Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Minefield of Complimenting Beauty

What ever happened to giving and accepting compliments? MARRIED TO A KNOCKOUT wrote to Dear Abby:
Twice, while attending social functions, my wife and I met couples for the first time. On each of these occasions as we were saying goodbye, the husbands said to me, "Your wife is gorgeous."

Certainly, that’s better than "Does your wife play fetch?" Isn't it?
They said it in front of their wives, which surprised me.

Why? Isn't that better than doing it behind their wife's back? They're not saying, "My wife is ugly compared to your hot babe."
The first time it happened, I didn't know what to say.

How about, "Thanks. I blame her mother."?
The second time, I replied, "So is yours," even though the women weren't all that attractive.

Well, that was polite of you.
I'm wondering if their comments were appropriate, especially because they were made in the presence of their wives. I wasn't offended, just caught off-guard and felt uncomfortable for their wives.

It could just be compliments. I mean, would you feel this way if they told you that your wife was so sharp, or so nice? On the other hand, maybe they are swingers and are doing some early testing of your waters. If the next time they see you they say, "Won't you join is in the hot tub... for some drinks... and some wild sex" you'll know.

Dear Abby responded:
The comments those individuals made strike me as insensitive to the feelings of their wives because it invited a comparison which could have made the women feel uncomfortable.

I think you handled both situations gallantly.

Okay. Well, I don't recall putting anyone in that same position, but I don't see anything inherently wrong with the situation. Back in my bachelor days I would make a point of shaking a man's hand and telling him "way to go", nodding slyly towards his attractive wife or girlfriend. But that was usually a moment between just the two of us.

Recently, one sister-in-law was asking another who is getting into even better shape, and who is involved in the performing arts (no, not stripping or anything nude), if she is going to get breast implants. The question bummed out the second sister-in-law, and I wanted to tell her that there's nothing wrong with her body the way it is. I didn't say a thing, though, because I thought it my freak her out or upset my wife. I like my wife's body better, mind you, and I think about my wife and her body constantly, but there's nothing wrong with that sister-in-law’s body. When my wife and I were back home, I mentioned the situation and what I had thought. She didn’t seem like she would have been upset. Instead, the conversation diverted to the first sister-in-law who'd asked the question. She's so out of shape that it is clear she envies her sister's body and even said that if she could do one "simple" thing to have the perfect body, she would.

Anyway, when in doubt, it is best for a man, especially a husband, to stay silent. I can't help but think this is related to "sexual harassment" policies in the workplace and radical feminism, and in Christian circles, the concern that a man may possibly admire the female form, even if that form doesn't belong to his wife. Complimenting a woman's appearance is now a minefield. And make no mistake about it - when a man is told his wife is beautiful, it is also a compliment to the man. It says he has good taste and that he was capable of attracting a beautiful wife.

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