The Pros And Cons of Being Called Beautiful

Many people consider “beautiful” a great compliment.  And in many ways, it is.  If no one had ever called me beautiful during my entire life, I would feel really self-conscious.  But when I feel like “beautiful” is the only compliment I ever get, it has detrimental effects on my self-esteem.  Like most things in life, being called beautiful has its pros and cons.

Pro: It can help fight unrealistic beauty standards. 

Photo Credit: Youtube

Beauty standards for both male and female bodies are off the charts.  Everywhere we go, we see pictures of models Photoshopped to have fitter bodies, more symmetrical faces, and fewer blemishes than any person can really hope to have.  With all the focus on unattainable standards, it’s important to remind people that they are beautiful even when they don’t look like this. 

Con: It can give too much power to beauty standards. 

Gif credit: Jody Steel

If we overuse the compliment “beautiful”, it can have the reverse effect.  It makes people feel like “beautiful” is the only goal to attain, and they will strive too much for it.  I’ve heard too many times “you’re beautiful no matter what” when what people should really say is “you’re valuable no matter what.”  Beauty does not equal value.  When you are trying to tell people they are worth or that they have intrinsic value as a human being, do not use the word “beautiful”.  Try “valuable” or “worthwhile” instead.

Pro: It can acknowledge the work someone put into how they look.

When you pick an extra nice outfit or put in more work on your hair or makeup, it’s nice to be acknowledged for it.  If you get a change in your appearance, like a new haircut, then it’s good to hear that people notice it and like it.  At special events like proms or weddings, when everyone puts extra effort into looking their absolute best, everyone needs to hear they look good.  It’s hurtful when you look the best you can and no one appreciates it.

Con: It focuses on something you can’t control.

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

There’s a lot you can do these days to make yourself look presentable: makeup, face treatments, workouts, hair products.  But there’s a degree to which you can’t control things.  Some people are just naturally more lean and muscular, or have a more symmetrical shape, or have healthier hair, and others are less endowed in these areas.  People are born with a certain face or body, and there’s nothing they did to earn it.  Make sure to notice the things people can control, like their hard work and their kindness.

Pro: It can help fight gender inequality.

Photo Credit: Cosmetics Design

A huge hurdle for the feminist movement is beauty standards for women.  The western world tends to only consider thin white women with hourglass figures beautiful.  If we recognize women of all races and body shapes as beautiful, we will be one step closer to equality.  Although beauty standards are more stringent for women, men also face body image issues.  To have a more equitable world, we need to stop considering body image as a female issue and destigmatize men who don’t fit into traditional masculine body standards as well.

Con: Beauty really isn’t everything.

I know it’s cliché, but beauty really is only skin deep.  Somewhere, deep down inside, I believe everyone knows this.  If the only compliment you ever receive is “beautiful”, then it may lead you to think no one sees anything else in you.  You are so much more than your face and your body.  Throughout the course of your life, your character and your intelligence will get you further than looks.  Also, it’s important to note that no one will look the same in thirty years.  Our looks change, so if we put our value in our looks, we will struggle greatly as we age.

Acknowledging someone’s outward beauty is important and can help make their day.  But always make sure to go out of your way to compliment other parts of them as well.  If you are making a comment on someone’s appearance, try pairing it with something about their personality.     

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