7 Songs That Tell Women They Don't Know They're Beautiful

Mac Miller and Ariana Grande in the video for "My Favorite Part."
Courtesy Photo

Mac Miller and Ariana Grande in the video for "My Favorite Part."

Imagine two scenarios: One, you’re home making dinner, and your significant other unlocks the front door, coming home from work, and shouts, “Hey, beautiful,” walking swiftly to the kitchen to give you a kiss. The other, you’re taking a walk, vibing to whatever’s on your headphones, and a man stopped at a red light rolls down his window and huskily yelps, “Hey, beautiful!”

Being told you’re beautiful can be either super romantic or uncomfortably creepy, and it happens to be one of the oldest go-to lines in the book. In music, the line comes as a heart-melting lyric, crooned to a lover or crush who somehow doesn’t realize her worth.

Lyrics like One Direction's “You don’t know you’re beautiful/ That’s what makes you beautiful” tap into a woman's deepest insecurity and allows a man the ability to fill that void. Though usually unintentional, men play up women’s lack of self-confidence and give themselves the power and control to prop her back up. But remember: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the most important beholder is yourself.

Here are a seven songs that have used the “you don’t know you’re beautiful” trope to win over ladies' hearts.

1. Mac Miller feat. Ariana Grande, “My Favorite Part”

Mac Miller served up his softer side on his latest album, The Divine Feminine, and one particularly retro-flavored cut features girlfriend Ariana Grande. “My Favorite Part” has Miller singing, “You just don’t know how beautiful you are, and baby, that’s my favorite part.” Mac comes to the rescue in the ditty, letting Ari know that he’s available for some cuddles and a self-esteem check, if she needs it. But he’s also saying that her lack of self-awareness is his favorite part -- despite singing to a Dangerous Woman who knows how to be both a princess and a bad bitch.

Lyric: “You just don’t know how beautiful you are, and baby, that’s my favorite part.”

2. Frankie J, “How Beautiful You Are”

In Frankie J’s music video for “How Beautiful You Are,” he tries to rekindle a fading love by writing a song for her, telling her that she should realize her worth. “I just don’t understand those silly worries on your mind,” he sings on the track -- simultaneously complimenting her and delegitimizing her concerns. Unfortunately, this love song doesn’t get to the root of her insecurities, nor does it have to. It’s a nice gesture, right?

Lyric: “When I look at you baby/ I see a shining star/ But when you look in the mirror, girl/ You don’t know who you are/ You give yourself no credit/ For all the things you’ve done/ Just look at the blessings/ And all you’ve got”

3. John Legend, “You & I”

Legend plunges deep into a vat of vulnerability with “You & I,” telling whomever he’s singing to that she doesn’t need to wear makeup or fancy dresses to look beautiful to him. Unapparent to some: A woman’s confidence often sprouts from the little things she does for herself.

Lyric: “You fix your makeup, just so/ Guess you don't know, that you're beautiful/ Try on every dress that you own/ You were fine in my eyes a half-hour ago”

4. One Direction, “What Makes You Beautiful”

Five years ago, Liam Payne crooned the opening line of One Direction’s first hit in a playful British accent. “You’re insecure/ Don’t know what for,” he sings as a puppy-like teen. “What Makes You Beautiful” was 1D’s breakout, crafted to make them heartthrobs, and it was a song they sang a bit naively. The cleverness comes in the simplistic chorus -- “You don’t know you’re beautiful/ That’s what makes you beautiful.” Right from the beginning, we found out that One Direction’s dream girl is a humble one -- a girl who might be lacking a little confidence. It’s cute but problematic, suggesting that girls should be more insecure in order for a guy to swoop in.

Lyric: “You don’t know you’re beautiful/ That’s what makes you beautiful”

5. Ed Sheeran, “Wake Me Up”

In this track from Sheeran's debut album, 2011’s +, the singer/songwriter confesses all the things he loves about a person he wants to commit to fully. The piano-plunked track, with its softly sung vocals and barely there production, is awfully romantic. “Wake Me Up” tells the story of a girl who is unaware of her role in Sheeran’s life, and his desperation to keep her is clearly evident. In this case, Sheeran is not praising her insecurity; he’s playing up her worth in his life. So, yeah, it’s pretty cute.

Lyric: “And you will never know/ Just how beautiful you are to me/ But maybe I'm just in love/ When you wake me up”

6. Dan Talevski, “Knock Me Off My Feet”

In “Knock Me Off My Feet,” Talevski’s jaw is on the ground over his lover’s beauty, struggling to find words to describe how precious she is in his eyes. He’s awestruck, and even though he can’t fully explain it, the thought, in this case, more than counts.

Lyric: “You don't even know how beautiful you are/ Never seen someone so natural/ and I don't know I can explain it”

7. U2, “Get On Your Boots”

Noted feminist Bono, who was the first man honored at Glamour's Women of the Year Awards, declares that “women are the future” on U2’s 2009 track “Get On Your Boots.” And while he dreamily sings, “You don’t know how beautiful you are” in the song’s bridge, it’s evident that this song isn’t about romance at all. Rather, it takes on the ironic duality that humankind is able to get down on a Friday night and launch a bomb the next day.

Lyric: “You don’t know how beautiful you are”

Bonus: The 1975’s album title -- I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It -- is not creepy in the sense that I was talking about, but still kind of creepy if you don’t like people watching you sleep.