Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

About a week ago, I had my hair styled in a way that is far different from the cut I’ve had for the last 15 years. The reaction has been mostly favorable, but one acquaintance said, “Why did you change your hair? It looked a lot better the way it was!”

I was hurt by her rudeness. Frankly, I am writing you so that I will feel better when you say she was rude. She was. Right?

Short and Sassy Now, Kilmarnock

Dear SSN: We’ve all been told, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” As correct as those words are in themselves, their message could be extended to say, “and why would we want to?” Isn’t it also true that variety is the spice of life? If you feel good about your new look, that should be all that really matters.

A fitting response to such a negative comment would have been, “I understand that you don’t particularly like my hair this way, but I don’t understand why you would say that.” Or you could simply say, “Really?” and no more.

The fact that your detractor felt it necessary to make a disparaging comment is witness to her lack of social skills. In other words, it was indeed rude of her. Unless we are invited to give our opinion on another’s looks, it is not our duty to pass judgment. A Biblical admonition on the subject is “Judge not that you be not judged.” I believe that, dear SSN, would have been a real conversation stopper.

Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite LLC. You are invited to email your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at