“You are beautiful…”
This phrase draws a small smile or a blank stare from me, depending on the intention behind it.
It draws a small smile when it is said by people who genuinely mean it, by people who see me as beautiful and say it, without any ulterior motive.
It draws a blank stare when it is said by people who have an agenda, by people who want something and have figured out that when the word ‘beautiful’ is said to a woman, especially to an insecure and fragile one, it can be a very effective weapon.
Ask most women you know what their favorite compliment is, and I bet you over 90% of them would say this: “When people say I am beautiful.”
Why do women feel this way?
From my experience, women, rich and poor, young and old, are obsessed with the idea of beauty. This is because, in our society, beauty seems to be an asset whose importance cannot be overemphasized; It seems beauty opens doors, attracts attention, finds rich husbands, builds careers, social media following and empires.
It is the assumption that a beautiful woman has an easy, crease-free life. Beautiful girls and women are celebrated, cherished. Ugly girls and women are mocked, shunned.
Because of the staggering attention and approval that comes with being beautiful, it is the ultimate compliment for us women to be told we are beautiful. It makes us smile, blush, laugh. It makes us feel good. It makes us do stupid things. It makes us do dangerous things.
Many men and women have discovered the power of saying, “You are beautiful” to a woman. They know that this word has the potential to open hearts, legs and bank accounts. So they use these words and use them well, to their ultimate advantage.
It is used in many toasting episodes.
A man sees a woman he likes walking down the street. He smiles at her, but she doesn’t smile back.
“Excuse me, sister, I was just walking by, and I just had to stop and tell you that you are so beautiful,” he says, though he doesn’t feel that way. Or maybe he does, but he is telling her, not because he wants to genuinely compliment her, but because he wants her to warm up to him.
The woman smiles.
It is used to escape consequences
A woman is late to work and she enters into her madam’s office. She smiles at her madam, but her madam’s face is set in a deep frown.
“Good morning Ma. You look so beautiful today. Ha! You must have rested well this weekend,” she says though she doesn’t really feel that way. Or maybe she does, but she is saying it, not because she wants to genuinely wants to compliment her madam, but because she wants to escape the consequences of being late.
The madam smiles.
Other missions that can be accomplished?
Access to a woman’s money and heart.
Consequences of these missions?
Hurt, Disappointment, Heartbreak, Betrayal, Unwanted Pregnancies, STD’s….
Why do we give the word “beautiful” so much power over us?
Why do we allow our emotions to be swayed and displaced because of this one word?
Why do we do things we wouldn’t normally do, just because people tell us we are beautiful?
A month ago, an older man was trying to date me. I was totally disinterested in him; I could tell he was a chronic womanizer. On a cold Saturday evening, he called me and said, “Elizabeth I have been meaning to tell you this. You are such a beautiful woman.” I knew the compliment was coming from an insincere place.
I responded in a tone devoid of any excitement, “Okay…”
His tone hardened. “Na wa for you! Other women would be happy that I told them that!”
“Why should I be happy that you told me I am beautiful?” I asked.
He had no response. He was expecting I would warm up to him, simply because he told me I was “beautiful”.
Six months ago, a young man stopped me on my way into my office building. “You are so so beautiful. So so beautiful! Goodness!”
He seemed genuine. “Thank you,” I said, already walking away.
“Can I have your number?” he asked.
I looked back and stared at him blankly. “No.”
He stared at me like I had a frog on my head. He was expecting I would give him my number, simply because he told me I was “beautiful”.
In these two cases, both men were trying to use the word beautiful to get me to do things they wanted me to do, and they were almost certain I would fall in line. They knew the power of the word. Many others know this power, too.
Beautiful is a word that should be used sincerely. If you see a woman who you feel is beautiful, tell her. But when you tell a woman she is beautiful because you are trying to get something from her, that is not a compliment; it is raw manipulation.
So how can we women protect ourselves from these manipulative people?
By simply stripping the word “beautiful” of its power.
In the true sense, beauty means nothing. It disappears. Here today, gone tomorrow. Many women, all around the world, have been able to accomplish so much without being beautiful, according to societal standards.
But in this crazy social media driven world, it doesn’t seem so. It is all about likes and followers. It is all about numbers. And to get these numbers, as a woman, you have to be beautiful. So it seems that there is no other way: either you are beautiful and successful, or ugly and unsuccessful.
But this is not so.
Beauty, when unaccompanied by other important qualities (intelligence, hard work, talent, perseverance, resilience, kindness, honesty, and many others) generates nothing useful: it is like having a fragile shell that looks lovely on the outside but contains nothing on the inside. One gentle push and it falls apart.
Even famous celebrities or all the famous women who we call beautiful might have gotten their first break of fame with their beauty, but it took a potent cocktail of the qualities I listed above to keep them there. And many other women have these qualities, without the beauty, and still, go on to do extremely well in their fields and marry well – its just that you don’t see them on Instagram and Snap Chat, posting selfies every day.
Being beautiful is not an achievement. It is not something to be proud of. Beauty won’t change the world, end terrorist attacks, find the cure to cancer and HIV, produce groundbreaking inventions, write great works of literature, stop global warming, raise good children, build happy families, keep a marriage …
I could go on and on.
If we think this way, the word “beautiful” loses its power. And when it loses that power, no one can use the word to get anything from us.
So the next time someone says, “You are beautiful” and you know they genuinely mean it, smile, say thank you and keep it moving.
But when you sense they have ulterior motives, give them one of the following replies:
a) I know. So what else is new?
c) You are beautiful, too.
d) Beautiful means nothing to me.
Do you have any “You are Beautiful” stories you would like to share?
Or do you have any thoughts concerning this issue?
Share them with us in the comments section below.