‘You look great… It’s amazing what you can do with make-up’ 17 of our favourite backhanded compliments

You know when you’ve been given a backhanded compliment – first there’s a warm, fuzzy feeling, then the sting of the insult kicks in. Whether it’s a deliberately catty comment or praise gone pear-shaped, these are our favourites (so far…) 

backhanded compliments
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I told my husband to go out and have a nice time one Friday night and he said: ‘I don’t want to have a nice time, I want to be with you.’ Sara, 49.

When I went to the States on holiday, my mother said that I would look slim there as most Americans are obese. Still love her, though! Helen, 49.

I was once showing off a new black leather coat to a friend, looking over my shoulder with a smouldering expression. The friend said: ‘You look like Garbo. From the back.’ Barbara, 59.

I was at a black-tie do, all dressed up, and feeling sort of ok in my red Tommy Hilfiger skirt and a gorgeous top. At the end of the evening, I was queueing at the coat check when a young woman came up to me and said: ‘I just want to say that when I get to your age, I hope I dress half as well as you.’ Patricia, 50.

I was working in LA once as part of a TV crew and a young guy on set said to me: ‘I just wanted to say, I love your haircut, it looks great.’ ‘Oh thanks!’ I said, thinking how nice, because he was quite good-looking too. I’ll bank that, I thought. He continued, ‘What I really love about it is, it’s so age-appropriate. Living in LA , I see so many women your age trying to look younger. I think it’s great that you’re just embracing it.’ Kate, 42.

Personal highlights include: ‘You’d be so pretty if you were thin’ and ‘You’ve got such an expressive face.’ Ellie, 28.

H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Get​ty Images

I was away with a group of friends at a wedding and the girls had spent two hours getting ready. We went downstairs and a male friend said: ‘You all look great, you’ve done a really good job.’ Anna, 32.

My mum’s friend, who I’d just met, told me: ‘I love your skirt. I wouldn’t wear one so short – it’s fabulous that that doesn’t seem to bother you.’ Lucy, 22.

Stranger in a pub: ‘You’re a nice looking chick… with a big nose.’ I wouldn’t mind but he was no George Clooney himself. Polly, 32.

‘You’re really photogenic!’ ie, you don’t look so good in the flesh… It’s been a feature throughout my life. Caroline, 45.

A colleague recently told me: ‘I really didn’t like you when I first met you but now I think you’re really nice’ Sarah, 30.

A woman once commented on how amazing my daughter is at ballet, then added: ‘She must get it from her father as you’re more sturdy; more… you know, hockey-like’ Amanda, 53. 

A ‘friend’ once said to me that there are many different types of beauty… and I was beautiful on the inside. Lindsay, 46.

‘You’d have an OK body if you went to the gym.’ Isabel, 28.

‘You look great – because you were too thin at one point, weren’t you?’ Celia, 32.

When I was single, I went to see Bridget Jones at the cinema. Afterwards my friend said she was so pleased she had gone with me because I was so much like bridget. Liz, 50. 

Have you received a backhanded compliment? Let us know at you.features@mailonsunday.co.uk

Compiled by Luisa Metcalfe