Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Love Lounge: The Curse of Being Called 'Cute'

There's a four-letter word I hate even more than the word ma'am. It's a deep-seated hatred born from years and years of frustration and silent hair pulling. My internal monologue looks something like this...

"Oh, no, not this again."

"Do they know I'm 34."

"Should I tell them I'm 34"

"Don't they see just how uncomfortable this is making me?"

"I wonder how they'd feel if I called them 'cute.'

"What is it about me that screams such a childish word?"

Honestly, I'm not exactly sure when my relationship with the word 'cute' became such a hostile one, but I know that we can never go back to the way things used to be. Sure, it never bothered me when I was younger. That's just what people called you, I thought. Parents, teachers, doctors, babysitters -- to them, everything the under-10 set does falls somewhere on the cute spectrum. And that's fine because, hello, children are adorable.

But once you hit your teens? Well, 'cute' isn't so cute anymore. What teen -- and adult, for that matter -- wants to be regarded as 'cute'? I certainly don't. I'm not sure if it's my height, which is predominantly on the short side, or my painfully obvious innocence, but this cute label is sticking to me like honey to the beehive.

The same goes for those other sugary-coated words too, like 'dear' and 'honey' and, obviously, 'sweetie.' I always get this sick feeling in my stomach like the one I got that time I ate one too many Reese's at the movies -- totally wasn't worth it, by the way. My sister Janelle works in a coffee shop and I can't believe the number of times she's come home with another story of a customer who has addressed her by the name of something more suitable as a coffee ingredient -- the irony, I know.

And from my experience, there seems to be a discrepancy when it comes to men and women. You don't hear 'cutes' being flung around to describe men. Could you imagine what Magic Mike would say if you called him cute -- assuming he were a real person, of course! But sometimes, I can't help but feel like women are destined -- even doomed?? -- to wear this label around their necks like some sort of Scarlet Letter. Haven't we made so much more progress than that? Doesn't that feel like such an antiquated thing, almost as if it was old-time-y speak?
To be clear: This is not my attempt at the humble brag. I feel constricted and trapped by this label. It's one I can't seem to break free from and shout to the world, "I'm an adult. Can you hear me, world?" Because, really, that's all I want to do. At the end of the day, don't we all just want to be recognized for the adults that we've become?

My point is this: Cute is dismissive. Cute is patronizing. Cute is what you'd say as you're gushing over a cat video on YouTube. Maybe there's a better word for 'cute.' You know, a sophisticated, more grown-up version.

People used to tell me, "Oh, be glad you can still pass for cute. You'll appreciate it one day." Looking back now, I think they were confusing cute with young-looking. And for the record, 'one day' hasn't come yet. I'm still waiting for that day. Here's hoping it comes sooner rather than later... xoxo

[Photos via We Heart It]


  1. I'm called cute to my face sometimes, as most women are. I dislike it, and often think it's a way of putting me down subtly for whatever reason (one of those backhanded 'compliments' that women are supposed to feel grateful for). It also makes me feel uncomfortable because I have a round face and am on the short side and I suppose that gives people a certain perception of me.

    It's weird how judgmental people are of women hey?!

  2. I get where you're coming from, but I actually love the word cute, and don't mind being called it {which is 99% of the time}. Perhaps this has something to do with my self-professed Peter Pan Syndrome though...


  3. I don't mind "cute." Better than "matronly" which is where I'm heading.

  4. I had a customer who was about three times my age call me "cute" while he was relentlessly hitting on me at my work. It was not cute.

  5. Oh wow, this is good to know! I generally tell people they're cute when I think they've got a particularly put together outfit on and I've said it to women of all ages...


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