Created By: KingZeal on February 22, 2012 Last Edited By: KingZeal on April 23, 2013

Delicate Is Beautiful

The corollary to Women Are Delicate

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Or, alternately, Beauty Is Delicate.

Along with the common stereotype is that Women Are Delicate, beauty is associated with delicacy. This has some justification in Real Life. If you believe in evolutionary psychology, mammals are wired to see cuteness and weakness as one and the same thing, because mammals usually take longer to develop and need a loving parent to nurture them. There's an assumption that something powerful or tough enough to take care of itself or destroy things must also be physically scary or intimidating to boot. To further demonstrate how nature seems to agree, cats are well-known to stand rigid and let their coats rise on end to appear more frightening and tough. Likewise, male lions have a manes to appear Large and in Charge.

However, like all identity labels, this one is not absolute.

No Examples, Please. This is meant to only be a collection of subtropes.

List of associated tropes.

Played Straight

  • Beautiful Slave Girl: She's beautiful, but forced into servitude to invoke the audiences' (and The Hero's) sympathy.
  • Brawn Hilda: Enforces this trope by portraying tougher/larger women as unattractive.
  • Coy, Girlish Flirt Pose: A more delicate and graceful pose to attract a romantic interest.
  • Distressed Damsel: Women are often kidnapped in fiction to provide a power fantasy for men and a danger fantasy for women.
    • Go-Go Enslavement: Pushes the above even further by having the kidnapper sexualize the kidnap victim. (Can be gender-flipped, though.)
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady
    • Bishounen: Literally means "beautiful boy", and typically invokes giving a man delicate features in order accentuate his beauty.
  • Elegant Classical Musician: The delicate touches of classical music are cosnidered more elegant or "beautiful", and the musician's look compliments it.
  • I Broke a Nail: Used either to show that the speaker isn't an Action Hero(ine), or that being an Action Hero(ine) has aesthetic consequences.
  • Innocent Flower Girl: A delicate girl is associated with the beautiful and equally-delicate flower.
  • Love Goddess: Most mythic pantheons have at least one. Also, the wife of the Top God is usually connected to matrimony or family in some way.
  • Masculine Lines, Feminine Curves: Curves are more delicate to draw and more "beautiful", so they're associated with women.
  • Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty
  • Moe: Moe is this trope distilled into an art form. The entire point of it is to instill feelings of protectiveness and sympathy for the adorable character.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: The direct subtrope to this.
  • Proper Lady
    • English Rose: The English archetypical beauty; usually a fair-haired, fair-skinned woman with a regal nature, delicate nature, and posh sophistication.
    • Southern Belle: The American South archetypical beauty; usually motherly, delicate, kind, and fiercely devoted to family and tradition.
    • Yamato Nadeshiko: The archetypical Japanese beauty; usually expected to be demure, modest, and well-mannered and fiercely devoted to family and tradition.
    • Princess Classic: The beautiful princess as the epitome of grace, poise, delicacy and beauty.
    • The High Queen: When the Princess Classic ascends.
  • Vanity Is Feminine: This trope creates the perception that those who overly care about their appearance are feminine.

Averted

  • Amazon Chaser: Sometimes, a woman defies delicacy in preference for violence and this character still considers her attractive, or even prefers her that way.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Amazonian Beauty is the outright defiance of this trope (at least aesthetically). The entire point of it being that a woman who is strong and powerful-looking can be beautiful or attractive.
  • Bishounen Line: Involves a character becoming stronger (and uglier) with successive transformations, but ultimately subverting this trope by assuming a most powerful form which is more beautiful and delicate-looking than the ones before.

Zig-zagged (not quite straight examples or aversion)

  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Seems to be a subversion, since the focus of the trope is likely an Action Girl. Hwever, through improbable measures, she still manages to maintain a delicate beauty.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl/Dojikko: She subverts the perception of women as graceful, but this only serves to make her more endearing because she appears more vulnerable than usual.
  • Dainty Combat: A softer and more delicate style of combat--usually considered "beautiful".
    • Dance Battler: When something beautiful and ginger (like ballet) is used as an offensive weapon.
    • Girly Bruiser: An interplay of delicate femininity and pure destructive badassery.
    • Lady of Adventure: While not necessarily physically adept herself, she doesn't shy away from danger or risk, but still strives to be beautiful and ladylike. Whether it averts or enforces this trope depends on the example.
    • Lady of War: More physically potent than her Adventure counterpart, but attempts to be no less ladylike.
    • She-Fu: Usually involves flourishes and beautiful acrobatics.
    • Swashbuckler: Used in romantic fiction because of its aesthetic value.
    • Waif-Fu: Played straight in physical beauty, but subverted in physical toughness. The point to this trope is the irony of a delicate flower perform acts of aggression that seem improbable given her size.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: Tends to depend on how "dudelike" she is and how attractive she's considered. A bifauxnen is still feminine and delicate, but the stereotypical tomboy eschews any feminine traits which take time, effort and care to maintain because it isn't practical.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: She uses her beauty and guise of delicacy as a smokescreen to conceal that she's a physical threat.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Involves a cast possessing one Tomboy and one more delicate and feminine character and the Tomboy always being the one killed. Hollywood usually enforces this because their leading ladies are beautiful, relatable and a better selling point than the secondary character and make the danger feel more potent.
Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • February 22, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    "Hot Amazon: The inversion of this trope by indicating that another character finds a woman attractive because she isn't delicate."

    It would require the guy first claiming to like delicate women to be a subversion.
  • February 22, 2012
    MorganWick
    All Women Are Delicate is a related trope, but most of the description can probably ignore it.

