“Yes, Your Bum Looks Big in That” – My Thoughts on Brutal Honesty

"Yes, Your Bum Looks Big in That" - My Thoughts on Brutal Honesty | Not Dressed As Lamb

Well, I’m just being honest.” Five words that make red mist rise up in me.

[Reading time: 4 minutes]

Something I’ve wanted to get off my chest for years here on the blog are my thoughts on brutal honesty. Especially the type of honesty that’s paraded like a badge of honour, when the person proudly announces how they’ll always be upfront and honest, and will always tell you exactly what they think. The type that WOULD tell you your bum looks big in that.

You know what? When I hear that it makes me wince. I don’t want to know people like that. I don’t want friends like that.

Because if someone doesn’t have the decency to have any sort of sensitivity towards other people and their feelings, then that’s someone I can do without in my life, thank you very much.

 

The “I’m just being honest” things people say

I won’t be getting into the perils of social media here, as we all know how there are a hateful few that spoil it for the rest of us. Those that hide behind keyboards and write vile and disgusting comments are a breed of their own; they’re unfortunately the inevitable, super crappy sideshow that happened as a result of the incredible invention that was social media (and the internet in general).

No, I’m talking about those people In Real Life who are proud to be the honest types. The ones that “never lie“. The ones whose flippant, honest remarks to someone they know (and often love, whether that be friend, family member or partner) stick like glue for the rest of that person’s life.

And, in many sad cases, affect people’s entire lives and the way they view themselves. All because of one tactless comment.

I know, because I’ve had a few choice things said to me in the past – and I’ve NEVER forgotten them. They were thoughtless at best, damaging at worst. Luckily I’m not the sort of person who has ever allowed others’ opinions of her to affect her too greatly (as anyone who reads the blog will know I Do. Not. Care. if others don’t like what I’m wearing #iwillwearwhatilike), but it hasn’t meant I’ve forgotten what they said.

I doubt there’s a single person reading this who hasn’t had someone at some point say something unkind to them under the guise of “just being honest”. And was the comment absolutely necessary? Was it some sort of ultimately beneficial critique? I doubt it.

As a few examples, these are all things I’ve either had said to me, or I’ve been present when they’ve been said to someone else, often in front of others (I promise they’re all true):

 

Don’t stand like that, your belly makes you look pregnant.

Why are you still working at that job? Don’t you want to do something with your life?

You know that fringe doesn’t suit you, don’t you? I much preferred your hair before.

I didn’t recognise you, you’ve put on so much weight!

Those shoes are awful, you couldn’t pay me to wear them.

Why don’t you have children? Are you firing blanks or something?

Wow, that’s a huge spot you’ve got right in the middle of your face.

I don’t remember you being this skinny before?

 

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Do any of these sorts of comments ring true with you? I’m so sorry if they do, because nobody deserves comments like that. None of these opinions were asked for at the time – they were all just given out for free.

I won’t say which were said to me, or who they were said to, or who they were said by. All I’ll say is, they were ALL said by someone I loved/I thought was a friend, to someone I loved/a friend/me. And in each circumstance, I’ve never forgiven the person for saying the things they said.

Brutal honesty is not kind.

Brutal honesty doesn’t serve any purpose.

Brutal honesty is just an excuse for having a total lack of sensitivity, for being too selfish to see that you’re hurting someone else just because you are INCAPABLE of keeping every single one of your opinions to yourself.

The key thing is this: people’s choices – their appearance, clothing, lifestyle, careers, etc. – are none of other people’s business. I don’t care whether it’s your mother, father, best friend, sister, aunt, work colleague or partner. NO ONE has the right to express unsolicited opinions with the excuse that they’re “just being honest!“, as if the insistence of blurting out every thought that comes into their head makes it okay.

Making someone feel like utter crap is not okay. Throwaway, “honest” comments like these can stick in people’s heads for years and years. Take the comments above as examples; some of them weren’t even said to me, but I still remember them clearly (up to 25 years later). Just imagine being the person on the receiving end.

I’ve been in situations when I’ve seen someone I know and they’re wearing something or had a haircut (or even something more permanent) that I don’t think looks good on them or that I didn’t personally like. I didn’t have any right to tell them that, however, and I wouldn’t have dreamt of saying anything to them at all anyway. Loved ones of mine have made decisions or done things that wouldn’t have been my choice, but why do they HAVE to know that?

They don’t. My opinions are not theirs to know, nor mine to tell.

The worst times I see this are in those Say Yes to the Dress type of shows on TV, where the bride-to-be takes an “entourage” [eye roll] to her appointment because she wants honest opinions. (And boy, do they get them!) If I were getting married and having to choose a wedding dress now, I wouldn’t give a flying f*** what anyone else thought about my dress, except maybe my husband. And even then what I want to wear (because I feel a million dollars in it) would still override anything I think he would want me to wear.

Because if you’re going to marry someone, you’d better be marrying someone who allows you to make your own choices about what you want to wear. Because if you’ll be constantly criticised for something as basic as what you put on in the morning, where on earth will the criticism stop?

