A List of Ways to Describe Someone Without Mentioning their Appearance

In this video, Zam and I discuss how commonplace it is in our culture (Indian & Nepali) for elders (aunties, uncles, parents, etc) to describe other people in shallow terms with a particular focus on the way a person looks, especially if it’s a woman.

The example she gave was of her aunty who talked about a young woman she had met as, “nice and pretty.” It signals a lack of awareness and empathy. It shows an unwillingness to connect on a deeper level with another human being where you can walk away being able to say more about them than a simplistic analysis of their appearance and a general rating of how ‘nice’ or ‘bad’ they were.

If you grew up around this way of talking about people, you may be doing the same on a day-to-day basis without realising. Or, like us, you may be questioning how we can change this part of our culture by changing the words we use to describe others.

Try these:

  • Reserved

  • Vivacious, Lively

  • Well thought-through, Considered

  • Friendly

  • Softly-spoken/Gregarious

  • Knowledgeable in the _____ field

  • Kind

  • Sincere/Insincere

  • Rude

  • Passionate about/Heavily involved in…

  • Social

  • Smart, Intelligent

  • Accomplished at/Skilled with…

  • Wise

  • Immature

  • Disciplined

  • Spiritual/Not spiritual

  • Adventurous, Ambitious

  • Determined

  • Empathetic

  • Carefree/Risk-averse

  • Creative

  • Intuitive

  • Too focused on _______ for my liking

  • Sensitive/Insensitive

These words are just a starting point. Please go ahead and add to the list in the comments below! Hope you found this helpful. Show it to your mum if she’s prone to sounding like Zam’s aunty!

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Sneha LeesComment