I was at Walmart this evening and overheard a snippet of a conversation between two other shoppers. I didn’t hear much, and really didn’t care to, but what caught my ear were these three words:
“No offense, but…”
This phrase grates on my very soul, because what it means is:
“Brace yourself, because I’m about to say something that is most definitely going to offend you. And, because I’m prefacing the impending insult with “no offense, but” you have absolutely no right to get angry, and if you do, you’re the jerk here.”
I’m pretty sure my ears and heart are directly connected, because as soon as that phrase exits someone’s mouth, my blood pressure begins to rise, and I can feel my face get hot.
So, anyhoo, I’m walking through the lingerie department and hear the following piece of a conversation between two ladies I’ll affectionately refer to as Mary and Jerkafina.
Mary:: Look at these! I love boy shorts. They’re so cute.
Jerkafina:: No offense, but (my ears perk up and BP starts to rise) boy shorts just aren’t for bigger women. Try those. They lift and tuck.
Jerkafina:: Seriously. Do yourself a favor. You can thank me later.
I know it’s not polite to eavesdrop, but I couldn’t help but overhear. It’s not like Jerkafina was even trying to be the slightest bit discreet while she tore her pal’s self-esteem to shreds.
I’m generally not a confrontational person, but it took a whole lot of willpower for me not to interject. In fact, what held me back wasn’t etiquette or my mom’s sage advice about keeping my nose out of other people’s business. What compelled me to walk away was trying to save what tiny thread of confidence Mary might have been grasping onto after having someone close enough to her to be shopping for panties together basically tell her that her body wasn’t pretty enough to pull off wearing the underwear of her choice.
I realize Jerkafina was supposedly trying to help her friend make a better choice for her frame, BUT you couldn’t convince me for a millisecond that she didn’t know what she was about to say was going to be hurtful.
Ya know know HOW I know?
Because she started it with: NO. OFFENSE. BUT.
I personally love to shop with a friend who I know is going to help me make great decisions about my clothes. In fact, I’ll only shop with people who will be honest with me and give me helpful advice that I can trust. That doesn’t mean that it would be acceptable for my partner in crime to be cruel when she’s helping me out.
There’s a difference between giving constructive advice and using the opportunity to point out something you perceive as a flaw…and in an unnecessarily harsh way.
In closing, a message for Jerkafina…
No offense, but your approach to “helping” your friend stunk so bad it could’ve knocked a dung beetle off a manure pile. There is an extremely clear line between being helpful and honest with a friend that’s asking for an opinion and being a judgmental grinch who’s careless with her words and relies on a simple, stupid phrase to make being cold and thoughtless okay.