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How I deal with being asked for my opinion

You might be wondering how I approach the tricky situation of actually being asked my opinion about someone’s hair/life choices/outfit, etc. when it’s not my cup of tea. It depends on the situation, and how I’m being asked.

If you’re being shown something enthusiastically by someone because they love it and they then ask what you think, that’s the time to be pragmatic – by that I mean “pragmatically considerate”. I will always, always put that other person’s feelings before my own. If they love it, who really cares what I think? All they’re looking for is validation. I’ll simply answer tactfully – in a way that leaves them still happy – and NEVER let on that I don’t like it. If it means a little white lie, then I’m okay with that. My little white lies are nowhere near as harmful as brutal honesty can be.

I love seeing enthusiasm in people, and if someone is made happy by something that’s not for me, then so what? I’m just crazy happy for them.

Never will I be the rain on someone else’s parade.

What are your thoughts on those people who offer up brutal honesty IRL every time (solicited or otherwise)? Tell me in the comments…

XOXO

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73 Comments

  1. Hilary
    February 26, 2020 / 8:56 pm

    I love this post. I completely agree with you. Being honest should never be used as an excuse for being unkind, or worse, just plain mean. I have said “you look fabulous!” to people, even people I don’t know. I remember being with my daughter at the National Gallery shop and I told the clerk I loved her outfit and her face lit up. My daughter later pointed out that I had made her (the clerk’s) day and I told my daughter that it costs nothing to say something nice to someone and that the girl had obviously taken a lot of time and effort to look nice, so why not tell her! Ironically, unlike her sister, she never makes a negative comment about what I’m wearing! Her sister (and my husband) frequently makes negative comments about something I’m wearing (full disclosure, they also make nice comments, but they seem fewer somehow!) and it really bothers me. I find myself often biting my tongue because I have a sudden urge to retaliate, but instead count to ten and fight back the urge to say something!

  2. Kala
    February 21, 2020 / 7:02 am

    Well written, well said…
    Different People, Different Minds!!

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 21, 2020 / 9:52 pm

      thank you Kala 🙂

  3. February 11, 2020 / 1:45 pm

    What a thought provoking post. Very well written and lots to think about. Though comments like this would definitely hurt me even as an adult, I worry about things like social media and a lack of responsibility with words for my growing children. Hateful, hurtful and nasty comments, that are NOBODY’S business to tell are a teen girls worst nightmare. As a mom, I worry about how things like this can influence and alter my own children lives. I love the line, “My opinions are not theirs to know, nor mine to tell.” Keep it to yourself. If it’s not to encourage or celebrate, just lay off. Great post.

  4. Sandra
    February 2, 2020 / 3:43 pm

    Hi Catherine! I follow your blog for some time and this post was one of the best I’ve read.
    You see, I’m a brutal honest person trying very hard not to hurt anybody feelings. Every time someone asks for my opinion my default reaction is “if you’re asking is because you really want the truth”. And this is because, when I ask for someone opinion is because I really want to see the matter from their perspective. Even if it is a dress I think it’s awesome – when I ask, I really want to know what the other person think. Otherwise, I don’t ask.
    It’s very hard and sometimes, in matters more important than clothes, my opinions just go out of my mouth before I can think and this makes me sad, because even my friends sometimes don’t really want to see the matter from another angle.
    Sometimes I think this is why it is hard for me to find and keep new friends… Although you can be sure that when I’m your friend, I’ll be your friend for the rest of your life no matter what.
    So thank you for this post and for showing me why it is important to keep trying to be nicer to others and not always be so brutally honest! 🙂

    • Catherine
      Author
      February 2, 2020 / 5:40 pm

      Thank you for your very kind and honest (for want of a better word 😉 ) comment, Sandra! I tend to err on the side of “people often don’t say what they really mean”, so when people ask for an honest answer, they tend to be asking for validation, not a literal, blunt opinion. I’ve watched quite a few of those wedding dresses shows where the bride says she wants an honest opinion from her friends/sister/mum etc., but when she actually gets the truth (as it is in their eyes) then they get upset. I know that’s a contradiction – and one could say “well why ask for honest opinions then” – but in my experience no one REALLY wants to be told they “look really fat in that dress”, which is the sort of thing I’ve seen many brides being unkindly told by a loved one. It’s that sort of brutality that gets my goat.

      (I think I must have watched a particularly horrific episode of Say Yes to the Dress to be inspired to write this blog post!)

      Anyway it’s nice to know you’re thinking about this more, if you’re aware of it as you say you are then I don’t think you’re as unkind as you suggest… just being conscious of how your honesty comes out is a thousand times better than being proud of being brutal (no matter the consequences) as I described…!

