The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Cute Stops Competence …
August 29, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Oh to be beautiful.

To be able to walk in a room and have everyone immediately pay attention.

To smile and have all around you smile back at you.

To ask for help and have a thousand offers of assistance.

To speak and have an audience immediately captivated by your every word.

But what happens when you no longer are as fresh faced as you were.

When you realise that every word, smile, compliment and praise was based on your aesthetic than your beliefs?

When you see your star fade, only to be replaced by someone younger, cuter, funnier and more charming?

Of course I will never experience this because I’m 43 … I’ve always looked 43 and have a face only a mother could love.

The reason I’m writing all this is that many, many, many years ago, I watched a documentary called ‘Blue Eyes / Brown Eyes’.

In it, Jane Eliott – a schoolteacher – highlighted the ridiculousness of racism by getting people to imagine how we’d feel if we were judged by the colour of our eyes.

It certainly was an interesting experiment, but there was one scene in the documentary that really made an impression on me.

In the audience was a pretty young lady who responded to a question by acting in a coquettish, girly, charming way.

In an instant, Jane Eliott turned on this woman and told her to stop acting cute because all she was doing was destroying her self respect, self worth and potential for being taken seriously in the future.

Watching how this innocent young woman reacted was fascinating because while she was deeply hurt and upset, you could see that she understood what Jane was saying and that it was out of care, not malice.

And that’s the thing … as much as we all want to be liked, the older you get, the more you realise respect trumps likability which is why this clip is a good reminder to not let others define us, but to always be our own champion.

It helps you look in the mirror at night and like what you see staring back at you.

At least in terms of self respect.

45 Comments so far
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This is wonderful Robert. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Comment by Mary Bryant

Isn’t it great! I loved it and still love it. Finally I have written something you can show your girls as a lesson to follow, rather than do the opposite.

Comment by Rob

Girl power.

Jemma x

Comment by Jemma King

Funny how the first 2 comments come from women who rarely comment on here. I don’t mean funny because they commented, I mean it because it means they must always be here, just watching us like they’re the US government checking on our emails and phone calls.

Comment by DH

yep. we’re always watching, and we rate you on relative ‘cuteness’.

Comment by Farrah Bostic (@farrahbostic)

I could say a woman would be against cute when she looks like her but I’m not sexist so I’ll keep it to myself.

Comment by DH

Based on this comment, should keep everything to yourself David.

Comment by Mary Bryant

You have been told David.

Comment by George

Yes. Sorry Mary.

Comment by DH

When was this filmed Rob? I’ll take blondie out for a few beers and she can be as cute as she likes with me.

Comment by Billy Whizz

But if its so old she looks like the angry schoolteacher, she can forget it.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Unless she guarantees she will deliver the goods at the end of the night. (Sorry Mary, don’t hit me. Again.)

Comment by Billy Whizz

Oh dear …

Comment by Rob

You used to talk about this scene for years Robert. I am so glad you finally found it, all thanks to youtube I should add.
I agree with Mary, it is wonderful and certainly a lesson I’d like my 3 girls to know especially as they’re too cute for words and I secretly hope they stay that way.

Comment by George

Was your comment approved by Mary before posting?

Comment by DH

It will be hard for you mate because your girls don’t try and be cute, they are cuteness personified … so with that and their mothers smarts, they will take over the World.

Comment by Rob

Is this the same woman who did the Auschwitz experiment? By which I mean role-play not that she was a Nazi.

Comment by John

This is fantastic Rob. Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Pete

Reblogged this on Murray Galbraith.

Comment by @MurrayDG

If only I ever had the choice of being cute.
Excellent advice. Excellent post.

Comment by Lee Hill

Yes! Love this.

Comment by curlydena

So true! For me, the litmus test begins when they start talking. And yet the sway Cute continues to hold over most adult and sometimes intelligent males is fucking incredible.

Comment by animesh

You’re absolutely right … but as Jane Eliott says, there’s a magic point where all that power just disappears and while the rest of us move on without so much as a care in the World, the person who relied on looking their best rather than being their best is left on the side and I daren’t imagine how terrible that must feel and how much they realise they sold themselves out.

Comment by Rob

question, though: what’s the equivalent for men?

Comment by Farrah Bostic (@farrahbostic)

The phrase that comes to mind is “nice but dim”.

Comment by Pete

“lots of money but a real d***head”

Comment by andreea

And I can’t take credit for that, LOMBARD is a ‘thing’ someone (female) told me about

Comment by andreea

That’s a good question Farrah … it definitely happens, but what that is, I don’t know. Maybe Pete is right … there’s definitely a bunch of guys I’ve met in my career whose charm got them places but eventually – over time – they get seen as having lived off it rather than built their credibility around it.

Of course, there are men and women who are smart and cute and respected and they make me sick. Ha.

Comment by Rob

An obsession with gadgets and the music of their youth?

