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describe looking up and down someone in a humiliating way (1 Viewer)

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Senior Member
Sometimes, a person looks at another person in a humiliating way. Their eyes moved up and down the other person and they mean to degrade that person with that look.


How can I describe that?

I found this:


But I don't think that connotes humiliation.

I know I can use adjectives like "withering" or "admonishing" but I want to know if there is a way to describe the movement of eyes up and down.

I apologize if this is not the right section to start such a thread.


Staff member
You have to think hard, because the "up and down look" IS a cliche. :)

I had a similar scene last night, and I included a different cliche, but had my character remark the other person didn't do it. Names have been changed to protect my innocent plot:

Gerald had done well for himself. My cab pulled up to one of those row houses in Knightsbridge where, if you want privacy with your neighbor, you can have conversations in Morse Code by knocking on the walls. Listings will brag about a garden in back. Honestly, they do. Still, the dwellings will run you north of ten million, in some cases, a whole lot north. Sotheby's includes them in the "luxury real estate" section. I dismissed my cab, and another one pulled up before he made the corner. Helen emerged. I'd never before seen her in Western street clothes. Her outfit, shoes, and jewelry might have made a down payment on this place. I was in jeans, trainers, and a polo. She looked like she might reside here, and I looked like I was meeting her to quote a plumbing repair.

Still, she didn't play the snob. One of us elevating their nose for a disapproving sniff will only bring forth a laugh in return. We go too far back, and know too much of each other's history.

I think you have to be careful using that. Most people don't do that kind of external judgement out of politeness, or simply because they're not class conscious. And when they do judge, I don't know that I've ever seen, in real life, the "up and down look" evaluation as a serious act. So you need to have a good reason for it, and you have to decide if you want to turn the reader away from the judging character. Here's my try at a good reason, and not making the second character unsympathetic. We have to brainstorm what circumstance befell the poor protagonist:

So there I stood at the door, mud covering the left sleeve of my jacket, my pants leg, and my shoe. On the other side was my best hope for my next sale. I rang the bell. The few seconds for Mrs. Johnson to answer the door seemed like an hour. When she stood in the open doorway, I was impressed at the way she aborted the shocked expression I anticipated. Still, her gaze started at my left shoulder and slowly examined me all the way down to my muddy shoe. Only then did she look back up at my face.

"I'm sorry for whatever happened to you, but if you think you're coming into my house like that ..."

So my point is, if you're going to do it, don't make it a throwaway cliche. Play it up into a scene the reader relates to.


Staff member
Probably because people still do it.

I went on to discuss that I don't see people do it, at least not seriously. I see it in jest about once per solar eclipse. I believe it to be more of a writer's contrivance than an experience you're likely to suffer in real life.

Certainly, I see people look at how someone is dressed, but I don't see it used openly for the sake of disdain, and that's the discussion.


Senior Member
Yes, that is was what I was saying in deleted efforts from last night. Use the 'invisible hand.' Or slip in a #she didn't like me very much in my opinion.

River Rose

Senior Member
There was a look in her eyes I could not describe.
As she was transfixed on me.
The quirk of her smile
The way she scanned her eyes up and down my body
Sent a shiver to my core.
I tried my best to place this apparent disgust.
The humiliation of her displeasure over took me.
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