Why this fascination with the woman who doesn’t know she’s beautiful, the idealization of low self-esteem? It orients the singer as a savior — the sensitive soul whom this girl, who has been slaving away day in and day out in front of a mirror that just won’t reveal the beauty she longs to see, desperately requires. These aren’t songs for young men, who, theoretically, could listen and reconsider their standards of female beauty. These are songs for girls who get the message that insecurity has romantic value, if only because it’s the necessary setup to the grand moment in which they find the boys who — god bless them! — finally pull them out of it.
By all means, write songs about how beautiful women are. Write songs about how beautiful men are too! (Incidentally, if you’re unsure how specifically gendered this trope is: Try to imagine a song in which a female singer says just how much she wants to make a guy “feel beautiful.”) But don’t assume we’re uncomfortable in our skin just because we dress it up when we present it to the world. Don’t tell us we don’t know we’re beautiful, and certainly don’t tell us that our ignorance to this fact is our best quality. We’re good.