, 2015

Because You Are Polite…Let’s Talk Manners

by Ginger Philbrick

Recently I ran into a friend who I had not seen in about eight years. When she saw me she exclaimed, “I didn’t recognize you. You look so skinny!” I felt very offended, and still do.

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Ginger Philbrick
Am I being too sensitive? Shannon Ann, White Stone

Dear Shannon Ann,

It seems that we are so enamored of becoming lighter that we have shed some of our manners with our pounds.

Despite what much of today’s media would have us believe, it is still neither funny nor civil to say to another person whatever comes to mind about their appearance.

For example, the person who exclaimed she thinks you are skinny, most probably wanted to compliment you, not realizing that in actuality skinny has negative implications. In fact, a dictionary synonym is “emaciated.” But the harm was done the second the word left her mouth.

Choosing the right words is tough in a world that publicly uses the most casual and disrespectful terms for the human body and its God-created parts….and refers to those parts with far more frequency than previous generations. We are becoming dangerously desensitized to what used to be considered vulgar and disrespectful and, in my humble opinion, is often still so.

We can’t always be held responsible for how others receive our well-meaning comments, but we are wise to use our internal word-check before we remark on someone’s body image. The words “trim,” “svelte,” or simply “good” would have served far better in this instance.

And if you ever say to someone (with whom you want to continue a friendly relationship) that you didn’t recognize them, bite your tongue hard to make your words stop right there. There is very little you could say after “I didn’t recognize you” that couldn’t be taken as an insult of either their previous or current selves—except maybe, “I have cataracts.”

Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite….LLC. You are invited to e-mail your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at youarepolite1@verizon.net and visit her website at becauseyouarepolite.com. RSVP!

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