‘Beauty and brains’ is not a compliment

By : Vincent Mathosse


‘She is beauty and brains’ , linguistically this compliment rhymes beautifully and it is morally palatable than bread and butter.
However, this ‘innocent’ compliment carries with it unintended subliminal messaging. Firstly, it suggests that beautiful women are not cerebral beings like their male counterparts hence those who depict signs of intellect should be lauded as if it is a discovery of a new life saving antidote or drug.


Secondly, the ‘she is beauty and brains’ insults, yes I said it INSULTS in bold. It is an insult and assault to women’s competence. This so called ‘compliment’ perpetuates sexist stereotypes. It furthers the notion that beautiful women are plain stupid and incompetent pretty faces that flaunts their beauty to be in-front of the queue.
In the discourse about privilege, I stumbled across ‘pretty privilege’ and I think it exists despite the fact that there are those who argue that being pretty attracts harassment, sexual violation and etcetera and because of that ‘pretty’ does not qualify as privilege. To a degree we can agree that good looks and beauty makes people likable and affords them more opportunities than less attractive and average looking individuals. However, it is sexist and biased to associate competence and intellect with beauty and gender.


Another disgusting fact with the ‘she is beauty and brains’ compliment is the volume of entitlement that men have on the intellectual prowess of women. Imagine giving entitled bullies a glimpse of your beautiful brain free of charge. If people, especially men demand beauty and brains they must at least compensate you for stretching your brain muscles.
I know that those who share such sentiments mean no harm neither are those women who have embraced them. Nevertheless, I don’t object to women to personally acknowledge that they are more than just pretty faces provided that they don’t alienate other women for their views and that their personal views are not a standard to feminine beauty and intellect.
Also, the is nothing wrong with being a beautiful and an average thinking human being.

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128 thoughts on “‘Beauty and brains’ is not a compliment

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