Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hairdo Comment Should Be Brushed Off

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hairdo Comment Should Be Brushed Off

Article excerpt

Dear Miss Manners: My co-worker commented on my haircut, saying, "Oh, look, Theresa cut her hair. It looks really nice."

I did not have a new style - my hair was just considerably shorter. As I was not comfortable with my new look, I found her comment unnerving and questioned her sincerity.

Should one announce that another has cut her hair, or is it better to remain silent and pretend not to notice any difference? If one does comment, what is the most appropriate thing to say?

Gentle Reader: "It looks really nice."

Mind you, Miss Manners is not endorsing the idea of announcing physical changes in other people. The workplace, especially, is plagued by those who go around monitoring personal appearances: "Are you putting on weight?" "Another new outfit!" "Gee, you look terrible. What's the matter?" "You've dyed your hair!" and so on.

Even compliments can be disastrous, as has to be explained to many a male worker who imagines the female workforce is delighted to be told how well it fills out its sweaters. Or to anyone who has assumed that weight loss is always a matter for congratulations, without considering that it can be a frightening symptom of serious disease.

So why is Miss Manners not taking up the cudgel on your behalf? Why isn't she quivering with indignation against your co-worker, and alarm at your being unnerved?

Well, because it was such an offhand, innocuous, obviously well-meant comment. It may even have been prompted by the desire not to allow you to think that silence about the change meant that your haircut was so awful that the less said about it, the better.

It is wrong to scrutinize people for changes they might prefer to let pass, but Miss Manners is afraid it is even more wrong to examine their trivial remarks for lurking insults.

*****

Dear Miss Manners: One of my co-workers approached me with the information that she and her fiance were having a "Stag and Doe" prior to their marriage, and inquired as to whether I would like to purchase a ticket for a certain sum to attend. …

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