Should “Do I look alright” be met with an honest answer?
Here’s a true story: when I was a teenager, I woke up to an enormous zit on my forehead. Well, I’m sure I had plenty of enormous zits, but this one was particularly red, angry-looking and with a wider-than normal surface area. Upon seeing me, my mother – my own mother! – exclaimed, “Would you look at that bloody enormous zit!” I resented her enough for it that I remember it 15 years later, and am now putting her dubious parenting skills in print.
I’ll get to the point. Beyond hiding in a dark room, there wasn’t much I could do about that zit, and as such, there was no reason to point out the angry red elephant in the room, or should we say, on my forehead.
But a bad outfit is a whole different story. We choose to put on clothes. And we can choose to take them off. It doesn’t take very long either, unless your friend is permanently wrapped in a latex bodysuit (in which case, you should definitely be having a word).
And as for a friend’s “feelings,” let it be known that how we present ourselves to the world is important. You probably agree, because you’re reading this blog. If your friend is dressed up like a bimbo, bore or lunatic and you let her go about her daily life like that, then there’s every chance she won’t get that job, the man of her dreams or respect from the cruel world that we live in. You’re doing her a favor.
For me, there is no question about it: if you can’t tell your friend she looks like a sad sack of awfulness, then you’re no friend at all.
A friend once began wearing gold chains around his eyeglass to keep them from falling off, like an elderly grandmother might. At first I thought it was painfully unfashionable and contemplated whether I should flush the chains down the toilet when he wasn’t looking. But he kept wearing them as though it was the statement of the year. He thought he looked good. Within a couple weeks, I realized it was actually a bold choice, reflective of both his fondness for practicality and eccentricity. I suddenly felt free to take my own chances too. Why not wear a bathing suit as a blouse, or silk pajamas as a sweater?
At the end of the day, looking good isn’t about looking good. It’s about confidence. You can be a Ukrainian supermodel on vacation in Lake Como, but if you think you look like garbage, you won’t look great either. Conversely, you can have unconventional looks or style, but if you feel comfortable in your own skin, the world will soon adjust to embrace you. In refusing to bend to society’s rigid tastes, you’ve done mankind a great service. You’ve expanded what it means to be beautiful. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself when I wear a bikini in public.
That’s why it’s your job to make your friends think they look good all the time, even if they don’t: because eventually, they’ll believe it. This is true whether the topic in question is something natural (“Does my nose look to big?”) or something changeable (“Do I look fat in these pants?”). Be supportive. Lie – until it’s the truth.