When I look in the mirror I see a woman who’s pretty, or beautiful, or sexy, but not cute. I think the reason is that it is my male self gazing lovingly at the female that I have turned myself into, and men generally reserve the term cute for babies, small children and/or young women but not mature women (there’s a cut-off age in there somewhere). And as men, or to be more specific, heterosexual men, I don’t think we generally think of ourselves or other men as cute.
When dressing, I think most of the time, we tend to strive for pretty or sexy instead of cute. But there’s an interesting difference between how men and women use the term. Women tend to use cute as a catch-all phrase (“those shoes are cute” “that’s a cute dress” “he’s really cute”, etc.) in place of terms like gorgeous, or sexy or beautiful. It’s almost like they are hesitant to use these more-effusive descriptors when complementing other women. Dunno if it stems from jealousy or competition or maybe it’s just damn easier to remain sort of neutral and simply say that something is cute.
In certain circumstances, I think a woman’s reference to another woman’s look as cute is a form of faint praise or even a sideways put down. Think of a woman who gets all dolled up in her best dress and sexy heels, only to have another woman describe her look as cute. Ouch. On the other hand, a man looking at her would use terms like drop-dead gorgeous or hot or what-have-you, but not cute.
Well, that sure ended up going off on a tangent! Please understand that these are just my personal thoughts, observations and biases. I hope I did not manage to offend anyone, because that would not be very cute, would it?
I think of the word “cute” as a synonym for attractive with a healthy dollop of affection. You, my dear, are gorgeous and may I add, wholly without putdown, cute!