Woman with hand by her mouth and text that says 'boy pretty vs girl pretty'

NinaMalyna/Shutterstock (Licensed)

The ‘boy pretty vs. girl pretty’ debate

…now wait a minute.

 

Anna Good

Memes

The boy pretty vs. girl pretty TikTok trend divides women into two categories: “Girl pretty” women are attractive to women, while “boy pretty” women are attractive to men.

The trend has sparked a debate about social media setting yet more unachievable beauty standards and insecurities for women.

A tweet that says, 'now wait a minute' followed by two screenshots from a TikTok comparing boy pretty and girl pretty, where all the 'boy pretty' women have glam makeup and long black hair, while all the 'girl pretty' women are the girl-next-door and blonde or light brown hair.
@piscespari/X

The history of boy pretty vs. girl pretty

A white woman with long brown hair sitting on the ground in front of a sunset looking off to one side. Overlay text reads, 'Being girl pretty but not guy pretty
@piscespari/X

The first social media post about this TikTok trend stems from TikToker @burnt.siennuh, who posted a simple video on October 21st, 2023 of her looking dejected, sitting on the ground with a sunset in the background as she lip-syncs along to Club Heaven by Nessa Barrett.

The overlay reads, “Being girl pretty but not guy pretty <”. The viral video has been viewed over 3.4 million times.

@burnt.siennuh

I dont understand

♬ club heaven – Nessa Barrett

Meanwhile, influencers have taken up the trending meme, describing for their viewers what they think is the difference between the two looks.

What is the difference between girl pretty and boy pretty?

As with all “either/or” beauty standards, this latest one says that some women fall into the category of being attractive to women, while others are attractive to men—whether this is by way of how those women wear their makeup and hair or just their natural appearances.

Makeup artist Mirta Miler (@mimiermakeup) explained in a two-part series on TikTok that “Guys are always like ‘I like natural girls.’ Natural girls to them means at least medium coverage foundation,” which is unfortunately no surprise at all, since men in general can’t really tell when a woman is wearing makeup or not.

Miler added that the “male gaze is looking like you have no flaws but also looking like you’re not wearing a lot of makeup,” while the “’female gaze is all about falling in love with the imperfections.”

She showed off the differences in style by doing up her face half in a “girl pretty” look and the other half in a “boy pretty” look —what she referred to as the “angelic girl next door.”

@mimiermakeup boy pretty vs girl pretty orrr male vs female gaze makeup🤍 #makeuptiktok #makeuphacks ♬ original sound – Mirta Miler

Scientist Macken Murphy (@mackenmurphy), meanwhile, posted that the difference between the two versions of pretty is that, he claims, girl-pretty tends to favor thinner women, while boy-pretty is women who are less model-thin and more curvy.

Screenshot of a TikTok with a blond man in the background, with 'BOY PRETTY VS. GIRL PRETTY' in huge font covering the screen.
@mackenmurphy/TikTok
@mackenmurphy Three things on the science of “boy pretty vs. girl pretty.” #beauty #dating #psychology #science #fitness ♬ original sound – Macken

Influencer Alxandra (@axandraaa) sees the differences more in terms of hair, but given her focus on hair content, this isn’t surprising. “Girls with bangs: only girl pretty. I feel like men don’t care for bangs.” She also believes that short hair on women is pretty because men are “’obsessed with long hair.”

A brunette woman lying on a white fluffy blanket, holding her hand to her chest. Captions on the image read, 'every man that I've met does not like bangs actually.'
@axandraaa/TikTok

Why are many on social media calling out this scale of attractiveness for being ‘problematic’?

The girl-pretty/boy-pretty debate has been boiled down by many as being misogynistic and male-gaze-focused; yet another way for women to deem themselves “less than” or not attractive enough, whatever that means.

Given the fact, especially, that no one seems to have a clear understanding of what each of these supposed looks even looks like, it feels like a very subjective view, as well.

According to a post about the viral trend on Marie Claire, “The reason I can’t find a clear thread throughout this whole discourse is because there isn’t one. It’s not real. We are not ‘girl pretty’ or ‘guy pretty’. It is an invention.”

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