Why Are Women Always Complimenting Each Other on Their Looks?

"That dress looks great on you" or "Those are really cute earrings."

Why are women always complimenting each other on their looks?

Beyond the explanation that it's just a genuine compliment, perhaps the following forces are at work:

1. Reciprocity — The oldest trick in the book. When you tell someone she looks good, you're likely to get a compliment back.

2. Tribalism & Social Bonding — By complimenting someone, you're saying, "You're my friend. I like you."

3. Reaction Formation — This is the phenomenon where an anxiety-producing emotion ("I hate that she has a skinny body and I don't") gets replaced by its direct opposite ("I love your look today!"). Women feel threatened by attractive women. In this page of Jessica Alba bikini photos, the comments are telling: "She looks awesome. Gawd I hate her…" is just one.

Could it be that a good portion of the body image pressure women feel comes from the non-stop, public judging of other women on how they look?

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