Four-letter word

I am really getting tired of being called “cute.” It has gone from a sweet compliment to something demeaning.

I understand where it’s coming from. It doesn’t help I’m a short, Asian girl. In a way I have even grown into my outer appearance and this identity. I am the bubbly one, I am the curious, babbling one, I am the annoyingly (oh, but endearingly) stubborn one, I am the restless one. I am the child. I can’t really help that this is a lot of who I am, but I’d like to think I’d be seen as a three-dimensional person and not slapped with a glittery label pinning me to my appearance.

“Cute” is so shallow. Above all, it’s overused. It’s lost any meaning it ever had to begin with. Most of the time, I only get “cute” when I do something impulsively or otherwise stupidly. I don’t think I’m worthy of “you’re exquisite” but at least that sort of compliment has some weight to it. I feel like the only appropriate response to “you’re cute” is “aw, shucks” as I blush and giggle, which is an entirely stupid exchange in itself.

“Cute” is patronizing. All of a sudden I’m being compared to dainty, small trinkets or small, fuzzy animals. It compares me to puppies, yawning newborn infants, floral dresses, happy faces on inanimate objects. Being called “cute” makes me feel I can’t be taken seriously. “Aw, you’re cute” can very well translate into, “Nice try at doing something intended for adults like me, the speaker. But your efforts are amusing and oh, so adorable. Good show.”

bear

Cultural Teddy Bear feels my pain.

A good friend once told me that in one of my posts I was “So dramatic it’s adorable.” I wanted to cast myself out of civilization for eternity. “Cute” reduces my efforts in anything as a novelty. It diminishes everything I do and everything I say into something only worthy of an amused smile and maybe a cursory glance.

I hate “cute” because it makes me hate myself. I don’t want to feel like I have to change who I am or how I act in order to get the minimal respect I know I deserve. I don’t think it’s appropriate when it’s dismissive, diminishing, or when it stems from a part to describe a whole. I don’t want to feel ashamed for what takes a lot of time and effort, plenty of head-scratching and deliberation on my part to complete and feel willing to share with others. I don’t want to feel like I get special treatment the way I often do with male professors who soften their voices with me in class just because I happen to look a certain way.

Being almost objectified is not something I feel I should be flattered by. “You’re cute” begs the question, “So what?”

If you’re taking this personally, good. I’d much rather be called an egocentric, overreacting bitch than cute.

I will conclude with a few words by Jessica Day.

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