What do you think of when you imagine a “cute girl?” The term seems like it should be straightforward enough, whether you’re using the English word “cute” or the Japanese equivalent, kawaii. But one Japanese Twitter user claims that guys and girls use the word to mean vastly different things, and has even shared an illustration diagraming what she feels is the difference between what men and women mean when they talk about a “cute” girl.
If you’re a guy who’s studying Japanese, grab your notebook and write this down:
Kawaii ko wo shoukai shite.
That means “Introduce me to a cute girl,” and it’s a commonly asked favor among friends in Japan. However, sometimes guys find that their image of what constitutes “cute” is different from that of their female acquaintances they’re asking to play matchmaker, which led Twitter user Seruko to prepare an explanation in an effort to clear things up.
せるこ (@seruko) July 07, 2015
According to Seruko, the woman on the left, with the lighter colored hair, is what women mean when they say a girl is kawaii. The lengthy list of bulleted items defines her as:
● Fun to spend time with
● Properly fashionable
● Smiles a lot
● Has a lot of friends
● Etc., etc.
On the other hand, when men talk about a cute girl, Seruko says they’re talking about the woman on the right, who only needs to clear one condition to earn the title.
● Has a pretty face.
“I think this is what they’re thinking (probably),” muses the cat at the bottom of Seruko’s illustration. “Look, for women, ‘cute’ doesn’t equal ‘has a pretty face.’ So guys, stop saying ‘Introduce me to a cute girl’ and just say ‘Introduce me to a girl with a pretty face. But it’s not like I’d ever introduce jerks like that to my precious friends!”
On one hand, you can make the argument that with its inclusion of non-physical factors, the meaning of “cute” being championed by Seruko is the more enlightened of the two. On the other hand, though, the requirement of skilled fashion coordination is still a visual qualification. It also seems a bit harsh that having a large circle of friends is on the checklist, which sort of implies that women who are introverted or prefer to limit their social activities to smaller group of companions, by definition, aren’t “cute.”
In any case, if you’re a guy planning to use the phrase “Kawaii ko wo shoukai shite” sometime soon, it’s probably best that you and the listener hash out exactly how you each define kawaii, just to prevent any misunderstandings.