A beautiful friendship

2012-09-29 10:29

If your friends are describing you as ‘gorgeous, fabulous and exquisite’ they could be overselling you – just a tad, of course…

Anyone else left feeling faintly queasy after watching the love triangle that is Katy Perry, Cheryl Cole and Rihanna at work?

The trio seem to have abandoned practising their scales in favour of laying on mutual flattery so thick it would have any normal person reaching for carbolic soap and scouring pads.

Here’s Rihanna on Cheryl: ‘She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.’

Katy on Rihanna: ‘Disgustingly gorgeous… My friends wonder if she drinks the blood of virgins.’

Rihanna on both of them: ‘They’re so hot it should be illegal.’ In a moment of clarity, she qualified: ‘I know it’s a real girl thing to say I have hot friends,’

Then she spoilt it by adding: ‘But I honestly think I have the hottest friends in the world.’

You and every other woman, RiRi. Whoever your friends are, describing them using over-the-top adjectives has become part of the way we talk.

It’s no longer enough to call them ‘quite pretty’ or ‘reasonably smart’.

They have to be billed as Stunningly Beautiful, Ridiculously Hot, Amazingly Talented.

We throw around superlatives like they’re going out of fashion (though all evidence points to the contrary).

And in doing this we’ve lost the art of the measured, moderate compliment – the sort that actually means something.

Just as labels in our clothes are being resized to make us feel we’re smaller than we are, so this tendency to recklessly oversell each other is stripping credibility from our opinions.

I now actively disregard about 76% of nice things my friends tell me about myself. Surely that can’t be a good thing?

But consider the alternative, which is even worse:
A few months back, Samantha Brick’s piece on the small daily indignities suffered by beautiful women went viral, attracting 1.5 million hits in the space of 24 hours, 5 000 comments on DailyMail.co.uk,
50 000 shares on Facebook and a fathomless number of tweets.

Readers stunned by her presumption were left scrabbling for answers.

Did she have narcissistic personality disorder?

Or dirty mirrors?

Perhaps the article was a clever piece of self-promotion?

Then again, could she just be an innocent, freelance writer who fell foul of the Mail’s stated mandate to make all women look stupid, all the time?

I have another, more matter-of-fact explanation.

I don’t think she’s a narcissist, or an innocent.

But I’m guessing she’s got a whole gang of girls back home who never stop telling her how gorgeous she is.

Perhaps she was just silly enough to listen.

So there’s a risk that you’ll make a real fool of yourself if you believe everything your girlfriends tell you.

But your friends won’t come out of it too well, either.

Refusing to admit you are friendly with ‘average’ women won’t do you any favours.

Rather than making you look wonderfully loyal to your pals, it can be viewed as a nasty strain of status anxiety (people talk about the glamorous people they hang out with for the same reasons they boast about increased responsibilities at work – to make themselves look good).

This tiresome approach, that if we’re going to call someone our girlfriend we have to go on and on about how perfect they are, doesn’t make us sound like the great friend we imagine.

It undermines the very essence of friendship itself.

Friendship, in its purest form, is about rating a person regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.

That’s why your best girls give you the space to lose your looks, your job, your man, your money.

That’s why you can fail spectacularly on the professional and personal front, yet hang onto your mates.

It’s a beautiful thing in and of itself. And if you only love your friends for their show-and-tell qualities, rather than because they’re loveable, with all the faults and quirks that implies? Well, that says something not very pretty about you.

» Get your iMag with City Press on Sunday


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