Monday, September 16, 2013

...But Words Will Always Rate Me

This is something that has long since bothered me. And I need to get it off my chest.

Beauty can come in all shapes and sizes. While I’ve always been able to accept this for everyone else, it’s taken me some time personally to accept this fact for myself. When I express these thoughts, I’m always met with disbelief and positive affirmation: “You are handsome.”

And handsome has stuck. Many mothers have remarked handsome I am. Friends have told me how handsome I look. Guys tell me how handsome I am in my pictures.

The part that bothers me, however, is that handsome is never used to describe the underwear model in magazines. He gets hot, sexy. The movie star will be called beautiful, a gorgeous if his fan is especially adorning. Rarely, however, do these men get a handsome.

The issue I have is not a personal one; it’s not about the fact that I’m being called handsome, or being called it instead of other words. The issue is this: in our words and our adjectives, we have begun to rank beauty and put different forms of it above another. Someone that’s handsome is never sexy, and someone that’s hot is never handsome. While beauty comes in different shapes and sizes, why do our words have to make some forms of beauty better than others? If all people are beautiful, why do we distinguish between them so that some are less than others? Why is beauty put on a hierarchy?

I might be overanalyzing, or I might not be. 


  1. Hmm, don't know quite what to think of this one. Do you know people who are called "hot" or "sexy" to their face? In some contexts, maybe, but--for my part--someone calling me something like that to my face (in most contexts) would really be a turn-off.

    I would hardly say this is a case of a "beauty hierarchy." It's more of an observation of people naturally responding to cultural context.

    Or maybe I'm just totally out of touch with broader culture.

  2. I remember distinctly deciding in college with my roommates that there were three types of beauty. (Beauty, cuteness, and hotness.) Perhaps this is the male version. I dare say cuteness, though not the most masculine in connotation, has an application for men, as do handsomeness and hotness.

    There are just different types of attraction, and when people lust after anyone they tend to use words like hot or sexy. It's the kind of thing you think about someone, or that you only tell others when it wouldn't be inappropriate. Someone likely has said that about you (I have NO idea what you look like, but it's fairly likely.) Handsomeness (or beauty on our college scale) is those that are more classically attractive. Just the kind of people with solid looks that anyone can appreciate.

    Maybe I've already overanalyzed this for you? haha Thanks for the distraction. Hope any of this novel/comment was worthwhile.

  3. Yeah, I agree with Trev - you never tell someone that they are "hot" or "sexy" to their face unless you were looking to be at least a little crass. That being said, I feel like all guys fall somewhere on a continuum from "handsome" to "cute." If you're on the handsome side, it's just a qualitative thing and has nothing to do with how attractive you are, and the same thing would go for cute. Meanwhile, I totally empathize with you - I hate it when my fiance says I'm "handsome" because it just doesn't sound that positive. I want to be hot or sexy or cute, even though I know he means it as a compliment!

  4. I have my own rankings for Hot, Handsome and Cute.

    Cute - Snuggle worthy, adorable, just-want-to-put-in-my-pocket.

    Hot - Wanna bone.

    Handsome - Cute and Hot

    When I call someone handsome, its the highest form of compliment I can give (when it comes to looks)