Myndi’s BEST OF: Backhanded Compliments


Welcome to Myndi’s Best Of...where I pick a topic, and we dish about the best (or worst, depending on how you look at it. Is your glass half-empty or half-full?) of said topic.

Sound fun? Yeah, I thought so, too.

So, let’s talk about the backhanded compliment. We’ve all had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of these bad boys, and whether we choose to laugh them off, or shoot a snarky comment back in the giver’s direction, it’s always fun to gab (or gripe) about them.

Here, I’ll start. This is a verbatim quote, from my grandmother, to me, and is my all-time ‘favorite’ (if I can be allowed to call it that) backhanded compliment.

“Oh, darling, you look so beautiful!” (This was said in a tone of utter shock.) “It’s amazing what make-up can do for a girl, isn’t it?”

At first I was all like,

And then I was all like,

And then later that night I crawled into bed and stared at the ceiling, thinking of all the things I should have said, like,


(Because even when the pressure’s off, I suck at making up good comebacks)

Until finally, I came to the conclusion that

So now it’s your turn. I want to hear your BEST and BRIGHTEST backhanded compliment, and of course, how you responded to it!





27 thoughts on “Myndi’s BEST OF: Backhanded Compliments

  1. Angela Brown says:

    I’ve gotten the “You look pretty for a big girl” compliment before. Didn’t really have a comeback as it came from a stranger. Just held the smile on my face as best I could and moved along. Or as they probably would have said, “Mooooved along” lol!!

  2. TeacherWriter says:

    I’ve had so many backhanded compliments that it’s hard to choose. Not long ago, I had gone to my hairstylist, (which I do about every eight weeks, believe it or not,) and the next morning at school, a student,looked at me with big eyes and asked, “Is it picture day?”

    Yeah. Because I never even comb my hair when it’s not picture day, right?

    Or the day a student said to me, “You really like that red sweater, don’t you?”

    That night, the red sweater, (which I really did like,) went in the give away box.

    Kids are experts at the backhanded compliments, and they don’t even know it!

  3. Samantha Warren says:

    The one that sticks with me the most came from my mother recently about one of my books, a YA fantasy.

    “It was so gory, I had to put it down… (long pause) But it’s good, though.”

    “Um, thanks?” Yeah, I’m the comeback queen.

  4. Sherry Isaac says:

    Not only can I not think of a comeback when the backhand sting is still strong, I’m running a blank on coming up with the zingers I’ve received… and receive I have, plenty. Can I check back in a month when the memory kicks in?

    • Myndi stray sock away from insanity. says:

      Hahahaha! Absolutely. And I’m in the same boat as you – I’m NEVER EVER able to come up with comebacks. Like, ever. Even after the fact my comebacks are weak. Something along the lines of, “Well,” (long awkward pause – and yes, it’s awkward even though it’s just me thinking to myself) “Well…you suck!”

  5. Sherry Isaac says:

    Oh oh oh! I’ve got one. I chose not to wear white at my wedding – very few complexions can pull off brilliant white, and I am not one of them. My gown was a soft champagne colour with ivory accents.

    Backhanded compliment:

    “You glow in the ivory. Good thing you gave up your right to wear white a long time ago.”

  6. Gina Duffy says:

    When I was overweight, I received the, “you have such a pretty face” all of the time. This one isn’t back-handed but worth a share. When we lived in Japan,Pat and I were boarding a train. A fellow American with kids politely told his kids to let the pregnant lady go first. Wasn’t even a little bit preggers. Needless to say I was mortified and it took all that was in me to not start crying. That was the event the motivated me to stay on a path of good health and physical fitness, though I can still throw down a pint of Ben and Jerry’s if given the opportunity. 🙂

  7. Jenny Hansen says:

    Growing up in Southern California and attending college in Missouri, I was shocked at how HOT I was. In California, I needed to lose 15 pounds. In Missouri, I was “just right.”

    I will never forget returning to California a few years later to work for the summer and having a really hot guy at the restaurant where I worked assure me: “You could be TOTALLY HOT if you just dropped 15 pounds. You’ve got great legs.”

    Oooof! I think I just said, “I’ll take it under advisement” before I slinked off. It was a relief to get off the plane in Missouri and pick up my former “hotness” at the airport.

  8. Emma Burcart says:

    I actually had one happen yesterday at the gym. A coach who left shortly after I joined was back visiting and told me how great I looked. He said I looked strong and pointed out all the areas where I’d gotten smaller and toned, like my thighs, stomach, and legs. Then he said, “And a big butt can be strong, it’s a good thing.” He saw the look on my face and started back-peddling and saying how there are different types of big butts, and big and round is good, so I have the good kind of big butt. I didn’t say anything back, mostly because I know I have a big butt and I’ve been hearing it for my whole life. But, when he walked away one of my friends said, “Don’t men know they should never tell a woman anything about her butt?” Exactly!

  9. Kristy K. James...Where Romance and Fantasy Collide says:

    I’m still giggling over “You really like that red sweater, don’t you?” No, I don’t know why….it just struck me as hilarious. So did the video of the little girl shaking the brush.

    My son is quite skilled at giving backhanded compliments. I like to say it’s because he’s autistic, but I think it’s just because he’s a member of the male species.

    The only one that comes immediately to mind is when I made wet burritos a couple of years ago. I hadn’t made them in quite some time, and his memory, while great for some subjects, sucks for others. He was adamant that I couldn’t make wet burritos, that only ‘restaurants’ could. Once he chewed and swallowed his first bite, he looked totally stunned…and said with awe in his voice…”Hey, these taste just like real wet burritos!” He totally expected to eat garbage for supper. After all, moms can’t cook like restaurants can. 🙂

  10. Debra Kristi says:

    Now that my comment has been sitting here waiting for me to finish it for how long? I think it’s time I show some follow through. Here we go… My thoughts mirror Sherry right now. I’m having trouble thinking of one. Although, my mind keeps gravitating to my grandmother and the time she called me handsome. I was young at the time and all I could think of was I’d just been compared to a boy. I knew she loved me and I understand it was a generational thing, even then, she didn’t see fit to call me pretty, I was handsome. Ever since that day I have never thought of myself as pretty. So, there you go. Probably not what you were looking for. I had no comeback. I never do, until several hours later. My brain is sluggish on the return. D’oh!

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