  5. Abby
    January 29, 2020 / 11:28 pm

    Well said! I attended a college where any lie was severely punished, “We do not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.” Even then, there was exception made for situations in which honesty would be needlessly cruel. For centuries, those who bore the name of our alma mater had a reputation for having class. Yes, we have the highest standards of honesty but we also have the highest standards of decency. We grew to fear ever tarnishing those standards. It has been a lifelong pleasure and a lifelong challenge to live with people of those standards.

    So I think of three questions before saying anything, “Is it true? Is is kind? Is it necessary?” As I grew older, I added a fourth question, “Is it really any of my business?” By acting like I have class even when I felt nearly bankrupt of it, I made life better for myself and those I love. Thank you for saying what you did. As my landlady, a beautiful Nepali soul, hung a sign in my furnished flat, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 31, 2020 / 3:35 pm

      Sounds like a very decent college with great morals, Abby! And your 3 questions to ask yourself are inspired. If only EVERYONE thought of those things before opening their mouths…

  6. Renee
    January 28, 2020 / 8:05 pm

    Well, if you are deciding what to wear or buy and you ask me if your bum looks big in something, I will assume you are asking for an honest assessment and tell you. If you come running up in a new dress and give a happy twirl and ask what I think, I will tell you you look radiant, because undoubtedly you are so happy that you do. I will also pull you aside and tell you if you have lipstick on your teeth, your mascara is smeared, your tag is sticking out, or you have lint on your bum, because I would hope someone would do that for me. If I hate your outfit I will keep it to myself unless directly asked, and then I will probably just say, “it’s not my thing, but go you.”

    Also, Americans don’t have the same definitions of left and liberal as Europeans, hence some of the confusion in the comments below.

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 29, 2020 / 11:18 am

      I’ve been in MANY situations where I’ve been asked an opinion about something I don’t like, Renee… you’re right that one’s 100% honest answer should be kept to oneself, and there are ways to do it without being mean, and it sounds like you know exactly how to still be kind in those situations!

      Thanks for the political heads up, it shows how assumptions about those sorts of leanings are best left alone x

  7. January 28, 2020 / 6:28 pm

    Catherine, I agree 100%! The whole “I’m just being honest” is just an excuse for being an asshole. My husband and I were just discussing this the other night. His ex-mother-in-law used to say the most vile things then add, “but that’s just my opinion,” as if that excused the hateful thing she had just said.

    When someone asks my opinion about something, I usually find I can be supportive and still be honest. Things like:
    “It’s not my favorite color, but that’s totally subjective. If you love it then by all means you should get it.”
    “I can tell you love it, so you should absolutely get it!”

    I have never understood why some people believe their opinion matters more than anyone else’s. These are the least respectful people, and get no place in my life.

    Great post!

    Michelle

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 29, 2020 / 11:12 am

      “The whole “I’m just being honest” is just an excuse for being an asshole” – hehe you tell it like it is, Michelle!! 😉 , I’m laughing but you’re absolutely right!

      I LOVE the way you phrase things, you’re right that it’s possible to be supportive and still be honest. You must be a good friend to have xx

  8. Christine Johnsons
    January 28, 2020 / 4:38 pm

    Hello, all, This is my first comment but I had to say something. I enjoy your fashion comments, but this is sadly typical. You comment on how thoughtless it is to make deprecating comments, and yet you throw in a comment about Trump on a FASHION blog. You are insulting me, a Trump voter. So unnecessary. And a lie that he, and not condescending liberals, is the rude one. He never provokes first, he’s a famous COUNTER puncher. If you bothered to get out of your leftist bubble you could learn something. See for example these insults on CNN (which one can see on BBC, NPR, CNN, MSNBC , NYT, Wash Post on a daily basis #orangemanbad) and see how it will insure his re-election: [CS: I’ve deleted this as I don’t trust external links I haven’t added myself]
    You probably won’t publish this as it upends your assumptions, but maybe at least you’ll read it and think twice about preaching kindness and consideration. The blatant and blind hypocrisy of liberals is mind blowing.

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 28, 2020 / 5:08 pm

      Christine I didn’t mention Trump’s name, nor was I vicious(?), nor did I directly insult you, that was up to you to interpret it that way. (I was replying to someone else’s comment about someone being unkind, not making a political statement or insulting anyone’s supporters. I also made references to my loved ones being unkind to me and others in the past but you didn’t mention that.) I could write a whole blog post about Boris Johnson’s gaffes and blunders (who is Tory and right-wing) but how do you know I didn’t vote for him in the last general election? It’s a fact that he is that way. I could be his biggest supporter yet still admit he’s pretty clueless about the real world and can be insulting at times. Also, please don’t assume my political persuasions by saying I’m a liberal (you also told me to “get out of my leftist bubble” so I’m confused as to which way my political persuasions lie at all now) – you don’t know whether I am or not so it’s unfair to accuse me of being blatantly blind or hypocritical. Or leftist. I’m so confused.

