Even when describing a woman as beautiful “inside and out”, it limits a woman’s personality to its ornamental / superficial value. A woman who was cunning and acerbic won’t be described as having internal beauty, despite that her character might make her a uniquely interesting and valuable person.
A woman who’s manipulative, sarcastic, and swears like a sailor is a shrew unless she’s hot at which point she’s sassy. A woman who’s super into unicorns is crazy unless she’s hot, then she’s quirky.
And then, in death, women are first and foremost beautiful. They had a smile that could light up the room. They were the perfect daughter / wife / mother: beautiful and kind. Meanwhile, I can’t think of a single instance in which I’ve heard a man described first and foremost as handsome in memoriam. Maybe a handsome guy will be unjustifiably described as “charming”, but while a man’s quality is determined by his actions, a woman’s is predicated on her looks.
I can’t articulate how upset I’d be if, in death, I was remembered primarily for the way I looked. I’ve been variously hot, uncomely, and decidedly average, and it’s never changed who I am. Having poured my heart and mind into academic papers and lively arguments and this blog, I hope that people will be able to come up with more relevant remembrances of me. When I die I’d frankly rather be called bad and wrong, and even dumb than be called beautiful.
A few women have seemingly achieved notoriety independent of their looks, which isn’t to say that their looks won’t often be the subject of conversation. And though I aspire for the kind of obituary that Angela Merkel will get, I’d settle for one like Hillary Clinton’s.