Sunday Question – Are We Allowed To Acknowledge Beauty Anymore?

There are a lot of attractive people in the world. Friday night my wife and I were at the mall, and you can see so many people who have dressed very nicely, taken care with their hair, and are absolutely stunning. Okay, for me it’s the women; for my wife, it’s the men, although she will acknowledge when a woman looks good. Yes, she’s confident like that. She will even go up to some women to compliment them about their looks.

As a guy, especially an older one, I can’t do that unless she’s next to me. Independently, if I did that I’d be labeled a pervert, dirty old man, or some other missive. This isn’t uncommon, by the way. If I dared to say anything nice to someone about their appearance on Twitter or Facebook, unless I knew them already, I’d either be ignored or someone would take offense.

Is seems that men aren’t allowed to acknowledge when we find someone attractive anymore. I have a friend who I was having a discussion with once who said that when she dresses nice she only wants certain men to tell her she looks good. I said if you dressed nice everyone would look, so how could she separate which ones should be allowed to say something to her or not. She stated something like “they should just know”; what is that? lol

You see a lot of attractive images of women on Twitter. Sure, half of them are fake; not fake women, but you know the account isn’t really owned by a woman, but by some guy who’s put the image of a woman on as his avatar hoping you’ll go ahead and add him so he can bombard you with sales stuff. It’s pretty easy to tell, yet I see many of my friends following these people, and I know it’s because of the image. We acknowledge that sex sells by falling for things like this.

But when it’s legitimate… look, I’m certainly not saying that the first conversation you have with someone on Twitter is talking about how they look. I’m not really even sure that it’s ever proper to say something like this to someone you’ve never said anything else to. Maybe there are times when one is allowed to do it, but those times seem so far and in between.

What are your thoughts? Are the days gone when one is allowed to acknowledge beauty (without being a pig), or do you see where one might be able to say something nice without being seen as a pervert?
 

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28 comments on “Sunday Question – Are We Allowed To Acknowledge Beauty Anymore?

  • Hi Mitch
    I saw a twitter conversation the other day you were having with a female blogger and she used endearing terms that are just her. She is an experienced and well-respected blogger and I thought how free she is to be able to just be herself and be friendly. I would say just be you and if you are with your wife and she is okay with it then just be you and be nice. Not enough people are. As a single older woman I don’t go telling guys how they look unless I know them very well. I watched a Jane Austen movie yesterday and thought how lovely the guys were with their manners and respect for women. Most of us like to be appreciated I reckon.
    Patricia Perth Australia

    • I always think people love being appreciated, but truthfully, I’ve always been cautious in how I address most ladies, probably from my management days when I had almost all women working for me.

  • John Dilbeck says:

    Good morning, Mitch.

    I don’t experience what you talk about.

    While I’m not a good looking guy, I recognize and enjoy beauty in others and I tell people when I think they’re looking good, both men and women.

    Sure, a few people may take offense, but they’re in the tiny minority.

    Most people that I know, both online and offline, enjoy being appreciated for their minds, for what they do, and for how they look.

    I’m about your age and I may be more of a flirt than you are (don’t really know), but I enjoy flirting with women of all ages and telling them how much I appreciate them. I rarely get put down for it.

    Maybe it’s different parts of the country or different perceptions, but I’ll be telling the good looking people that they’re looking good for as long as I can see and talk.

    All the best,

    JD

    • You never know, John. I’ve never been a flirt, but I’ve always appreciated beauty. When I was in college I could tell women how nice they looked and it was appreciated, but I was always considered the “safe one”; I wasn’t sure whether to be insulted or elated about that. lol But these days I don’t know people as well, or at least they don’t know me as well, so I keep things more to myself, especially on social media platforms.

  • I’m a bit shy myself, so I don’t tend to talk to people much less compliment them. On the flip side, I know how to take a compliment and just go with it. I don’t always believe it, but I just smile and say ‘thank you’. The problem seems to be many people think every compliment is a come-on, when it’s just acknowledging someone’s efforts and showing appreciation. I suppose if you feel comfortable giving a compliment, do so. But if you feel it will be taken the wrong way, then admire from afar and keep it to yourself. It’s really a crap shoot.

    • Well Anne, you know I did break out of the norm and complimented you on, what, your high school or college picture, and you still look like that, glasses and all. But then you put the image out there so it was appropriate to comment on it. In general, it’s not something I’d do often.

