The way to a woman’s heart, my friends, is a single word: beautiful.
Your girlfriend feels unattractive? Tell her she’s beautiful. Your wife is upset about something that happened at work? Tell her she’s beautiful. Your daughter feels awkward or uncertain? Tell her she’s beautiful. Your mother is stressing about the upcoming Thanksgiving meal? Tell her she’s beautiful.
What I’m not saying – no matter how much it sounds like it – is that it’s okay to disregard what’s actually being said and to give a pat answer of “You’re beautiful,” thus immediately correcting all wrongs your loved one feels. That’s not the case at all, and in fact, if you do this, you’ll just make things worse. Consider yourself warned.
What I am saying is that of all the single words that people use to compliment women, beautiful holds the most power. It is the compliment of all compliments, one we never truly expect, one we usually don’t even dare to hope for, but one we cherish most ardently. I challenge any woman to disagree.
The thing is, beautiful is a brilliantly multifaceted word, one that is nuanced and deep and all-encompassing.
- Pretty is a good compliment. Let’s not dis “pretty.” However, let’s be honest, “pretty” is entirely surface-focused. It describes only the outside.
- Cute is also fun once in a while, but beware overuse. After a while, being “cute” can become irritating and can make a woman feel like she’s being compared to a kitten. Trust me, I’m a small female. This one I know intimately.
- Sexy has its moments. Oh yes, yes it does. There’s fire in it. Fire can be good. After a while, though, fire sucks all the oxygen out. Put more clearly, sexy gets old quickly. Use it wisely and sparingly.
- Hot is the mean girl of female compliments. It’s the “pretty” of sexy… it’s exciting to be called “hot,” though it’s all about surface. It’s fun, but it’s shallow.
- Being called lovely can be, well, lovely. Lovely is similar to pretty, but it caresses in its nuances. There’s almost a sigh to it, a delicate stroke of the cheek, a kiss to the back of a hand.
- Adorable is the “cute” of lovely. Meow.
Beautiful outranks all of these terms in addition to the many others I didn’t include in this list. Why? Because beautiful, when spoken about a woman (as opposed to a shot on goal or a well-orchestrated sack of the quarterback), encompasses all of these words in one, but multiplied by many orders of magnitude. Then, added to this, are the elements of respect, awe, admiration and affection. In other words, beautiful reflects something more than surface appeal; it’s a recognition of deeper beauty. The tone of the word when spoken, or the context when written, determines the final interpretation, the amount of influence held by each aspect. No matter the balance based on the context, though, the broader nature of the word remains.
This past Sunday morning, as my family and I got ready to leave the house for the day, I took a final glance in the mirror. There stood my reflection, staring back at me – not a stitch of makeup on my face, glasses firmly in place, short hair unstyled and a bit crazy. Walking into the kitchen a moment later, I looked at my husband, smiled brightly and said, “Nothing more I can do, nothing more I’m willing to do this fine morning. The world will just have to deal with me like this.” He looked squarely at me, and in a tone that left no room for argument, stated simply, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re beautiful.” And from that moment on, for the rest of the day, beautiful is exactly how I felt, both inside and out.