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The idea for SMARTIFUL grew out of a question: What is the best compliment a woman could hear?
Philip Galanes posed this question shortly after I had figured out the answer to the question- but I include his piece from the New York Times Social Q's column from February 18, 2016 because it illustrates perfectly the need for such a concept.
Sidewalk 'Complements' :
Occasionally, a guy in the street signals that he needs my attention. So I take off my earphones to hear what he has to say. He could be looking for directions in the big city. But usually, it’s, “Excuse me, I just have to tell you how attractive you are.” This annoys me, as if my purpose in life is to be pretty. I get that no one likes rejection. So “Go away” is not a polite response. But “Thank you” sends the wrong message. I am not thankful. These comments ruin my groove.
The bottom line for Galanes, and his reader and for me is that being called "hot" by a stranger isn't what we are really looking for.
Many readers will see no harm in a compliment, particularly from a guy who is sincere. But he is not complimenting anything Alyssa has made (her new app) or even anything she’s chosen (her super-cute bootees). He is reducing a whole person — and rarely a man — to her looks. And if a compliment makes you feel bad, how good can it be?