Comment by John

“Being broke is childish and I’m quite grown”.. is something jay-z once said.. and he was referring to rappers who on the outside appear to have fun and spend money on foolish things but when they buzz dies down are left with nothing but IRS claims..

while not exclusive male territory, obviously all genders are prone to overspending, it does lead to a stereotype that hollywood has been playing up in recent years to it’s male audience..

the man-child/ the lad (or if you want to be an total asshole you’d call them hipsters in this decade, though hipster bashing really is soooo boring, but that is for another time and place..)

the one who refuses to take responsibility for actions and is in a perpetual state of doing new things that are fun and status enhancing in your youth (or frat days), but kinda look weird as you progress through life..

(the whole “hang-over, will ferrell, david brent” type of movie genre)..

And while holds little appeal to many, ensuring that people can rely on you for more than just a good time, and know that you will be there when times get rough, is something men need to re-understand.

So if woman should not be cute, guys should stop trying to act like they are still “that guy from 20 years” ago..

Not saying don’t be cute, or always act older than your age (as both elements, when used correctly, can actually help break the ice for other qualities to shine through, humans being like that., plus nobody is one or the other all the time anyway)..

Man-child.. that is I guess the male cuteness syndrome..

I am still full of anesthesia, so it might make more sense to me right now than to you, but man/child..

Comment by niko

Brilliant, one day I’ll show this to my little girl.

Comment by northern

In addition to that:

Comment by philipdm

Obviously I’m no Robert Redford, which is a shame since I don’t seem to respected that much either

Comment by northern
Going by the bottom picture are you sure you need to rely on respect? Smokin’

Comment by northern

As seen in GQ North Korea.

Comment by Rob

This is awful. Firstly – since when has publically humiliating a young women and then airing it on TV been acceptable, let alone out of care? It’s an ego trip for the speaker and bullying dressed up as “advise”.

Secondly, why does cute stop competence? Competence stops competence. Who cares if you are cute as well. Advising people to adapt thier personalities to be able to conform to external expectations is always worrying. Instead just be competent and good – and enjoy being who you are – of that’s cute as well so be it. This approach just promotes people to live up to stereotypes and prejudice – rather than tackle it.

Comment by Daniel

That’s great advice of course, but unfortunately some us have experienced people who are not that talented, or at least don’t try, do very well. Ad agencies are ridiculous for their adulations of youthful looks.
I’ve certainly seen the same people drop like a stone when age kicks in, or younger better looking models creep in.
No one would disagree that looking great and being great are totally mutually exclusive, but the sad truth is that stereotypes tend to reflections of the truth.
Telling people not to adapt their personality by the way is frankly naive and, people who do that are disrespectful to those around them. No one is the same in every variation of company.

Comment by northern

for your sake i hope youre as hot as fuck daniel.

read the fucking post. campbell is saying people who rely on being cute to get what they want can end up fucking themselves over because they dont get competent at anything and at some point in the future, it wont work any more and theyre fucking doomed. not everyone is like that, some bastards are smart and cute, but theres more than a few of the fuckers out there who just rely on their giggles and if you dont see that then youre a fucking lucky bastard. or a hermit.

you are right on one thing, people should feel more confident to be themselves in every situation but few fuckers are. pretty much everyone adapts their personality slightly for the situation theyre in and if you dont realise that, you might be even more fucked.

and when was it ok to publically humiliate a young woman and put it on tv?

have you watched the shit the networks are putting out these days? that doesnt mean its right but the fucking audience figures those shows get fool tv execs into thinking it is.

out of interest have you got children? a daughter? i might be wrong but im guessing you havent and i can tell you this, id want my daughter to see this when shes old enough though she will be one of those smart and stunning types so it wont make any sense to her.

Comment by andy@cynic

Bonnie is bringing out a side of you I like Andrew.

Comment by Mary Bryant

He’s back. And this time he’s a proud daddy. No one stands a chance.

Comment by DH


Comment by northern

Advising people, especially the young, to pander to prejudice is very troubling. It’s always harder to stand up for who you are but, just because it is harder does not make it the wrong thing to do. We need to foster a respect for diversity and, for those who face prejudice help them to be resilient enough to fight the food fight.

Comment by Daniel

I agree with your point about promoting diversity but what about also promoting self respect and self worth? What you see as an attack on character, many people on here seem to see as a celebration of personal value and individuality.

Comment by Pete

I remember not long ago Nike taking on the same subject in the form of ‘cute doesn’t win games’, which encapsulates it nicely when you think about it. Competition is hard, so whatever you’re winning with ‘cute’ is probably not the ‘real deal’. Just my take on it.

I love your point about respect trumping likeability. The best advice someone gave to me was that you can’t be someone’s boss and their friend at the same time. While it doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly to them, you have to draw a line so that no one feels like they’ve been mislead.

One thing in the video that stands out for me and doesn’t get a lot of airtime is that both women and men are infantilised through their names. Even if your name isn’t a Betty or Susie or something, I know that if I had a child aged 20-something I would probably tell them to fight any kind of nickname that infantilises their name, boy or girl – you can’t (and maybe won’t want to be) a ‘Robbie’ all your life when you’re a Robert or Rob.

Comment by andreea

[…] Racism is everywhere and unless we fundamentally deal with it, society is on the fast track to devolution. A good way to start might be to get everyone to watch this. […]

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