      And I’ve mentioned this before, wouldn’t you agree I have the right to write about anything I wish as this is my blog? I’ve never claimed to have a 100% fashion blog. This blog post was not about fashion, and not all my blog posts are. If you’re going to get upset about small, hidden replies about people in the public eye (that were said with my tongue in my cheek and were relevant to the topic) then maybe it’s best not to go looking for them on blogs that feature clothes a lot (as well as other topics)… life’s not worth the aggro my love, it’s so much better to concentrate on the good things in life!

    • Jessica Nevins
      January 30, 2020 / 1:49 am

      Oh, Christine, Oh Christine. (SMH) ~NY USA “Liberal Bubble resident

    • Jessica Nevins
      January 30, 2020 / 1:49 am

      Oh, Christine, Oh Christine. (SMH) ~NY USA “Liberal Bubble” resident

  9. January 28, 2020 / 10:02 am

    I was nodding in agreement to this whole post! While I absolutely think it’s nice to get outside opinions and sometimes its true we need somebody to think critically when we are clouded by our own judgement, a true friend would never take that as an opportunity to be downright cruel! You brought up a lot of good points here too, and I’m also sorry you’ve had to deal with such coldness from your inner circle. Sending love!

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 29, 2020 / 11:09 am

      I’m lucky that my husband is honest without being cruel, Kailey – he’s the perfect blend of helpful and kind when I need an honest opinion! But he’s never, ever brutal and will always give a thoughtful answer, plus he never passes comments or judgements when I haven’t asked for them. It’s a shame the “brutally” honest people can’t seem to do it the same way…

      Thank you my lovely, glad you enjoyed the post x

  10. January 28, 2020 / 12:22 am

    People are just stupid and they are afraid to be honest which is sad. A lot of people want to be negative because it makes them feel better about themselves which is sad.

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 29, 2020 / 11:06 am

      I think it’s possible to be honest and kind at the same time, Partick, and yes I agree that negative people DO do it because they’re trying to make themselves feel better… I doubt it works, though 🙁

  11. Debs Paine
    January 26, 2020 / 5:24 pm

    I have asked for opinions on outfits from my hubby and he used to take a brief look and say “it looks lovely”. After a while I realised he was saying it about everything including things that did not look good. I wanted his opinion if I wasn’t sure about something and it was unhelpful to be told everything looked lovely. He now says “it looks ok” if he doesn’t like it and “that’s lovely/great” if he does like it so a slight improvement, ha ha ha. I have had my colours and image done which really opened my eyes and made buying clothes so much easier. The colour one is particularly eyeopening, this has enabled me to wear colours that really suit me and therefore make me look healthier and more youthful and I get many unsolicited compliments now. I also can see with more clarity if my friends are wearing a colour that is good on them, if they are, I usually try to say “that colour looks lovely on you”.
    I think if someone asks for your opinion you should be honest but in a kind way, ask why they are asking for your opinion and find something positive to say about the outfit, ie”what is it that you are unsure about, the colour is fab.” Surely most people only ask for your opinion if they are unsure. The reason they are unsure may well be something really simple like the garment is too big in a specific area, ie the back length, if you can spot what it is then that can be altered/changed. I would rather someone told me than me wearing something that isn’t quite right but I can’t put my finger on it.
    This is turning into a bit of an essay! My conclusion is if asked be honest in a kind and constructive way otherwise keep your opinion to yourself.

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 27, 2020 / 11:32 am

      That’s totally okay IMO Debs – the honesty without the brutal bit is exactly what my husband does, he’s great when I’m in a “which one looks better” situation!

      You’re absolutely right about being honest in a kind way, that’s what I do – you can tell if someone if purely showing off their new “thing” and just want validation, or they really do want your opinion. There are ways to give an honest opinion kindly (and I do/would), but as we know there are ways to do it UNKINDLY, and that’s when the brutal bit comes into it unfortunately… some people just don’t seem to get that it doesn’t help the person to be unkind!

      Thanks for the essay ( 😉 ), I really appreciate you taking the time to comment x

      • Debs Paine
        January 29, 2020 / 2:58 pm

        it was a bit long wasn’t it, ha ha ha

  12. January 25, 2020 / 1:34 pm

    With me, it isn’t that my bum look big – but my tum does. I had this an hour ago when I tried on something and my husband is all like, well, it does make your tum stick out!’ Followed by, ‘well, I’m only being honest’ Right well that outfit going back to the shops!
    What really grinds my gear is whenever someone comments with the whole weight thing, oh have you lost weight or oh dear, gained weight?’ It is just better not to say anything as it obvious you have no thoughts about my feeling.
    I’m with Nancy on this – who needs people like this?

