Features

Say It Ain’t So: Keep Your Backhanded Compliments Please

Words by: Shirley Yeung


Forget about white feminism or the #ProLife movement for a moment and let me introduce you to another problem women face regularly today. Yes, sexism is still very much alive and so is misogyny. However this is another facet of catcalling and offensiveness that comes in the form of what you might think are ‘compliments’, but trust me… they’re not.

If you’re a woman of colour (WOC) like myself, then I am 100% certain you can relate to this 100%. So gentlemen… get the pad and pen out, take some notes. These are just a few out of many backhanded ‘compliments’ WOC are seriously tired of hearing.

‘You’re so pretty for a [insert race/ethnicity here] girl!’


Okay let’s get this straight. When you say this to a WOC, you’re literally making offense to her by implying that other women of her race is everything besides ‘pretty’. You’re saying she’s the exception because of her looks and it should be a big deal. You’re limiting to her to just be ‘pretty’ and nothing else.

‘Oh where are you from? … That’s so exotic!’


Guys… please explain to me how being from another country other than your own is in any way ‘exotic’?!? If you think calling her exotic makes it sexy, then note to self… it doesn’t! Call her beautiful, call her ugly, call her basic – whatever you call her, don’t call her exotic or you’re going to hear the eye rolls from the line up girls waiting to beat your ass.

*Side note: if you want to know her race, don’t ask ‘where she is from’. Ask her ‘what her ethnicity is’.

‘Your english is so good’ or ‘You’re so articulate’


There’s often a generalisation that WOC from any race is inarticulate, or can’t speak english well. This misconception of women is quite ridiculous, because a) this stereotype paints WOC as non-english speakers and reflects on them being uneducated, and b) English is somehow a more superior language to any other… it’s not.

‘You have really big eyes for an asian!’

Okay, this one applies more to the asian babes but you still get the point. Let me just assure you that in no way is this phrase not offensive at all. This is particularly on par with stating that someone is initially good at maths because they’re asian. This is just outright racist. Can we please just, STOP!

‘You’re going to make such hot babies, cause you’re mixed/going to have mixed babies’

This one goes out to all the halfie babes out there. Trust me when I tell you that WOC are tired of hearing about the good looks of their future offsprings because they will be ‘mixed race’; and cause their genes are somewhat ugly unless it is mixed with a person of non colour. I’ll admit I have been guilty of saying this, but I have acknowledged my mistakes and these words will never leave my mouth again… hopefully.