Ever receive a compliment from someone that seemed more like a camouflaged insult? Backhanded compliments or “compisults” as I like to call them can be very damaging, especially if you receive them as a young child!
I remember being a little whippper snapper and my next door neighbour saying to me: “Oh aren’t you a lovely big girsha with a lovely, big, round face!” before giving me a lollipop. I remember walking away slowly, thinking “but I don’t want to be big or have a big roundy face??………………………..MAMMY???”
I also recall the time when the lawnmower-repair man said to my father, “Ahhh she has a wee turn in her eye just like our Mary!” causing me to immediately ask my mother when I got home was I cross-eyed to which she replied, “No, no, we got that checked out, the doctor said it’ll sort itself out in time”. The trauma of then believing that I was totally cock eyed! Years of my childhood wasted from looking at my eye balls in the mirror – all because of that man!
One time we were going to my cousin’s wedding and my mother dressed me up in a hideous floral dress with a matching white wicker hat. I looked like something out of Pride and Prejudice. She told me I was beautiful and I really did think the same until my older cousin said “Awww, I love your outfit, I remember the time when those sort of clothes were in fashion….so cute!” Nasty!
Recently I have once again been at the receiving end of some insulting compliments but this time it has been even more difficult to brand them as “compisults” as they have been delivered by people to whom English is not their first language. As a result of the language barrier, you really can’t be sure whether the person actually meant what they said in a flattering or offensive manner.
My eyes are a bit weird, they are a greenish colour but when it’s sunny (which in Ireland is hardly ever) they can appear a bit yellow in the light. A lovely Polish girl that I work with approached me the other day and said “De-de you have eyes like vampire, you should be in vampire movie!” She laughed and smiled as if she had just told me that I looked like Cameron Diaz, all the while I was thinking “B*TCH JUST CALLED ME DRACULA!”
To make it worse she then called over her Polish friend and said “Look at De-de’s lovely vampire eye balls”, to which the friend gasped and said “Ohhh so scary! Wow!” They were smiling in a genuine fashion and I gathered that they sincerely meant comparing me to a big vampire as a compliment. So all I could do was thank them really!
What’s the worst backhanded compliment you’ve ever received?