  • I don’t have any problem complimenting women if they look good. I’ve actually done it quite a few times on Twitter and FB when I’ve noticed their picture has changed and they look beautiful. That, to me, is called self-confidence in who I am as a woman–the same as your wife.

    I will compliment a man too. I normally say, “If I wasn’t so happily married, you would have my heart.” That normally makes them smile but they also know I said I’m HAPPILY MARRIED and I mean it.

    I do think there is a double standard for older men. I do think younger men can get away with the nice compliments for beautiful women but as you age, it starts sounded perverted and suspect–although that may not even be the case.

    In a woman’s case, they get the label of “cougars.”

    • Interesting point about the “older man” thing, Bev. What’s funny is that I keep getting the “I thought you were around 35” line, and I’m not quite sure I can believe that one; after all, my hair should be giving me away. But the thought inhibits me, so I have to admire from afar; I can deal with that. 🙂

  • hey Mitch, you are absolutely right. As a matter of fact there are what I think Hot Male bloggers that I follow and everytime I see them pop up in my timeline I wish I could say so but I think they would think that it’s inappropriate so I don’t. Outside of the internet, I notice women much more than men and I can appreciate the beauty of someone and have no problem complimenting someone’s wardrobe. It is a shame that when complimenting someone in certain environments makes it creepy compared to others. Maybe a certain situation I can understand but grocery store, park, mall? Who doesn’t like a compliment?

    • I appreciate the sentiment, Karen, and of course you’re one of those people whose image I commented on, in my sly way of course, when we first started talking on, I believe, BloggerLuv. But it wasn’t anything too overt; I’m sure you appreciated that. Always safer when my wife’s with me. 🙂

  • Althea Garner says:

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I don’t care what society says, it’s NOT offensive to compliment, but the delivery and the motivation are paramount.

    Body language says so much and when the motivation is perverted, this shows, no matter what gender or age it is coming from. The ‘I just want to jump your bones’ compliment always comes across as shallow and is easily detected, but the genuine compliment that comes from the heart without ulterior motive goes a long way to making the other person feel good about themselves.

    I frequently compliment people, especially in my office. Each and every person has that special something about them every day, that stands out, no matter how beautiful society thinks they are or how little dress sense they might have. It might be the guys cologne (to which I am allergic, BTW but it still smells good!) or the color dress a woman is wearing that brings out the tone of her complexion – the senior lady at the supermarket who has just had her hair done or the Veteran at the coffee shop that I simply thank for their service.

    It’s so easy to be young and beautiful and to brush compliments aside as expected or unwanted, but as one gets older, those compliments become less frequent, yet more appreciated.

    Mitch, don’t ever stop complimenting!
    🙂

    • Thanks Althea. Maybe it’s the generational thing where, as I get older, it seems that sometimes I feel more removed from things, but I try to be cautious to a degree. But I’ll keep on with the compliments.

  • Hey Mitch,
    Like John Dilbeck, I didn’t experienced situations where a woman would look at me strange for complimenting her, even online many of the women I complimented returned or were glad about it.

    I always liked to compliment others, I don’t know why but I just liked it. I can compliment my own friends everytime they look fine and they don’t seem weird about it.

    Maybe different cultures receive compliments from strangers in a different way. I can think of Japanese, I wouldn’t want to compliment one of their women, I think they would put me to commit sepukku or something…

    • Alex, if you don’t live in Japan you’d probably be safe. 🙂 And, just asking, but are you a younger guy?

  • Unfortunately world is going crazy and very rare people can recognize the real beauty. I don’t like the Barbie girls, I don’t like sugar daddies and I don’t like most of the new movies or the new singers. Everything is looking like it is made in China.

    • Carl, I’m not quite as bad as you; I just don’t know who most of the young people are to even care.

    • I’ve seen that story, Rummuser, and I truly believe that woman was discriminated against, though I’m not sure why it took them so long to make it so overt. And you get away with complimenting; you’re the man! 🙂

  • Rachel Lavern says:

    When one receives a compliment, I was taught to graciously accept it and “take it in.” A compliment should be a win-win for all involved. It takes so little and gives so much. Like your wife, I am bold enough to acknowledge another woman’s beauty and I think it gives us both a lift.

