The Monsieur’s Code of Civility: “You Look Great” and Other (white) Lies

Posted on June 14, 2011

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“You Look Great” and Other (white) Lies

What do we say when someone is sick? “You look great” is a popular option. Nice try, but patients can see right through this chestnut. They know they’re gaunt, their is hair is falling out in clumps, the colostomy bag needs emptying. The only thing this hollow expression conveys is that you’re focusing on how they appear. “When people comment on my appearance,” Ms. Linn said, “it reminds me that I don’t look good.” Next time you want to compliment a patient’s appearance, keep this in mind: Vanity is the only part of the human anatomy that is immune to cancer. [This NYT column gives many tips on things to say when someone is sick]

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Posted in: the critic