It’s a popular saying: “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” and I agree. Trying to pinpoint what exactly “being beautiful” entails can lead to an exhausting argument without a conclusion. Is it someones inner or outer beauty or even both? Still, giving or receiving such a compliment can make someones day. I’ve given such compliments occasionally and was greeted with mixed responses.
When I said it to a friend, she would hug me, look into the mirror for a second time and laugh with healthy confidence: “You’re damn right, I am.”
When I told someone I just met a couple of days ago that she looked like Kylie Minogue (which I would categorize as attractive) she smiled, somewhat shyly and replied: “Thank you.”
However, I’ve never told a total stranger that I would find them beautiful, for different reasons. For once, does it really matter if I tell the person? On the other hand how would this person react? An arrogant response would destroy my initial thought. A suspicious look would irritate me and so on.
Philosopher Roger-Pol Droit in his book ‘101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life’ has the following example:
‘You have never seen her before. Pure chance and timing account for the fact of glimpsing her today, in the restaurant. Or on the train, in the cafe, crossing the street. She is radiant, alive, perfect. Her very presence is uplifting. In a few minutes, or a few seconds, she will disappear. You will never see her again. That is of no importance. You are filled with gratitude for her brief stay. You want to thank her for existing, to tell her she is beautiful and that her beauty rejoices the heart.
This is simply not allowed. You run the risk of being misunderstood. If she is alone, she’ll think you are simply trying to pick her up (even though your gratitude is disinterested). If accompanied, you will be cast in the unpleasant role of the lewd provocateur, someone who deserves to be slapped.
All the same, dare yourself to do it. Out of style and sincerity. You have more to gain than to lose. Gain what, exactly? The pleasure of saying it. You cannot thank a landscape, a flower or a bird for the joy they procure you in contemplating them. They know nothing of that moment of recognition that beauty can cause. In the human case, it is different.
As to what happens next, you will find out for yourself. But if the response is in most cases a shrug of the shoulders, this at least testifies to a deplorable decay in the social fabric.’
Hm one day, maybe I will tell someone:-)