, “You look great for your age,” can often imply that people of that age are unattractive. It can reveal a negative outlook toward aging, which is something no one can control. It can also put pressure on the person to maintain a youthful appearance.

“You’re not like other [gender/race]!”

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This is in no way a compliment, but instead a stereotype. Saying you’re not like others can suggest that members of a particular group are flawed in some way. It can alienate a person from a group or their peers. It also doesn’t celebrate individuality in the positive light that it should.

“You clean up well!”

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Saying to someone, “You clean up well,” can often make them feel that they usually don’t look presentable. This can have a negative impact on their mental well-being. They may feel the need to constantly appear in a certain way to appeal to others and prevent judgment.

“You’re so brave for wearing that!”

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We should celebrate individuality and allow people to express themselves, especially when it’s through fashion. For example, Professor B. Padma on LinkedIn tells us, “Fashion allows people to showcase their unique style and preferences. Whether it’s through clothing, accessories, or hairstyles, individuals can express their personality and creativity.”

“I didn’t expect you to get the job!”

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Saying this to someone after receiving positive news can put a downer on their situation. It implies that you didn’t have any confidence in their capabilities. This can lead people to doubt themselves despite already proving they’re good enough by getting the job in the first place.

“You’re so good with computers for someone your age!”

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This is very negative, as it makes the assumption that people of a certain age can’t be good at computers. This will often reflect badly on you, as you’re reinforcing unnecessary stereotypes. Older people tend to have more experience using computers, so there’s no reason why they wouldn’t be good at them.

“You’re lucky to be so pretty!”

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Saying “You’re so lucky to be so pretty” is completely different from saying, ‘You’re so pretty.’ It implies that achievements in life may be due to their looks and appearance rather than their intelligence, hard work, or skills they’ve developed. It can also imply that being pretty equates to being a success.

“It’s amazing how you can handle so many kids!”

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This statement can suggest that it was a poor decision to have a certain number of children. It can come across as intruding on personal life choices and portraying having numerous children as a negative instead of celebrating the positives that come with having a large family.

“You speak English so well!”

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Saying to someone, “You speak English so well,” may be meant as a compliment, but it can be received differently. The BBC backs this up and says, “We still rank particular types of English higher than others, which means that both native and non-native speakers who differ from what’s considered ‘standard’ can find themselves judged.” 

“You’re not like other girls!”

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Although this can be seen as a compliment to the person you say it to, it can also be an insult and a stereotype of the female gender. It can make that person feel like they need to alienate themselves from other girls.

“You’ve done well for yourself considering your background!”

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This statement is an insult, as there is judgment on an individual’s personal history or upbringing. It can imply that people have low expectations due to someone’s socioeconomic background. It doesn’t credit people as individuals or celebrate them for their own hard work and success.

“You’re so independent for a woman!”

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“You’re so independent for a woman” implies that you don’t feel women are usually capable of being independent. This is a stereotype that shouldn’t be accepted in today’s world. It reinforces outdated views and gender roles, suggesting that women usually rely on others in life.

“You make it look so easy!”

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Saying to someone, “You make it look so easy,” may be meant as a compliment but may not be received that way. An individual may feel you’re undermining the hard work and skill that have gone into achieving what they have. It can also put pressure on them to feel like they always have to make it “look easy.”

“You’re stronger than you look!”

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Stating to someone that they’re stronger than they look can imply negative thoughts about their appearance. People can be body conscious and comments about their appearance shouldn’t be made. It also implies that you don’t believe in their ability, which can be demanding for the individual.

“I wish I could be like you and not care what anyone thinks!”

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This statement can be very hurtful and imply that the person is different from everyone else. It can also imply that the person has no consideration for other people’s feelings or opinions. This shouldn’t be said to anyone, as we don’t know what someone else thinks.

“You’ve got a good head on your shoulders for a young person!”

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Saying this to someone can imply that wisdom isn’t common among young people. According to Ageism, it can also be a form of reverse-ageism, which is when individuals are stereotyped because of their youth. It can also come across as saying that older people are wiser than younger generations.

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