Greetings! My name is Carol Van Meter-McDougal, and for seven years, it’s been my pleasure to serve as the president of People magazine’s Beauty Power Rankings Commission—a carefully selected panel of women who meet annually to identify the one female on the planet who most perfectly exhibits the three branches of beauty (body, soul, and hair) and award her with the title “world’s most beautiful woman.”
After considering input from our diverse panel of women aged 45 to 61 and representing cultural thoughts of beauty ranging from European all the way to Northern European, we were happy to announce our unanimous decision. This year’s most beautiful woman in the world is none other than girl-next-door-par-excellence Jennifer Aniston.
Now, to clarify any confusion over this announcement, we weren’t really saying that no woman on the planet has more pleasantly symmetrical facial features. Rather, we’re simply saying that Jennifer Aniston is the most beautiful woman in the world to other women like us. In other words, Jennifer Aniston is the most beautiful girl-pretty woman in the world.
Guy Pretty Versus Girl Pretty
You see, for generations, men objectified women by assessing value to them based on their physical appearance. During more patriarchal times, guys were the ones who determined which women were pretty. But since the feminist movement finally gave women the right to objectify ourselves according to our own standards, there are now two kinds of pretty: guy pretty and girl pretty.
Guy-pretty women are the kind of women whom men want to be with, and are therefore women who bear traits that men find exemplary in women, traits that are generally associated with sexuality—pouty lips, a curvy figure, and a general “come hither” look, or at least a look that doesn’t scream “I smell like cats.”
Girl-pretty women, on the other hand, are the kind of women that other women want to be like, and are therefore women bearing traits that we ladies find exemplary in ourselves, traits like a fit but not surgically enhanced body, eyes that say “confident but not arrogant,” and a general aura of “flirty but not skanky.”
Women who fall under the guy-pretty category are those like Sophia Vergara, Kate Upton, and other gals of similar appearance that most men slobber over but would be too terrified to talk to if they actually met in real life. Girl-pretty women are celebrities like Blake Lively, Emma Stone, and Kate Middleton—women who seem like they could dish out some good makeup tips over brunch but wouldn’t roll their eyes at us if we were to order the chocolate soufflé.
There Are Exceptions, of Course
Of course, the guy-pretty vs. girl-pretty distinction is less of an iron curtain and more of a spectrum. For example, men who value things like marriage and family over hookups and fast cars tend to be more attracted to women with a girl-pretty vibe, which is why “Do you like Ginger or Mary Ann” has been such a helpful diagnostic question for marriage-minded women to ask suitors since 1964.
Likewise, Kim Kardashian is a household name in large part because many women, mostly those without fathers, believe that the greatest feminine virtues are vanity and promiscuity, and therefore see her as an idol worthy of emulation.
But, of course, most women don’t find Kim Kardashian to be the paragon of prettiness because we can’t identify with her or women like her. We like being faithful to our husbands, being content with our lives, not naming our children after points on a compass, and being kind to our neighbors. We don’t want to trade these virtues for the functional illiteracy, self-absorption, cattiness, and Valtrex that, rightly or wrongly, seem like they’re a package deal with bombshell good looks. After all, while we may not be perfectly at peace with our thighs, we are fairly content with our souls.
Jennifer Aniston Is Accessible
This brings us back to Jennifer Aniston. What did our panel of women mean when we declared her the most beautiful woman in the world? Quite simply, we meant that Jennifer Aniston is the most beautiful woman we could look like without losing ourselves. If we could have her hair, smile, access to nutritionists, and personal trainers, we could achieve the highest level of hotness possible without having to leave the best parts of ourselves behind.
As Betsy Westinghouse, our beauty committee vice-president, put it, “I feel like Jennifer is the most beautiful woman who could believably play me in a Lifetime movie about the time I got the school district to ban chips and candy from the vending machines to help my daughter stop body-shaming the husky kids.”
Likewise, board member Dawn Porterfield told us, “If I could pick one person to start in a show about my life, it would definitely be Jennifer. I mean, when my twins Sierra and Sienna were in two different gymnastics classes and three different dance troupes at the same time, I was so stressed out I started eating my hair. And who better to pull off that scene than the Pantene spokeswoman herself?”
Likewise, as not all beauty is physical, Aniston’s gorgeous spirit really appealed to us as well. Seeing that Jen was able to stay strong and keep believing in love after Brad Pitt left her for Angelina Jolie helped me do the same when my second husband left me after only six years of marriage and eight years of my endless criticism.
Similarly, even though the majority of her films have been both critical and commercial flops, Jen’s beautiful tenacity really shines every time she signs on for another romantic comedy that nobody asked for, something that I’m sure will really resonate with me the third time I launch “Carol’s Cupcake Corner” only to get savaged by Yelp reviews again.
Please, No Extreme Gorgeousness
Is Jennifer Aniston the most beautiful woman in the world? Objectively speaking, of course she’s not. But we the bold, confident women of People Magazine’s Beauty Power Rankings Commission certainly weren’t going to give that title to some guy-pretty woman who makes us feel insecure about ourselves. (Besides, we at People prefer to hold off praising the beauty of guy-pretty women until after they die of an overdose.)
Rather, the title of “world’s most beautiful woman” clearly belongs to a girl-pretty woman who makes us feel like we could better ourselves without betraying ourselves, a woman who exemplifies all that’s great about being a woman in a way that makes women like us feel included.
In this sense, Jennifer Aniston is the most beautiful woman in the world—a title she has earned and a crown she deserves to wear for years to come, as long as she doesn’t pull a Meg Ryan and betray those who crowned her by dumping her husband for an angry Australian or blasting 20 pounds of collagen into her face.