Have you ever noticed how much girls compliment each other on our appearance? Ever since we were babies, people have commented on how we look. I’ve done it, too–we all have. At the store we see a little girl and gush about how adorable she is–her curls, her eyes, her ruffles. You meet up with a friend and they say, “Oh my gosh, you look amazing!” or “I love your lipstick!” And that’s not to say you don’t look amazing or your lipstick isn’t lovely. But who you are is way more than what you look like.
As Drs. Lindsey and Lexie Kite @beautyredefined have said, “You are capable of more than looking hot,” and, you are “More Than a Body.” Which also happens to be the title of their fantastic book.
Why should we share non-physical compliments?
When we focus on appearance, that sends the message that looks are all that matters. And we’re surrounded by that message; no matter where you look, it’s everywhere. But who people are, their identity, and their worth are not tied to whether or not others think they’re pretty. My friend Lauren @Lift.Period said, “How you look is the least interesting thing about you.” There is so much more to you, and others, that’s way more important, way more intriguing, way more exciting to talk about.
Why not compliment someone’s weight/size?
First: It may sound like a nice thing to say/hear, but your worth is not a number, a measurement, or a size. If that’s all people comment on, we get the message it’s the only way to get people to notice us, and get their approval or acceptance. That makes us rely on external validation, or can even lead to disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with our body. How will we feel when the physical compliments stop? People are icebergs and we don’t know all that’s going on, like health issues or other struggles that affect their weight or size. If they care to share, it’s their news. Otherwise, choose to compliment one of their countless wonderful non-physical aspects.
Are we to completely eliminate any compliments that are physical?
I imagine there will come a time that your friend has a new hairstyle or gets their braces off—should you completely ignore that? I think you can acknowledge it without focusing only on their appearance. For example, “Ohh that braid is so unique, how did you get it to twist like that?” Or “Yay, you got your braces off! Let’s celebrate and watch a movie tonight with popcorn and sticky candy!” I’m not suggesting we walk around with paper bags over our heads and never again remark on someone’s looks. But the ratio of physical vs. non-physical compliments is greatly lopsided. So let’s shift our focus to more than our bodies, more than how we look, more than being called pretty. Let’s explore non-physical compliments.
When you want to give someone a compliment, think about:
- What makes them unique and individual
- Their skills and abilities
- Their qualities and character traits
- How you feel when you’re with them
- How they make a difference
Now for some examples–you bet I have a printable poster for you!
50 Non-Physical Compliments for Teens + Tweens:
- Your enthusiasm is energizing!
- You see things with such a creative eye.
- I am glad we got to chat, you’re a great listener.
- You brighten my life.
- I admire how you include others.
- That’s cool you know so much about ___.
- You are crazy good at that!
- You sense people’s feelings.
- I really enjoy spending time with you.
- You are hilarious, I love laughing with you!
- Your passion for this is inspiring.
- You were on fire today–you set a personal record!
- You see the good in everyone.
- You fill my bucket when we’re together.
- You have great empathy for others.
- I admire how you assert yourself.
- You are a strong leader.
- I like that I can trust you to be real with me.
- I always look forward to seeing you!
- You bring out the best in others.
- I value your perspective.
- Great performance in the game/concert/show!
- You share wise advice.
- You put people at ease so they open up.
- You’re someone that people know they can count on.
- I like how you notice small details.
- You are dedicated to ___ and it shows.
- You face life fearlessly!
- You make me feel seen.
- You help others feel capable.
- I love how you’re authentically you.
- You put a ton of effort into that, great work!
- You show curiosity to understand others.
- I appreciate how supportive you are.
- You pick the most thoughtful gifts.
- I like how you express yourself through your style.
- I’m so proud of you!
- You make the best ___ .
- You are a genuine friend.
- People appreciate your helpfulness.
- I admire how you stay calm during confrontations.
- Your project turned out amazing!
- I respect how dedicated you are.
- I’m glad to know you’ve got my back.
- You are unstoppable!
- I look up to you.
- You make it look easy, but I know you’ve worked hard.
- I’m grateful you’ll listen without judgment.
- You’re so considerate, it means a lot.
- You leave people feeling better than before.
Remember, people are more than how they look–way more. And as you focus less on their appearance, you’ll get to know the real them better. And your friendship will be better, too.
To help you remember all of this, I created a “50 Non-Physical Compliments” poster for you to print out and post on your wall where you’ll see it, remember it, practice it, and believe it — that’s the important part.
And if you have a topic suggestion, I’d love to hear from you! Send an email (tweens get the OK from your parents) to [email protected] .
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