If I Look Tired, What Makes You Entitled to Comment on It?


“Ma’am, mukhang pagod ka (Ma’am, you look tired),” is a weird way to greet someone in the morning. This is especially true when you get it from your ridesharing service driver, or just about any acquaintance in your daily life.

Yet, I get it a lot and so do a lot of other women from various men in their lives.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t even greet my closest friends with a comment that could be potentially offensive. Pointing out a physical aspect of theirs, true or otherwise, can put them on a defensive mode. It’s like that mandatory “Ang taba taba mo na (You look so fat already)” comment from your aunt. It may or may not be true, but what’s the point of calling it out? If it’s concern, then it’s much appreciated. But usually it’s about body shaming.

So why is there a culture where men can get away with commenting on a woman’s physical state in the first five seconds of contact? If I am tired, I know it. But for it to be up for topic of conversation, for me to explain why I look tired, isn’t something that would delight me in my weariness. I can confide my woes to someone else, perhaps, to someone more compassionate.

And if I’m not tired, you’ve put me in a state where I have to prove I am otherwise.

A friend from Europe shared that he also found it odd, and came off to him like a weird display of machismo. Ah, why am I not even remotely surprised? A shaming comment veiled in concern already put the woman at a compromising position and asserts the man’s outlook. It almost connotes this message: “You look tired, I say so. Why do you look that way? You shouldn’t… since you’re a woman and you should always look good.”

Aside from this, I’ve noticed how the habit is innocuous, we’ve shrugged it off. I just noticed it recently but upon conversing with other friends and workmates, I realized it’s a microtransgression. Even the people who do it to women don’t really know what they are doing.

So the next time I got a comment about my apparent physical fatigue, I simply said “Is that really how you greet a person the first time you meet them?” in a colloquial fashion. You should have seen the guy’s reaction. He apologized immediately and was taken aback for hearing something new from his usual spiel.


Art by Lara Intong

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