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 25, 2020 / 7:40 pm

      Hmmm the weight thing IS a very touchy thing to comment on Anna as you say – the “skinny” comment I quoted above is not always a compliment for example, though people always think it is! Sounds like you need to train hubby, hehe 😉

  13. January 25, 2020 / 1:02 pm

    Oh Catherine, you brilliant woman! I couldn’t have said this any better myself. I am a huge proponent of honesty…without the brutal part. Gentle honesty is what I prefer. But also, like you said, sometimes little white lies are much less harmful than honesty. I once had one of my closest friends text me after reading a blog post simply to tell me that the outfit I was wearing was hideous. Followed up with, “I am your friend and I wouldn’t be a very good friend if I didn’t tell you that.” I was stunned. And I don’t like confrontation at all, but I was NOT going to let that one slide. I fired back with things like, “I didn’t ask for your opinion on my outfit nor do I really care if you like it or not. Your opinion will not change the way I dress.” I also let her know that I was incredibly hurt that she actually purposefully took the time and made a specific effort to pick up her phone and type that text…unsolicited nonetheless. I think that was more hurtful than the actual offense…taking time to specifically offend me. People are constantly making me shake my head in wonder.

    Great post!

    Shelbee

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 25, 2020 / 7:42 pm

      Oh my GOODNESS Shelbee… I can’t believe that friend said that to you?!!!! I’m so glad you told her she hurt you, it amazes me that people think that that sort of “advice” is what friendships are all about.

      =still reeling=

    • January 28, 2020 / 6:40 pm

      Good for you, Shelbee! Under the guise of, “I wouldn’t be your friend if…” Sheesh! She has much to learn about friendship.

      Michelle

  14. Sonya Simmonds
    January 25, 2020 / 12:56 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. Once, when I was 13/14 and eating a bowl of cereal at night my dad said to me “no wonder you are so fat”!!!! Unfortunately it triggered a ten year eating disorder… Anyway, I wasn’t fat at all, he was, and is, overweight. So now I just feel a bit sad for him because I am sure that’s how his parents spoke to him. Also I think if he knew the consequences of what he said, he likely would not have said it. But personally I am very very careful about expressing opinions, especially not an unsolicited one!!!

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 25, 2020 / 7:44 pm

      WOW Sonya that’s a classic example of what I mentioned in the post about how a single, throwaway comment can affect a person’s whole life. I’m so sorry he said that to you, and I’m so sorry that it affected your relationship with your body and with eating for so many years. I hope that you’re in a better place now, and I’m sure that you’ll stop the cycle if you have kids and know what NOT to say to them…!

      xoxo

      • Sonya Simmonds
        January 27, 2020 / 6:27 am

        I think with me, possibly it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, possibly I was teetering on the edge of a disorder anyway…. I did recover, though…. But, it just goes to show, we never really know what a potentially negative effect an “honest” (/tactless) opinion can have on someone. And another thing, to argue about semantics, expressing an opinion is not “telling the truth”, ie it is not a fact if someone says to you “you look terrible with a fringe” for example, it is expressing an opinion. I just always think if you can’t say something positive, then better to say nothing! And yes, I do have kids, and I tell them how great they look, from time to time, because I don’t think looks are important, but being kind, hard working (and maybe funny) … With looks, I would usually say something to do with some effort they have put into something, eg, a colour/shape combination, looking smart, hair done nicely. If they are eating what I feel is too much unhealthy food, I simply tell them I want them to eat more healthy foods because I want them to stay healthy…. And I certainly would never, ever tell them they were fat, even if they were!!!! So that is definitely a lesson learned.

        • Catherine
          Author
          January 27, 2020 / 11:36 am

          Oh gosh that’s kind of worse, Sonya, to say something unkind and brutal to someone if they’re teetering on the edge of anything. To be the catalyst is unforgivable, and some kinder words might have turned the whole thing round for you.

          Although I don’t have kids (I have been an auntie since I was 13 and am now a great aunt so I’ve had kids in my family practically my whole life), I agree 100% that you shouldn’t put a huge amount of emphasis on looks. It’s important, but equally as important is to praise kids for their kindness, effort, (emotional) strength and so on. I LOVE how you word the thing about eating healthy food, let’s get everyone talking to children about food that way…!

  15. Cynthia
    January 25, 2020 / 2:36 am

    I have never forgotten (or forgiven) a comment that was made to me by one of my colleagues when I told her how excited I was that my daughter was getting married. She asked me if I knew what I was going to wear at the wedding, and then suggested that she’d seen some dresses that actually disguised a “little tummy.” Honestly, I felt like throwing up. I have always regretted that I did not respond at all to her comment. People like that should not be allowed to get away with that sort of sabotage.

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 25, 2020 / 7:48 pm

      Oh Cynthia that’s appalling!! I’m just so shocked at ALL these examples people are talking about here, not least yours. To follow up something that’s so positive (your daughter getting married) with what was, effectively, her saying that you had a tummy that needed disguising is just unforgivable. I hope you never have a comment like that again, but at least next time you can be prepared and know to call them out on their unkindness…!

