None of these answers hits upon the simplest dynamic in the simplest way:
- women compliment other women to be nice as a relational act.
- men compliment women to show their approval as a value judgment.
So, if you're a woman, and you cut your hair short, you can perceive the following:
- women who compliment your new 'do want to be your friend.
- Men who compliment your new 'do actually like the hairstyle.
It really is that simple. As vast overly generalized stereotypes go, that is.