Monday, October 14, 2013

"You Look Good"

One of the first things women often say to each other when they meet is, "You look good."

It's so common, you've probably never thought about it.

But isn't it kind of strange, that the default pleasantry is to praise a woman's appearance?

I've even found myself doing it, though that messes up the standard response, "Thanks, you look good too."

Men don't great each other that way.  Can you imagine it?  "Dude, you look really sexy!"

I can't even think of an analog.  Men don't start conversations by praising each other.  It's more like, "What's up," or if it's a really emotional reunion after one of them has escaped after 10
years being tortured in an enemy prison camp, "It's good to see you."

I wonder if it's an American thing; how do women in more egalitarian societies like Sweden greet each other?


Lindsey said...

Yes, I've definitely noticed this. And I HATE IT. I've also observed that it's rarely true: I know people who just say that no matter what the person looks like, which is reflective in my opinion of some deep-seated belief that a woman's value has something essential to do with how she looks. Yuck!

Isabelle said...

As a Swede and a woman, I'd probably greet friends with a "Hej!" or "Hej hej!", regardless of sex.

To me, "You look good" sounds like "How do you do" - more of a standardized greeting than something that you necessarily mean. Of course we still exchange compliments! But not as a generic greeting. I can only think of Swedish corresponding phrases that feel outdated or are actual questions.

If a friend would tell me "You look good" in Swedish when meeting me, I would assume either a) she was actually giving me a compliment, or b) I had been ill before and was better now.

However, I can't say if it is a matter of Sweden being more egalitarian rather than something that can be attributed to language differences.

Chris said...


Thanks for chiming in. As parents of daughters, I think we both struggle with the fact that our girls are often praised for being cute. I'd much rather they be praised for being aggressive or hard-working.


Thanks for contributing the Swedish perspective. It does sound like things are different in your country, though as you point out, it might have to do with language differences.

I guess the follow up would be to ask whether men greet each other the same way.