  16. January 24, 2020 / 9:53 pm

    I’m sorry you and your loved ones were on the receiving end of those horrible comments. My Mum’s advice to me was that if someone says something horrible to me, then respond immediately by telling them that they’ve hurt my feelings and they shouldn’t have said it. Usually the response is an apology and embarrassment because they had no idea that their honesty would be hurtful! It’s the people who don’t care how their words affect others that definitely need to be cut out of out lives.
    It really irks me too when people think their opinion is so important it has to be heard. Great post!
    Helen x

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 25, 2020 / 7:51 pm

      It shows an abundance of self-importance, doesn’t it Helen, when someone can’t see that their opinion being broadcast is not as ultimately important as the hurt it might cause. My favourite people in the world are the kind, thoughtful ones – and not just kind with material things, but with feelings too. They’re the best kinds of people 😀

  17. Gail Anderson
    January 24, 2020 / 9:44 pm

    I totally agree with what you are saying, Catherine. You have a lot of courage to discuss this issue, and I admire that.
    Especially these days when anyone who dares to bring up this subject is labeled a “snowflake”. Unfortunately, brutal honesty is not going away any time soon. It’s too much a part of our society today. Television is full of performers who have spent their whole careers being rude.
    I’m of the baby boomer generation so I’m old enough to remember the old days when people were a lot more considerate than they are today. The first person I remember making ugly comments on television was Joan Rivers. Rivers was funny at times, especially when she was starting out in comedy, but she became nastier as she grew older. The brutality escalated when reality TV came along. I was one of the few people who did not watch American Idol in the aughts, because I didn’t care for Simon Cowell tearing into teenage kids. (I probably would have blown Simon off if he had just criticized adults, but my daughter was a teenager at the time. So Simon’s rudeness hit close to home.) And it was bad enough when Donald Trump was on reality TV, now it’s a thousand times worse since he’s been President. Please forgive me, I know that it’s bad manners to talk about politics or religion. However, I don’t think that it’s possible to talk about rudeness in our society and leave Trump out. God only knows what all this brutal honesty is going to bring us to, and I’m not sure that I want to find out. It certainly won’t be pretty!

    • Rona
      January 25, 2020 / 2:26 am

      PREACH. XOXO

      • Catherine
        Author
        January 25, 2020 / 7:55 pm

        #TwoThumbsUpOverHere 😀

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 25, 2020 / 7:54 pm

      Totally agree with you, Gail – though I have to say I think Simon Cowell has softened over the years… he’s nowhere near as cruel as he once was. Maybe fatherhood has changed him!! And no worries about ever-so-slightly touching on the P word – I think it didn’t need saying that the orange toddler was a classic example that applied in this case :0

    • January 28, 2020 / 6:49 pm

      I am right there with you, Gail! I’ve never found cruelty entertaining. Simon Cowell and Donald Trump are good examples of what not to do.

      Michelle

  18. January 24, 2020 / 9:40 pm

    How about the comment, “Your hair looks so much better like that”? Yikes. I so agree with everything you’ve said here. Common courtesy dictates that we make every effort to be kind–wouldn’t that be a change in these current times? There are very few people in our lives who give us total honesty that we accept. Yes, one can comment and be as truthful as the situation makes sense, but little white lies in an effort to give gentle feedback are certainly best.

    xx Darlene

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 25, 2020 / 7:58 pm

      I won’t go into who said it to me about the hair Darlene, but thankfully I married a man who has never once criticised my appearance or said anything unkind to me ever (he’s a keeper).

      Stephen Fry said a wonderful thing once: the ONLY advice you ever need to give anyone in life – or the only way anybody should live their life – is a two-word mantra… BE NICE. So simple, so true…!

  19. January 24, 2020 / 7:57 pm

    I could not agree more, Catherine. Cruelty is not a virtue, even when cloaked in “honesty.”

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 24, 2020 / 8:27 pm

      That’s what irks me so much, Sadira, that they see it as something to be proud of. Cruelty ISN’T a virtue, you’re absolutely right…

  20. ReaderRita
    January 24, 2020 / 7:56 pm

    And because it absolutely needs to be said: the red dress in the photograph above makes your bum look AH-MA-ZING; NOT big- please know that in your heart!

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 24, 2020 / 8:29 pm

      Oh bless you Rita, thank you so much – thankfully no one actually said “your bum looks big in that” to me (and not in that red dress), but if they HAD, it would have been the perfect example of when NOT to tell someone, because I felt a million dollars wearing it!!

      • ReaderRita
        January 24, 2020 / 11:23 pm

        Just wanted to make sure you knew how good that looks in your heart and soul, and you do!

        I struggle with self esteem, and here’s one reason: my very first real, adult (?) boyfriend told me that I looked horrible in jeans, and that I should never, ever wear them. I trusted him implicitly, so I stopped wearing jeans immediately. We dated for a couple of years, then split up. We both went on to marry other people. I still couldn’t bring myself to wear jeans. We both divorced those other people, found each other once more, and started dating again.
        One day he asked me: “Why don’t you ever wear jeans? It’s kind of weird.”
        I reminded him that he told me I looked awful in them, and told me not to wear them. Laughingly, he said this:

        “I only told you that because you looked really, really good in jeans, and I didn’t want any other guys looking at you. ”

        I was gobsmacked. Here was a person whom I trusted and loved, and he had just proved he didn’t give a crap about me or my self esteem. He viewed me as being there for his enjoyment and manipulation, not as a human being with feelings. It really shook me. That was the beginning of the end for us. (I am sad that it wasn’t the end right there, but I was young…)

        The moral of this story? People have motives. Trust yourself.

