Was that a compliment or complidis?

Most of us have somebody in our life who can”t help but complidis. A complidisser is the guy or gal whose mother said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Unfortunately they couldn’t quite say nice things and they definitely couldn’t stay quiet. They figured out a way to disguise the nasty stuff they really wanted to say in a way that sounded like “saying something nice.”

It could be compared to a backhanded compliment. The kind of compliment that was never given as a compliment.

Those of us who have or are overweight or who have lost weight are often their targets. If they should get called out on their behavior they’re good at feigning innocence while saying, “It was a compliment! I can’t help if she took it the wrong way!”




  1. a critical comment disguised as a sincere show of praise, appreciation or support.
    “Erica did not appreciate her complidis on her new haircut.”



  1. to disguise criticism to appear to be praise.
    “he complidissed Erica on her lower weight by saying he “never noticed she was so hot!”


What’s a complidis you ask? It’s a compliment that ends in a dis. You know, like when somebody says, “Your outfit is so cute! I hated to see it go out of style!”

Complidisses overweight people have received:

She says, “That hairdo looks great on you! The extra volume balances your body!”

  • She’s really saying, “Your head looked too little on your big, fat body.”

She says, “Black looks good on  you. It hides a lot.”

  • She’s really saying, “You need to do whatever it takes to camouflage that fat.”

He says, “This is delicious! I should have known you’d be an excellent cook!”

  • He’s really saying, “Of course you’re a good cook. Look at you!”

She says, “Let Jackie suggest the restaurant. She knows the best ones.”

  • She’s really saying, “All Jackie does is eat, so she must have the 411 on where to go to get the most food.”

He says, “Wow! You’re a really good skier. What a surprise!”

  • He’s really saying, “I didn’t know girls as big as you ever got off the couch!”

She says, “Good for you! You’re eating an apple!”

  • She’s really saying, “Glad to see you’re eating a piece of fruit for a change.”

The worst complidis of all is when somebody does an obvious digital makeover on you trimming away inches from your waist and removing a double chin or two, and somebody gushes over the picture by saying, “What a great picture! You look fabulous!”

Complidissing doesn’t just happen to us common folks. Celebrities get complidissed too. Click to see celebrity complidisses. Some celebrities have spoken up to object their bodies and faces retouching.

If you thought that losing weight would put an end to complidisses, think again! Those of us who’ve lost weight get complidissed too. Some of us get complidisses years after we lost weight and are maintaining our losses.

Complidisses people who lost weight have received:

She says, “Wow! You look great! You lost a ton of weight!

  • She’s really saying, “You were really fat!”


She says, “I love your hair! Why does everybody get a new hairdo after they lost weight?”

  • She’s really saying, “You look good, but I want to remind you that you used to be fat.”

He says, “You’re just having a salad? So that’s your secret!”

  • He’s really saying, “I bet you used to really chow down before you lost weight!”


He says, “You look so much healthier!”

  • He’s really saying, “I wish all the fat people would lose weight so that my health insurance rates would not keep going up!”
"Oh yeah! Have you seen Betsy? She looks fantastic after losing all that weight. Of course, she had surgery so she really didn't have to do anything."

“Oh yeah! Have you seen Betsy? She looks fantastic after losing all that weight. Of course, she had surgery so she really didn’t have to do anything.”

There are third person complidisses too! She’s says, “She looks great, but she had gastric bypass surgery.”

  • She’s really saying, “She doesn’t deserve any credit for her weight loss. She cheated. She’s still the same lazy slug she always was.”

Were we being overly sensitive to these comments? What makes us doubt they were spoken with sincerity? Were we twisting the meaning? I can see how some people may think that’s the case. They would like to tell us we’re projecting our embarrassment about our weight, or even our shame, onto others. They’ll say there was nothing behind the remark; it was a compliment!

Ha! There is a tone that distinguishes the difference between a compliment and a complidis. Sometimes it’s not a tone, but a slight smirk or a lifted eyebrow. Sometimes it’s delivered without a tone or a smirk, but the speaker is well-known for his or her habit of complidissing,

Yes, we all have friends and family members who may say the same thing, using the same words, but there’s no hidden meaning. There’s no dis although the compliment comes out a bit awkwardly, it was sincere. Believe me, we know the difference!

I’ve had my share of complidisses, but the one that both bothered me and amused me was, “You lost 70 pounds? Oh that was pregnancy weight; you’re weren’t a real fat person.” I didn’t bother telling her that it was 70 pounds of “real fat” and yes, I was a “bona fide fat person.” The complidis was meant to diminish all of my hard work it took to lose the weight.

I learned the best way to deal with complidisses is sometimes to reply with a smile and a comment that lets the complidisser know her insincerity didn’t escape you. Other times it’s better to smile and say, “thank you,” and recognize some people are just oafs and will always be oafs.

Have you ever been complidissed? What was the most unappreciated complidis you ever received?

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.