Some words at their mere utterance herald an event or request that I know is going to make me grind my teeth. The three most offensive words are “cute,” “should” and “need.
Why do some people refer to older women as “cute”? Why not attractive, handsome, stylish, lighthearted or comical?
When someone describes an older woman as “cute”, I don’t like it. The word has a tendency to diminish the capabilities and accomplishments of an older woman. It infers you are no longer in the game.
How many intelligent women are referred to as “cute”? Kittens are cute; puppies are cute; babies are “cute.” Cartoonish little old ladies depictions are not “cute.”
Sometimes difficult, ditzy, witchy and cranky are appropriate. I’d rather be described as “difficult” than “cute.” At the very least, if you are difficult, you are still out there.
I get anxious when I hear “should.” I just know I am going to hear about one of my shortcomings. The word implies action is required to correct a major failing. Other times it is given as a warning to prevent a horrible blooper.
It is often used in the Doctor’s office as an admonishment to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Why can’t he simply tell me to exercise, go on a diet and omit the “should”?
Who gets to decide “shoulds”? Are there special qualifications for “should issuers”? Is there some sort of requirement or certification prior to issuing “shoulds”? It seems to me that more often than not these self-appointed gurus might consider addressing their own issues prior to telling the rest of us what we “should” do.
A friend told me my use of the word “need” really irks her. She feels it falls into the same category as “should”. After careful consideration, I decided she is correct. “Need” is “should” kicked up a notch and vastly more offensive.
It implies more urgent action is required immediately. I am relieved she pointed this out to me. It is a failing I “need” to correct. Perhaps I “should” be relieved if she chooses to describe me as “cute” as opposed to curmudgeon.
Note: Originally Published October 2011