        • Catherine
          Author
          January 25, 2020 / 8:05 pm

          RITA I AM ABSOLUTELY REELING AT THIS!!!!!!!!

          It’s incredible (not in a good way of course) that he said that in the first place, BUT THEN years later he actually admitted his real motives. I mentioned this to my husband and his reaction was “who the hell thinks of a partner in that way, like they’re your property?” – I couldn’t agree with him more.

          I hope that you’re in a much better place now (whether that’s with another partner or by yourself) and I’m glad that you can see how appalling his behaviour was.

          I mentioned that people who pride themselves in brutal honesty are the worst – I think jealous, possessive types come a close second…!!

          • ReaderRita
            January 26, 2020 / 8:35 pm

            Thank you for your comments!
            Luckily, I DID learn from that past situation; I now am in a wonderful marriage with a man who truly respects me, and I him. We encourage each other, we are honest with each other, (in a respectful way), and are the other’s biggest fan. I can ask him an honest question and get an honest answer, completely minus the “brutal”.
            The thing I’ve found is that “brutal honesty” usually has less to do with the actual truth and more to do with the mental state of the person who purports to be “brutally honest”.

            What I think some of us may need (I know I had to), is to allow ourselves to be more positive and comfortable with ourselves; to know in our hearts that we deserve respect! It is very easy to let someone else have rule over our self-esteem if we are always looking outside for validation.

        • Catherine
          Author
          January 27, 2020 / 11:38 am

          So glad to hear you’re in a happy place with a lovely man. Good for you!!!!!!

    • OneLazySusan
      January 24, 2020 / 9:52 pm

      Amen!

      • Catherine
        Author
        January 25, 2020 / 8:06 pm

        heehee thanks Susan xoxo

  21. January 24, 2020 / 7:31 pm

    I so agree with you Catherine. I have often found that brutal honesty is more like deliberate nastiness. When I was flatting with a family member, she constantly hassled me to wear: a fringe (hairdressers tell me that it’s not flattering on me); royal blue (which always gets favourable comments from everyone else) looked yukky on me; baggy pants with elastic around the waist and ankles looked fantastic on me (I caught sight of myself in a shop window wearing them – and almost cried, as I looked at least 2 sizes bigger and I’m already overweight). Brutal honesty? Back stabbing manipulation. I totally never know what to do in these type of cases other than smile and say “thank you” then remove myself asap. Oh, I moved out far away from said family member and didn’t let them know where I was going. Phew! Lucky escape.

    • January 24, 2020 / 7:34 pm

      wrote that wrong – she hassled me NOT to wear royal blue! I had lost all confidence and a lot of self respect being around her. It was relentless.

      • Catherine
        Author
        January 25, 2020 / 8:09 pm

        Blimey Ratnamurti that’s shocking. What a way to treat a family member… I can somewhat relate, though – having grown up with it I came to see it as the norm, though I’m glad I don’t do the same to others as I now know how hurtful it is!

        Whether the nastiness is deliberate or not, I still think it’s unforgivable. Sorry it happened to you 🙁

  22. Claudia
    January 24, 2020 / 6:43 pm

    Wow! You clearly have been hurt a lot and deeply about those unwanted opinions and I understand they are like ‘scars on your soul’ and I am sorry about this. It must have felt horrible to hear them and to process them.
    However I must say, I am in the group of those people who gives honest opinions when asked and I am normally thanked for that.
    I guess the key is understanding who you have in front of you and why is the person asking your opinion. It is easy to take it as a negative judgement. So if you feel that the person has gone one step too far you should tell him/her to avoid further disappointments. If a friendship is true, “an opinion” should not be seen as that but “a loving piece of advice”.
    Anyway, thank you for raising this concern.

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 26, 2020 / 4:43 pm

      Thankfully they haven’t affected me that much Claudia (don’t forget not all of them were said to me), but it’s the fact that the comments were horrible enough for me to remember them. It’s definitely about understanding the situation and the personal as you say, but there are nice ways to properly honest and there are thoughtless ways to be honest… it’s the latter that make my blood boil!!

  23. Lea
    January 24, 2020 / 6:30 pm

    Oh my! I think I love you now! Lol But honestly, you are spot on, so often I’ve not bought/worn something because of unsolicited advice, usually from someone who had a completely different style than myself. I no longer accept that into my life. A by-product of aging is doing/wearing things my own way… last night a wonderful friend said that she thinks I restrain myself from wearing the colours I really love… she’s right, so bring on the bright pink!

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 26, 2020 / 4:44 pm

      Oh thank you Lea…! 😉 I’m so glad that you’ve “seen the light” as it were and decided to do things your way. Wear ALL the pink!!!!!!

