I remember promising few months ago to tell this story, well, here goes:
I was in my first year in the university when this young man was disturbing me for marriage. I used that word because he did not have the slightest idea about me, yet was pushing for whatever. I remember telling him one Sunday after church service that my department has not graduated a First class and I would love to be the first. He took a deep breath, stopped walking beside me, and told me how absurd I sounded. “You can’t make a first class!” he exclaimed. “Do you know what First class students look like and what they do?” He went on to stress how even him made a 2:1. Back then, that was one of the most hurtful statements anyone ever made to me (until other people broke the record as I grew). It was the last day I ever associated with him.
I have received the compliment “You’re beautiful and smart — you’re a beauty and brains.” Few of the people who have made this comment have sincerely meant it as nice but I’ve always felt that the root of the compliment stemmed from the idea that people cannot have it all. My mother has also made statements like it’s not about beauty and being smart, you have to have so and so — she believes in the ability to have it all. Most often than not, when I’ve received the beauty and brains compliment, people have been stunned more at the fact that I can be smart and beautiful more than the fact that I am beautiful. The two have been known famous oxymorons over the years. It’s why you hear guys say things like the girl was beautiful but when she open mouth ehn. I do not know if certain characteristics of people are mutually exclusive, but to make beauty and brain two things that stun you to exist together, is wrong.
Yes, certain times people feel better when there’s a lovely face and a lovely mind to put with it but when we are sharing this compliment, we must make sure that the intent and context is right. Does her being brainy stun you because she’s beautiful? Then please do not offer the compliment! Offer it only genuinely because you’re stunned by a woman that can have it all — because she actually can.