    Some women cannot accept a compliment from a man without either making fun of the compliment giver or thinking the compliment giver is flirting with them. There have been numerous times when men have paid me a compliment, I smiled at them graciously only to discover that my smile was an invitation to them to pursue me. Yes, it happens; however, I choose to assume that someone, male or female, is simply expressing kindness.

    Oh yes…it seems that some employers consider a man’s compliment to a woman as sexual harrassment. A male co-worker complimented my looks approximately three years ago, I thanked him, he elaborated, I innocently shared it with a female co-worker, she jokingly shared it with the VP and, before I knew it, the complimenter was called in by the HR Manager. There was no harm done or intended.

    • Rachel, in the workplace I never said a word because, as you stated, one never knew how those things would go. I kept my mouth shut, although every once in awhile I’d ask someone if an outfit they were wearing was new. I knew that was kind of expected, being the top guy, to notice changes in one’s employee in some fashion. It can be a delicate balance, for sure.

  • Interesting topic and post. I’m not a dirty old man, but at age 60 I still will find my eyes fixated on nicely shaped, well dressed, and pretty young ladies. Yes. I admit it. And I DO have ‘those kind’ of thoughts – hey, I’m not dead, hmm?

    Of course we’re only talking about ‘skin deep-‘ beauty here, there’s so much more to what makes a person truly a beautiful one than the outward package. But I will admit that when an attractive lady in her twenties, thirties or forties compliments me on being a ‘good looking’ elderly guy, well … I gain a couple inches in height and chest size, and there is a bit more spring in my step that day. Teehee …

    Love your blog, Mitch, I’ll have to stop in again!

    Marvin D Wilson

    • Thanks for your contribution, Marvin. Hey, there is no “too old”; remember that a Supreme Court justice once fathered a child at 88, I believe; he shouldn’t have, but he did. lol I will admire from afar, but I really try not to make anyone uncomfortable by saying something they might not be ready for, if you know what I mean.

      • I DO know what you mean, lol. And while I agree there IS no ‘too old’, I took a vow at age 40 that whoever carded me when purchasing adult beverages was gonna get a thank you kiss – man OR woman! Fortunately none of the male offenders ever accepted.(wink)

  • Ah, so this is the Sunday question. Mitch, as I read more of your articles, I realize in how many ways we are similar. I, too was that safe guy, all the way through college. Came from being skinny and hanging out with fraternity brothers who were on the football team. That – and the poetry I personally wrote for the ladies allowed me to indulge in the sheer delight of telling women just how beautiful they were.

    As Althea wrote, delivery and motivation were the keys. I was so socially backward, even after pledging, that no woman was threatened by me. I wanted to convey what she wanted to hear, but in that veiled mode of hidden ardor, where she has no choice but to say, “You’re deep…”. It was a craft that I believe I had perfected. It served me well in the workplace, as both men and women opened up to me (I made the guys feel special in other, manly ways.)

    I totally understand how you might have felt torn between elation and insulted (insulated?) because, sometimes, it really felt as if the woman responded as if she were being tended to by one of her eunuchs.

    As I get older, being married and all, the banked embers of ardor radiate solely toward my wife. I will admire the beauty of others but no longer feel compelled to share my thoughts directly. Indeed, I think that, subconsciously, I continue to exude a little heat, but with subtle gestures and inflections. I guess that is a fancy way of saying “flirt”, but I’ve always considered that a crass form of complimentary tango.

    Finally, Chris Rock comes to mind in reference to the young lady who remarked, “they should just know”. You ever hear him talk about what a woman knows within the first five minutes of meeting you? Whether men want to admit it or not, they too know the answer to that burning question – to ignore the signals is to be burnt to an ego-shriveling crisp.

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • Good stuff Mitch (I like saying that; sounds like I’m talking to myself lol). Yeah, always being the safe one has its ups and downs, but overall I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve noticed at the health club that you can tell someone you admire how they look based on their working out, and people like that. But you have to be truthful about it, which of course I always am. In general, though, it’s admire from afar and keep your mouth shut. I can live with that as well… for now. 😉

  • Hi Mitch,
    I guess it all really depends on how the person says it and the level of friendship before one says it. For example- I think some guys are good looking but would never tell them that because they would think I was coming onto them- which of course I wouldn’t be since I’m married and love my hubby. So I just keep my opinions to myself 😉
    Blessings,
    Eren

    • It’s an interesting process, isn’t it Eren? Everyone thinks there’s always ulterior motives, and that messes everything up.

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