What Makes a Woman Beautifull?

Whether it’s your favorite song on repeat, the text from your crush, or a thigh-grazing skirt you just can’t get enough of, beauty is everywhere. But beauty doesn’t just describe our external world—it can also define who we are inside. This is especially true for women.

What’s considered beautiful is largely determined by culture. What one group finds attractive may leave another cold or even repulsed. But what’s really behind that standard is a deeper, evolutionary purpose: to assess the qualities of a potential mate and family member. And this assessment, of course, is mostly done through the face.

For generations, the standards of beauty for a woman were incredibly high. A slender frame was preferred, but with generous, yet narrow, hips and shoulders. The eyes were to be large and luminous. Lips were to be full, but not distractingly so. Hair was to be long and golden—or at least a shade lighter than the rest of your body. The nose was to be angular and refined, while the jawline was sharp. Symmetry was to be a must, and grace and a noble bearing were desirable traits as well.

This type of beauty was celebrated in the pages of magazines like Vogue and Glamour. It was embodied in icons such as actress Catherine Deneuve, socialite C.Z. Guest, and Princess Grace. The farther a woman diverged from this idea of beauty, the more exotic she became. But that is beginning to change.

In the digital age, beauty has become less a matter of chiseled arms, false eyelashes, and a lineless forehead. The new beauty is a millennial strutting down the street in leggings, a crop top, and her rounded belly protruding over her waistband. Beauty is a man swishing down the runway in over-the-knee boots and thigh-grazing shorts.

The word beautifull derives from the Latin adjective beauteous, which means “pleasing” or “delightful.” So beauty is about eliciting a pleasant reaction from observers. This could mean the sight of a field of wildflowers, a vibrant sunset, or an abstract sculpture—anything that gives pleasure to the senses.

Beautiful is also related to the verb beautify, which means to make something more attractive or pleasing. So the brown spotted grass frog that a biology student spends all day studying might be unattractive to some, but to the student it’s beautifully fascinating.

Other similar words are comely, pretty, and handsome—all of which are synonyms for beautiful because they all mean exciting sensuous or aesthetic pleasure. But the key difference between these words is that comely and pretty imply that the pleasure is coolly approved rather than emotionally responded to.

For some reason, the suffix beautifull drops the second L, just as many English prefixes and suffixes do—welcome, welfare, altogether, alright, fulfill, etc. Interestingly, the word beautifull is also used to describe a person or object that has a good heart or virtuous attributes. Perhaps this is because beauty, like goodness, is universal and should be valued above all other qualities.