You’re pretty funny for a girl.
You’re pretty tall for an Asian girl.
You’re pretty outspoken for an Asian girl.
You’re pretty for a doctor.
You’re pretty for an Asian.
I’m never sure how to respond to such statements. Usually I just bite my tongue and say thanks with a tiny pinch of sarcasm thrown in. Unless I am slightly inebriated, in which case: good luck to you, sir.
I dated a guy in college who told me that while I wasn’t the prettiest girl he could date, he picked me anyway because I was the “best overall.” As he told me this, his face lit up excitedly like a Golden Retriever puppy, as though I would be equally excited to hear this.
My most recent ex confessed to me one day (looking back, it was the beginnings of the end) that he had really been looking to date someone 5-8 years younger than me (presumably because of my waning window of fertility) but that because I was “super awesome” (he speaks surfer) he thought what-the-hell and decided to be with me anyway. Actually, what he said, verbatim:
Ex: But because you are super awesome, I thought I’d snatch you up…or you might not get the chance!!! (referring to my chances of procreating)
I did not see that coming. Silly me, I had expected, oh, I don’t know, something to the tune of: “…I thought I’d snatch you up…before someone else did!!!” In the moment, I had no response because I was sort of dumbfounded. The next day, however, I couldn’t shake the feeling that on some level, he really did feel he was doing me a favor. That’s not a great feeling.
I don’t like to generalize, but these types of compliments are almost always from men. I know that they don’t mean any harm, but the extent to which they think a lady would be thrilled to hear these declarations might actually be more disappointing (watch this video). Ladies, for example, do not give backhanded compliments accidentally—when they are handed out, it’s usually with claws out, hoops off, and a side of death stare. You know where you stand. (“OMG! Love your bangs. They totally make your face look smaller!!!”)
My advice? If you are about to compliment a lady (or anyone for that matter) but your compliment contains a clause of any sort…just keep it to yourself. Because I’d rather be “average in general” than be “best of the…meh.” Nor do I feel like deciphering what your comment really says about you or about me.
Besides, if I really need an ego boost, I can call up my mom or my BFF to hear them tell me the truth: that I am super awesome :)