‘You’re not half as fat as you look on the telly,’ used to be my favourite backhanded compliment when I worked on the box. It came back to me the other day when I read French First Lady Brigitte Macron’s assessment of Melania Trump: ‘She’s someone who has a strong personality, but works hard to hide it’. Honestly, I don’t think Brigitte was taking a jab at The Donald’s symmetrically pleasing, Tweet liking wife but you can’t help raise an eyebrow to that one.
Classic backhanded compliments include: ‘You look good in this light (practically pitch dark)’, ‘You’re a better kisser than your brother’ and ‘I don’t care what they say about you, you’re alright’. Classic responses include a smiling nod, followed by a perplexed ‘smell the fart’ look a la Joey from Friends.
What about? ‘You scrub up well’. Gee thanks. Nice to know I need three layers of false lashes, two applications of fake tan, 10 shades of contouring and one pair of sucky in, circulation blocking knickers for you to take notice. I’m honoured. Namaste.
Here’s former vice US Vice President Joe Biden on Barack Obama: ‘I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.’ Why didn’t he just start it with, I’m not racist but..?
‘You’re lucky,you’re fine and tall and can carry the weight,’ Sorry what weight? Here’s a shovel. Keep digging.
‘Fair play to you for going to Las Vegas with your friends. I couldn’t do it, would miss the kids too much’.
Lucky I have a heart of stone, comes in handy sometimes, especially when you’re betting the college fund on black on the roulette table. You win some, you lose some.
As a serial crop cutter of hair, the usual refrain is, ‘Don’t worry it will grow back’ or ‘Extensions are really good these days’.
Thank you, looking forward to not sending you a Christmas card this year. Bald patches are part of the look by the way.
My father had a great one, ‘You’re lucky, the telly likes you’. But do I like the telly Pops? That is the question.
More. ‘Your makeup is stunning’. Eh, what about the gremlin underneath?
‘That’s a lovely dress. Do they do it in small?’. Actually they do it in asshole, would fit you perfectly.
Here’s one I’m guilty of, telling Sophie White of the brilliant Mother of Pod podcast that she really doesn’t give a shit about her angles on Insta Stories.
I meant it in the best possible terms, in this age of FaceTune, filters and flattering light, up the nose shots are a rarity. Nope, just another backhanded compliment. And on we go, back-flipping into the abyss of barbed comments without meaning to insult. Or do we?