Project 25, No. 22: “Cute”
Everyone has their trigger word.
Mine is “cute.” “Cute” is for cartoon characters.
“Cute” is not something you should ever use in describing anyone who is eligible for a driver’s license.
It implies weakness. It’s condescending. It’s completely inappropriate in any work setting unless children’s toys or animated characters are involved. Something cute is slightly above average, and somewhat acceptable, and just generally without offense, without color and without interest. It’s something round with a smile on it. And in romantic contexts, it’s a term you use for dates who are mediocre, but nice. And so you reward them with the label of “cute” - the equal of a participation medal in after school sports.
“But Clare,” you may say, “It’s a compliment! I’m sure condescension wasn’t the intent!”
It’s definitely not a compliment.
When talking about somebody in a professional context, don’t add “pretty” to her laundry list of attributes. It’s quite possible to applaud a successful lady without also noting the fact that she might be considered a good sight for sore eyes.
So can we ban “cute”? I’d be forever grateful.
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