You may look at a female college student sporting blue hair and think it’s flashy. Perhaps you feel the need to tell her this.

Why? It’s not your hair.

You may look at a young woman with tattoos covering her body and think she’ll regret that when she’s older. Maybe you decide to express that thought with her.

Why? It’s not your skin.

We all have different opinions on what is and isn’t attractive or appealing. Sharing an opinion that may be insulting, though, shouldn’t be on the top of your to-do list. Common courtesy says that action is plain rude. (This includes gossiping about said person within earshot.)

Women in particular seem most susceptible to receiving opinions they didn’t ask for. And, while a reason isn’t needed for someone to change their appearance, there may be a deeper meaning to something they’ve done you may interpret as “wild” or “indecent.”

After all, how would you know the blue-haired student’s mother and grandmother died within months of one another? You wouldn’t know how she took over the mother role for her little brother, or how she worked through school to help pay the bills at home. She hasn’t told you she’s learned life is fleeting, or how she intends to live it to the fullest on her own terms. She may dye her hair purple tomorrow.

You also wouldn’t know how badly the divorce ended between the tattooed woman’s parents. You wouldn’t know how she became borderline suicidal, or how she tried to ease the pain with the sharp end of a knife. She’s not shared with you her discovery about how some scars never heal, or how she finds solace replacing them with designs she’s happy to see. She may get a semicolon inscribed on her wrist tomorrow.

Finding peace after trauma is a process we all handle differently. We don’t always know a stranger’s background or what they’ve been through. Their appearance may not be visually pleasing to you. But if they’re happy, why ruin that feeling? It’s their appearance, after all, not yours. You don’t have to say anything.

If you widen your perspective just a smidgeon, you might notice the college student has a genuine smile. You might realize the tattooed woman has bright eyes. A compliment — not an insult —  can go a long way for someone who has been struggling.

Because, despite everything, they’re still here. They’re thriving. And that’s something to celebrate.