I’m going to throw out a caveat right up front: Being a guy, I probably don’t know what I’m talking about. There! You’ve been warned.
Guys like pretty, no doubt about it, at least when it comes to their women. But then, women like their guys handsome, too. Yet, from what I have seen, women are a lot more likely to be attracted to a man who isn’t handsome than a man is to be attracted to a woman who isn’t pretty.
I mean, even ugly guys want their women to be pretty. It’s a law of nature. I don’t know about ugly women because I don’t know any; they’re pretty much an endangered species. And any woman who says she’s ugly doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
In my book, pretty is as pretty does. But, then, that understanding comes with age, and I have plenty of that.
Lovely, on the other hand, isn’t a word that guys feel overly comfortable using, especially when it comes to women. Somehow, the word lovely in a woman is less desirable than her being pretty. It’s like a step down in the desirability factor. But then, I’m not even sure most men even know what the word lovely means.
So, we’re going to dive right into that. Enter my 1982 Webster’s NewWorld Dictionary, Second Concise Edition.
Pretty is derived from the Old English word, prætig, meaning crafty. Prætig was evidently derived from the Old English word, prætt, which means a trick.
So, right off the bat, being pretty is standing on a pretty shaky foundation. Nevertheless, somewhere between the Old English and modern usage, the word pretty has lost its negative connotation.
In 1982 pretty meant “pleasing or attractive, especially in a light, dainty, or graceful way.”
Today, that definition would likely be considered politically incorrect and sexist. In fact, in today’s society, everything, including being pretty, is sexy. Even cars and houses are sexy, for heaven’s sake. I mean, come on; cars and houses aren’t sexy, they’re cars and houses. Sheesh! Madison Avenue strikes again.
Now, let’s go on to the word lovely.
Lovely didn’t display a derivative root, but likely came via the word, love, which was derived from the Old English word, lufu, which was as far as the dictionary took it. So, whatever lufu meant, we may assume that lovely is a descendent from that.
In 1982, lovely meant, “having qualities that inspire love, admiration, etc.; specifically, a) beautiful b) morally or spiritually attractive c [colloquially] highly enjoyable,” as in “a lovely party,” with a definite slurring of the words l-uuuv-ely p-aaar-tay.
Here’s how I see it: The difference between being pretty and being lovely is the difference between physical appearance only and overall personality, but also including the physical.
One can be naturally pretty—that is, no makeup need apply. Or one can be made-up pretty, where the real woman is hiding behind a mask of colorful chemicals, which your skin absorbs into your body, by the way. Not such a good idea, health-wise.
Then, there are those who are not pretty at all. These have been placed under various labels such as homely, plain, unattractive, and so on. Worse still, one can be downright ugly, although that is more likely to occur among men than women.
Actually, I’ve only met one woman in my life who I would classify as ugly. And even she, if you looked at just the right angle, had a lovely smile. And I mean this in all seriousness, not to disparage.
Of course, the biggest pushers of pretty are Hollywood and the fashion industry, although I wouldn’t classify most of what I’ve seen in the latter category as being pretty—at least from what I have seen on magazine covers. However, one’s taste does change with age, at least mine has.
So much emphasis today is placed on being pretty that it can make one who is less than pretty depressed and even suicidal. Couple that with, “the guys go after the pretty ones,” and you have a pretty desperate situation, in many cases. It’s sad and, apparently, a law of carnal nature.
To me, being pretty is pretty much an ego thing. Far better to be lovely, whether pretty or not. But then again, that philosophy comes with age.
Where pretty is pretty much a fleeting thing, fading with age and dried-up makeup, lovely is forever. And being lovely truly can overcome the lack of being pretty.
At least, that’s how I see it. And if you disagree with anything I have said, refer back to paragraph one.