  24. Heide V
    January 24, 2020 / 6:28 pm

    Absolutely love this and agree with it!! Brutal honestly like that is NOT something to be proud of, just shows how very young emotionally they are…. good on ya mate, for writing about it Hello to your hubby and sweet Suki too

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 26, 2020 / 4:44 pm

      Thanks Heide, yes you’re right it ISN’T something to be proud of at all is it.

      And thank you, the girl and boy say hi back #waves 😀

  25. January 24, 2020 / 6:12 pm

    Leaning back in my chair, nodding and giving you a round of applause Catherine. I totally agree with you 100% . Have I got it wrong sometimes? Yes. Do I ever regret being totally honest? Absolutely.
    In my case, it took some self reflection after I hurt somebody’s feelings. I had to take stock of being too truthful and admit that “little white lies” can sometimes be kind.
    Bravo on a really thought provoking post mate xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 26, 2020 / 4:46 pm

      Thanks MT – I think it shows that if you’ve regretted being too honest in the past (I’m sure we’ve all done it!) then you’re the sort of person who DOES care about others’ feelings. Those who do it and are PROUD of it, well they’re a different kettle of fish… #grrrrrr

  26. January 24, 2020 / 6:11 pm

    I think it really depends on the situation and your relationship. If the opinion is unsolicited and it relates to something of personal choice then no my honesty isn’t necessary. Unless I am handing out compliments. The age old if you haven’t got something nice to say and all that. However if I see someone making a disasterous decision, one that can be helped with facts (not opinons) I will offer up what I have. Ultimately they still have to make their choice. But comments about fashion and opinions aren’t necessary. Because tastes differ between people, between generations etc. What you like I might not but that doesn’t make it wrong. Nor comment worthy. Defintely been on the recieving end of comments like those – mostly from family.

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 26, 2020 / 4:48 pm

      You’re right Jane – and all those comments I quoted above were all unsolicited, at no point were they asked for an opinion (you can probably tell by the type of comment some of them were)! I think that’s why I learnt to wear whatever I liked, because of constant comments about what I wore… a bit of a “**** you, I’ll wear what I want thank you very much” to them!!

  27. January 24, 2020 / 6:08 pm

    I think these kind of comments are just of reflection of who those people are…but i do believe honesty has a place…just not from a mean-spirited place…i do need to know if i have too much make-up on, or too much jewelry, or too much going on with my outfit…,.it’s pause for thought….those are superficial things…don’t bother me in the slightest–might embarrass me, but do not bother me…causes me to reflect, and check myself….now comments on my character?—that’s a whole different story….i think when you put yourself out there on social media, you do put yourself under all kinds of scrutiny…and it’s easy for mean comments because these people don’t know you…i tell my teen daughters, if you don’t want people to ‘say’ things about you, don’t go on social media—these two things go hand-in-hand in my opinion…just focus on the plethora of positivity, because there’s a ton of that which should outweigh stupid comments
    xo eva

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 26, 2020 / 4:54 pm

      I think comments on social and comments IRL are two very different things, Eva – that’s why I was concentrating on the IRL comments here – it goes without saying that saying hideous things to strangers is just wrong and mean, full stop!

      But to say mean things to someone IRL usually means you’re saying it to someone who loves you – and I think those are far more hurtful. IF Keith were to say something awful about my appearance or a new haircut, for example (thankfully he never has and never would!), then that would hurt me a million times more than anything that’s said to me on the internet. Everyone reacts differently (and more extreme or less extreme than others) to comments and unsolicited advice, and unless someone’s got the hide of a rhino, I think disparaging comments should be left inside the thinker’s head, myself…!!

        • January 28, 2020 / 7:01 pm

          IRL = in real life

          Great question! I have so much trouble keeping up with the abbreviations.

        • Catherine
          Author
          January 29, 2020 / 11:01 am

          In Real Life (thanks to Michelle as well below!) – apologies Eva, I’ve always thought it was a well-known acronym like WTF or OMG… I put it in capitalised case in the post but probably didn’t make it that clear! My bad 😉 x

  28. January 24, 2020 / 5:34 pm

    Well, I’m not sure. Because I have a girl friend who is very honest. And she just gives her opinion, not to be nasty, she is just honest. She doesn’t even notice when she steps on someone’s heart. But people who do that on purpose……. Ban them! Who needs people like that.

    • Catherine
      Author
      January 24, 2020 / 6:05 pm

      Unfortunately for me (maybe you’ve got a thicker skin than me, Nancy, being Dutch 😉 !) it’s the ones that are insensitive and don’t even know it that get me the most… I had a friend who said one of the things I listed above to me amongst MANY other things to me, and others. She had no clue she hurt everyone’s feelings all the time. I cut her out my life, and I’m so glad I did as her negativity (and lack of support) did nothing but make me feel bad about myself. She never once thought about my feelings, so for me she ultimately wasn’t the friend I initially thought she was…!

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