You got your beautiful, and you got your pretty

Perhaps some of you have caught on by now that I enjoy regarding the female form. I, as most men before me, have raised observing that form to a science, complete with its own jargon and erudite theses. My own system of appreciation is reflexive; my appreciation of the members of the opposite gender is for me a way to measure myself. Hour by hour I am changing, or perhaps looping, and I can measure my progress against the world around me.

James Thurber said the most beautiful women are in Spain. He was a good writer, so maybe he knew. Prague has her share, and San Diego, forget about it. When it comes right down to it, there are beautiful women everywhere. And life is good.

But surrounded by all this beauty, occasionally I meet someone who makes my heart stop. She may be beautiful, she may not be. Beauty, the physical form, the delicious curvatures, I’ll never get tired of it. But then there’s pretty. Beauty is form, pretty is substance. Pretty comes from the inside and flings itself outward in joyful exuberance, making the world around richer. Pretty is in the corner of a shy smile, the raising of a saucy eyebrow, the easy laugh. Pretty is different every time, reinvented and redefined by the few who really pull it off. Beauty is cheap next to pretty.

11 thoughts on “You got your beautiful, and you got your pretty

  1. Interesting semantic difference: I, too, have noted a difference between two types of attractiveness, but I use the terms in the reverse fashion. Pretty is nice to look at but shallow; beauty has underlying substance that shows through despite (or may even be stronger because of) surface flaws.

    Paris Hilton is pretty; Lauren Bacall is beautiful.

  2. And Marianna is Both! I have to agree with Carol Anne (could this be the first time in our years as siblings?) Pretty is the outside bit, beauty comes from within. Someone we consider ugly can still be beautiful.

  3. Frankly, neither word really gets it done. I believe that we need a new word that can adequately express the outward manifestation of inner beauty.

    Both “pretty” and “beautiful” have acquired too much conotational baggage (e.g. pretty boy, the beautiful people, etc.). Given modern medical technology and enough money, both “pretty” and “beautiful” can be purchased from a plastic surgeon. Inner beauty (for lack of the new word) can not be purchased.

    As Jer correctly points out, inner beauty (which he calls pretty) is observed (with heart stopping effect) in a range of ways (gestures, mannerisms, acts of kindness, indications of awareness of and interest in another human being) that go beyond physical appearance and reveal inner attractiveness based on character, personality, and consideration.

    So, Jer, what’s the word?

  4. You know, you’re right, there is a luminescence about pretty that I hadn’t appreciated before. I think it may be age related though; I know many beautiful women my age but pretty women always tend to be younger. Lots younger.

  5. Pretty is what attractive women start out with. Beauty is what they develop, if given a chance.

    Marilyn Monroe was pretty. She might have been beautiful, but we’ll never know. Madonna is pretty. She isn’t beautiful yet, but she’s growing in that direction — she’s working on projects with greater depth, less interested in sensationalism and more interested in art than she used to be. There’s an intelligence underneath that could well produce beauty.

  6. What about cute? Cute, obviously, isn’t beautiful (CA’s definition) but is something more than surface pretty. Cute is fun and spontaneous, and isn’t afraid to get dirty (either way you want to take it). Cute doesn’t spend hours getting ready, but still looks attractive. Cute is intelligent and conversations with her are engaging. Cute has “beautiful” potential she just doesn’t know it yet.

    I have always been called cute, never pretty, and only once beautiful, and I proudly claim cute because cute is just more fun.

  7. Cute’s good. I like cute.

    I’m still sticking with my definitions of pretty and beautiful as well. I didn’t coin “Beauty is only skin deep”, I don’t run beauty pageants, and I didnt’ write “Beautiful Girls.” I bet Playboy uses beautiful in its marketing way more than it uses pretty. Beautiful is lost, plastified, and Barbicated.

    Pretty, cute, spunky, vivacious, those are words that imply a joy of life bubbling to the surface. Those are the women I like to hang with.

  8. Beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes right down to the marrow in your bones!

    Beauty or Pretty? I’m picking Smoking Hot!

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