Today someone told me that I looked beautiful. A compliment, sure, and they don't come that often, which is why it got me thinking enough to write this post. I don't think of myself as beautiful. But I do think i'm reasonably pretty. (Passable, as my boyfriend would no doubt say!) And I think there is a very clear difference between being beautiful and pretty, i'm just struggling to define what it is.
With its turned up nose and rounded cheeks and chin, I would say my face was typically British. And that twee Britishness to me is pretty. Kate Winslet, Lily Cole, Samantha Janus, Katy Perry: these are all pretty women.
But they aren't beautiful. Beauty to me is looking striking, unusual. Having the kind of face that can make someone stare. Strong cheekbones, defined jawlines, thick set eyebrows and straight noses are beautiful to me.
Is this definition universal? Do we all have the same ideas of what beautiful and pretty are? Or do I admire in others what I don't have in myself? Do I perceive strong cheekbones and defined noses as beautiful precisely because they are the polar opposite of the feautures I have on my own face?
According to a recent study, North Americans and Brazilians identify beauty differently, especially around where your features are placed. I am also aware that perceptions of beauty change over time: women used to pad out their clothes to achieve the perfect hourglass figure, but now long and lean is the order of the day. Surely this must apply to facial beauty (or prettiness) as well? On some god-awful reality TV show I was watching an "expert" said that symmetry is very important in determining whether someone is perceived as attractive. But to me a symmetrical long nose will always be beautiful and a symmetrical little turned up nose only pretty. And it could just be semantics, but as far as i'm concerned, pretty will always be inferior to beautiful.
How do you define beautiful and pretty? Do you think there's a difference and, if so, what is it?
Love, Tor xx