Some compliments are unkind. Even with good intentions, a pat on the back might offend. Especially when the remarks are about someone else's appearance.
Let's define our list before starting. Merriam-Webster defines a backhanded complement as a
You shouldn't promote Instagram's message that losing weight is the greatest thing to do.
The "for your age" qualifier makes this look insincere.
"Better" implies that "worse" existed. Sometimes honesty isn't necessary.
Instead of telling someone not to be sad, ask them why.
This statement implies that slimmer women are less womanly. No need to criticize when praising.
"Exotic" should be reserved for fish and birds, not humans. The term may be insulting when used to describe individuals.
Instead of employing a general descriptor—especially a negative one—compliment a remarkable trait.
People who don't have six-packs or bulging biceps nonetheless perform hundreds of crunches and curls daily.
If you're complimenting a buddy, don't imply that their clothes or cosmetics is against societal standards.