Do you know what pretty girls are?

You will say, I think, that you know what pretty girls are. You know the taste of their scent, the smile of their laugh, the magic of their voice. You know their face in the second before it smiles, in the moment before it laughs, and you think you know heaven given human form when she touches your skin – soft and gentle, smooth and electric – stretched taut across your tingling arm. You will look at eyes coloured deepest blue, or skin so pale that she shimmers as if a ghost on foreign isles – but she is not a ghost, she is there, flesh and blood, an angel given lease to dwell upon the earth, a siren let loose upon the world, because surely she couldn’t be anything else, because only myths have that stunning face and glorious form, only goddesses possess that scent that is at once the most beautiful and delectable sensation wafting off her skin. You will look at her, and call her tall, and thin, and beautiful, and in the heart of your mind you would label her pretty and dwell, in your dreams, upon the set of her eyes and the curl of her lips.

But then you are probably a fool, because you do not know what pretty girls are. You would think them a grotesque mockery of everything that makes women beautiful, a gross travesty of everything that women are to men. You would demean them, and belittle them simply by equating looks with prettiness, to genetic chance and random fate with beauty. You know nothing – nothing – of just how pretty women can be.

Contrary to popular supposition, looks do not always make a woman beautiful. A pretty girl need not be six feet tall, with cherry-red lips and startlingly dazzling smiles. A pretty girl could have eyes that are the brown of earth, or the green of evergreen trees swaying softly in the wind. She could have hair that is long and unkempt, glasses on her eyes and braces on her teeth, and yet she would still be pretty, even to the lowest, most common being upon the earth. Dust and soot may coat her skin, rain soak through her clothes and make her shiver and shudder in the fury of the storm that engulfs her, and still only a fool and a heartless demon could dare call her unbeautiful.

But perhaps I digress. I intended to write an essay on pretty girls, pure and objective and impartial, and already I have called my reader a fool and lambasted them for their ignorance of true feminine beauty – certainly I have digressed from the point. No matter. I will begin again.

You may wonder what the point of this exercise is: what I intend to establish, to dissect and argue. That is a valid question, and it has a valid answer: to try to explain what, exactly, makes women beautiful from men’s point of view, and that is a difficult thing.

Where to begin? It is no secret that men like women who come close to their ideal of perfection: tall, buxom blondes, perhaps, with wide, narrowing curves that roll as they walk. Perhaps a feisty redhead, or a pale, raven-haired woman would satisfy our criteria nicely, but the important part is not the colour of their hair. What makes a woman pretty is not something so superficial as hair colour; nor do we look for deep philosophical observations on the universe and the cosmos to conclude that a girl is pretty. Yes, the shape of her face matters, the way her eyes and her nose and her lips and her hair come together to create what would be inspiration for an artist matters, but these – these are secondary considerations, these are nothing to what really makes them beautiful. Counter to popular conception, we look, quite frankly, at character.

Ah, but you laugh. You roll in your seat, snorting and shaking with laughter, positively howling at what must be the most ludicrous statement of all time, but it is true. Men, whom society has vilified as indifferent, heartless cold bastards who want only one thing, look at the soul and not the face; we judge, as critics might a masterpiece, certainly by hue and colour and tone, but just as much by subject and rendition, as much by passion, as much by sheer force of will as we may brightness and intensity. We may be attracted, yes, to looks, but to steal and captivate our hearts, we require the soul; we must know what women are like, in the deepest, darkest corners of their heart. Only then do we deem a women pretty, or a girl beautiful; in the meantime, they’re just hot, or sexy, or sultry, or one of a hundred other names that serve to pronounce them under judgment.

Men – real men, not cold, calculating, indifferent manipulators, and they are not rare – would be revolted to spend their time with a snobbish prude. We would detest every moment of every second spent in such a woman’s company, witnessing firsthand just how cruel humans may be to each other, watching with naked eyes the extent that we may scar each other, bruised and bleeding bloody. Such a woman as this – no matter how fiercely beautiful she may be, no matter how stunning, how dazzling beneath the rays of evening sun – is ugly, malformed and disfigured, a pitiable wretch to be despised for what it is worth; we do not tolerate superficiality when we are serious, have no truck with obsessive vanity and sharpened viciousness. These are traits we would stamp our feet upon, loathsome and repulsive as they are. Those who would be willing to spend their time with such women cannot really be called men in the real sense; despicable perverts, on the other hand, would suit them nicely.

We are willing to overlook minor defects. We can get past glasses, or braces; even weight is only occasionally a problem for us if we admire a women for what she is. A real woman – a real woman should be able to make us love her for what she is, and like a Platonic ideal, is independent of who she is. A girl is pretty if we can find within her a ray of light that blossoms in the darkness; a girl is pretty if she can hold a conversation with sparkling intellect and humour. Do not doubt the importance of intelligence, because it is so highly underrated – we would rather not spend our lives with someone who struggles to understand simplicity itself. Intelligence is the thing that made humanity the giant that it is now – why would we not look for it in women, so understandably our better halves upon the earth?

Pretty girls are not always the ones we look twice at. Sometimes, they are the ones we would look once at, and never need to look again, because memory has sealed for them a place in our heart forever.

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