Things You Should Never Say About Someone’s Appearance

Things You Should Never Say About Someone’s Appearance

Words can hurt, and when it comes to commenting on someone’s appearance, it’s easy to slip up and say something insensitive, even with good intentions. Before you speak, consider how your words might land. Choose kindness and stop all the commentary on bodies, faces, and fashion choices. Here are things you should never say to someone about the way they look.

1. “You’ve gained weight.”

Whether the weight gain is obvious or not, it’s just plain rude to comment on anyone’s body, Cosmopolitan points out. You never know if someone is dealing with a medical condition, stress, or a change in metabolism. Weight is a sensitive issue, and this comment can be hurtful and unnecessary. Plus, chances are they are well aware of any bodily changes and probably don’t need you pointing it out.

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2. “You’ve lost a ton of weight!”

What sounds like a compliment can be loaded! This could suggest the person looked unhealthy before, or maybe you are subtly hinting that they needed to lose weight. Even with good intentions, it’s best to avoid commenting on someone’s weight loss. If you must say something, try a more general observation like, “You’re looking really well!” If they mention that they’ve been working hard on fitness or changing their eating habits, you can certainly offer a compliment. However, avoid unsolicited remarks.

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3. “You look so tired.”

woman trying to make a serious face

Oof, this one hurts. It usually translates to “you look rough.” Whether someone’s been burning the candle at both ends or dealing with sleepless nights, this comment adds nothing positive to the conversation. If you’re genuinely concerned, try asking, “Is everything okay?” or “You seem a little down, do you want to talk about anything?”

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4. “Did you get a haircut?”

Asking this question, especially if the haircut isn’t great, puts the person on the spot. They might feel embarrassed or obligated to say they like it, even if they don’t. Sometimes, it’s better to stay silent about a new hairdo unless you genuinely think it looks fantastic. However, if the haircut really does look awesome, go ahead and say it. Genuine compliments can really brighten up people’s day.

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5. “Wow, you’re breaking out!”

two friends walking outside in city

Pointing out someone’s acne is just plain mean. They’re probably aware of their skin issues and might be feeling super self-conscious about it. Instead of highlighting their blemishes, try changing the subject and focusing on something else. Remember, a simple act of kindness can go a long way when someone is feeling particularly insecure about something.

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6. “You’d be so much prettier if you smiled more.”

Don’t tell people how to feel or express themselves. This statement implies there’s something wrong with their resting face, and a smile is the only way to “fix” it. Let people be themselves, smiles or not! Besides, who knows what they’re going through that might prevent them from feeling like smiling at that moment.

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7. “Your natural hair color is so much better.”

Whether they’re rocking vibrant purple streaks or covering gray, a comment about someone’s hair color is about your preference, not necessarily a helpful observation. People dye their hair for many reasons; respect their right to express themselves as they please. Maybe they even prefer their dyed hair to their natural color – you’ll never know by making unnecessary comments!

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8. “I really loved how you looked before.”

Business colleagues having a conversation. They are both young business people casually dressed in a bright office. Could be an interview or consultant working with a client. She is listening and smiling One person has his back to us. He has a beard and both are casually dressed.

This is definitely a backhanded compliment. It suggests the person looks worse now. Even if you preferred their previous style, keep that thought to yourself and let them live their best, most authentic life. There could be a whole personal story behind their change in appearance that you’re simply unaware of.

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9. “You shouldn’t wear clothes like that.”

Who are you to police someone’s wardrobe? People should express themselves through fashion however they feel comfortable. Unless a dress code is violated, let people be! Instead of criticizing someone’s style choices, try to see the confidence in their expression. Maybe you’ll even find yourself inspired by their fashion fearlessness.

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10. “You look so exotic.”

This seemingly harmless comment is loaded. It can come across as othering or fetishizing. Unless you know someone’s ethnicity, and they’re comfortable discussing it, it’s best not to make assumptions about their background based on how they look. If you’re genuinely curious about someone’s heritage, it’s always best to ask respectfully if they’re open to sharing that information.

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11. “You’re too short/tall.”

Really? Someone’s height is just a fact, like their eye color. Commenting on it is pointless and highlights something the person cannot change. Focus on their other great qualities instead. We all come in diverse shapes and sizes, and focusing on superficial things like height does nothing to add value to a conversation.

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12. “For your age, you look amazing.”

It’s okay to give someone a genuine compliment, but the “for your age” qualifier undermines it. As Allure notes, aging is natural, and we don’t need to act surprised when someone looks good as they get older! You could try something like, “You look fantastic!” and leave it at that.

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13. “You’d be prettier if you lost a little weight.”

Ouch! This one stings on multiple levels. It ties beauty to thinness and outright criticizes the person’s body. Don’t give unsolicited suggestions about someone’s appearance. Everyone has their own body image journey, and making comments like this can be emotionally damaging.

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14. “Are those your real teeth?”

Nope, so rude! Whether someone’s teeth are natural, whitened, or fixed with dental work, it’s no one’s business but their own. Keep intrusive questions like this to yourself. Our dental health and cosmetic choices are personal, just leave it be.

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15. “Have you considered braces?”

Similar to comments about teeth, don’t suggest orthodontic work. Finances, pain tolerance, or simply personal preference might drive someone’s dental choices, and that’s okay! If you’re concerned about the person’s oral health, it’s best to keep your concerns to yourself unless they specifically ask for your opinion.

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16. “You look just like…”

Comparisons, even when seemingly well-intentioned, can be tricky. Maybe the person doesn’t see the resemblance, or finds the other person unattractive. Keep any comparisons private. Unless it’s a celebrity look-alike with positive connotations, a comparison comment is probably best left unsaid.

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Originally from Australia, Emma Mills graduated from the University of Queensland with a dual degree in Philosophy and Applied Linguistics before moving to Los Angeles to become a professional matchmaker (a bit of a shift, obviously). Since 2015, she has helped more than 150 people find lasting love and remains passionate about bringing amazing singletons together.

Emma is also the author of the upcoming Hachette publication, "Off the Beaten Track: Finding Lasting Love in the Least Likely of Places," due out in January 2025.