    See also Bishonen and The Woobie.
  • February 23, 2012
    darkclaw
    Does Heroic Build count for male attractiveness but with strength?
  • February 23, 2012
    KingZeal
    No, because Heroic Build means two separate things for both genders. For men, it means built like a brick truck. For women, it means slender and toned.
  • February 23, 2012
    jatay3
    Cetagandans in Vorkosigan Saga are obsessed with this.
  • February 23, 2012
    azul120
    One other thing is that fine, delicate features are often considered beautiful. (This has to do with bone structure, not thinness or lack of curves.)
  • February 23, 2012
    lebrel
    Neither Bishounen nor White Haired Pretty Boy are subtropes of Dude Looks Like A Lady. White Haired Pretty Boy is a subtrope of Bishounen. Dude Looks Like A Lady can be a subtrope of Bishounen, depending on type. You might also want Pretty Boy.

    And I don't think White Haired Pretty Boy has anything to do with looking "old or sickly". More like exotic, ethereal and supernatural.
  • February 24, 2012
    azul120
    As a trope index, is this not meant to be linked to under works/character pages?
  • February 24, 2012
    MorganWick
    This is a Missing Supertrope.
  • February 24, 2012
    azul120
    I see. Though it says not to list examples.

    I can still add elaboration if it fits, correct?
  • February 25, 2012
    KingZeal
    Sure
  • February 25, 2012
    azul120
    Beyond the counterpoint to more powerful characters being more intimidating in appearance, so called delicate features can be considered more intricate and exquisite.
  • February 25, 2012
    jatay3
    Cetaganda in the Vorkosigan Saga almost makes this a planetary religion.
  • March 10, 2012
    azul120
    Seeing as Women Are Delicate is now launched, should we work on this, or discard?
  • March 10, 2012
    KingZeal
    Work on, of course.
  • March 12, 2012
    peccantis
    Bishounen should really be listed under straight-plays.
  • March 12, 2012
    Aviaticus
    Should a rename be considered? The word delicacy is often used to refer to food so it might be misleading to some. Maybe just Delicate is Beautiful?
  • March 12, 2012
    KingZeal
    I thought about that, but I wanted to keep it related to Women Are Delicate, and looking Delicateness in the dictionary produces definitions which are not as broad as this trope. Delicateness seems to be more about physical weakness/brittleness while delicacy is about intricacy, finesse, carefulness, etc.
  • March 12, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    Undead Horse Trope. It should have faded out in the 1960s, but this and Women Are Delicate are unfortunately still around. Removing a nonexistant hat, 'cause I hate it.
  • March 13, 2012
    MorganWick
    ^That's a terrible reason for removing a hat (if you had). Not liking a trope's existence is not a good reason to not like a trope page.
  • March 15, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Picture suggestion. I'm not really a fan of Code Geass, but this picture really looks like the trope.

    Such a sweet and innocent princess.

  • April 4, 2012
    Koveras
    Hmm, I wonder whether Elegant Classical Musician would be a subtrope? Because it more or less states that "classical music --> classy and refined person --> beautiful".
  • April 14, 2012
    KingZeal
    Bumping.

    And are there any other takers for the pic?
  • April 20, 2012
    Statalyzer
    Saying that delicate = beautiful is saying men want frail women over strong women. Thus this is No Guy Wants An Amazon.
  • April 20, 2012
    Statalyzer
    Saying that Delicacy = Beauty is basically saying men want pretty women, not strong women. Thus this is No Man Wants An Amazon.
  • April 21, 2012
    KingZeal
    No it isn't. This is the supertrope to that.
  • April 21, 2012
    peccantis
    "Love Goddess: Most mythic pantheons have at least one. Also, the wife of the Top God is usually connected to matrimony or family in some way."

    And this has something to do with delicacy...how??
  • June 8, 2012
    KingZeal
    My original rationale was that Love goddesses tend to be beautiful.

    That doesn't seem very relevant, in retrospect.
  • June 17, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    Suggest Delicate Is Beautiful instead of Delicacy Is Beautiful. The latter is often (usually?) used to describe food; the former has no such connotation.
  • June 18, 2012
    ChaoticNovelist
    Yamato Nadeshiko needs an addition. While its currently true enough one should add that these women were most often part of the samurai class and expected to know basic self-defense. Naginata were part of their dowry for a reason.
  • October 26, 2012
    KingZeal
    That was only true for a time. Afterwards, it was phased out, and naginata stopped being used for serious military or defensive use.

    Anyway, I'm launching today if there are no objections.
  • October 26, 2012
    DracMonster
  • October 26, 2012
    RoseBride
    Shouldn't be realted as well to Fragile Flower?
  • October 26, 2012
    KingZeal
    ^ Ah yes. I didn't know cuteness played a part.

    ^^ No. Like Women Are Delicate, the word "delicate" is chosen because it means deliberate, thorough and intricate as well as fragile.
  • October 26, 2012
    RoseBride
    I guess you're right, how about the Innocent Flower Girl
  • November 3, 2012
    azul120
    It doesn't have to literally mean cute or fragile. It can also mean gentle in nature, or appearance, with smooth and/or fine features.
  • November 4, 2012
    KingZeal
    But only if that's synonymous with beautiful or other aesthetically-pleasing values.
  • April 23, 2013
    Misskitten
    Could use a bump.
  • April 23, 2013
    KingZeal
    In fact, I'll launch this tonight.
  • April 23, 2013
    lexicon
    I think No Guy Wants An Amazon should be more specific then "The direct subtrope to this," and tell what an Amazon is in this context. Fragile Flower is still missing. The page calls her "so beautiful."
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=s51vz7q8umiovaifloc1k2vk