I once figured out what cute is, or at least one definition.
You are cute when you come up against the limits of your gender. It's cute when kids try to do things they can't quite do, and in the same way it's cute when a man tries to make breakfast, or a woman tries to fix a lamp. When people do something they are good at, it's hot, but when they try to go outside their limits, it's cute.
What does that mean to me? It means that I can never be cute in that way. I'm not really good at guy stuff, though I have that training, and while I am good at girl stuff, I'm usually seen as male bodied and therefore not valued for that.
I have talked about how it feels when being pretty escapes me, but being cute escapes me, also. When people see cute as gender specific, not having a specific gender becomes a problem. When I am guy cute, I get crazy because you aren't seeing what I see myself as, and when I am gal cute, I get crazy because you don't see it in the context in which I see it.
Cute, therefore, isn't something I have ever found possible to pull off, neither the shy, earnest boy cute or the shiny sweet girl cute. No tugged forelock or jaunty hair flip feels right on me.
Does this mean that I don't have cute feelings, full of whimsey and playfulness? Well, hell no. It just means I feel like acting on any cute will fall with a thud, the proverbial lead balloon. Instead of cute, my choices become pathetic or ironic, neither of which work quite the same.
What does it mean to have to police yourself away from cuteness? If you are convinced that other can never see you as cute, then you aren't ging to just let go and trust your own attractiveness. You are going to be deliberately and decisivelly uncute, and that means protected.
Some people hone their own cuteness, some people just accept it, and some, well, some of us fear it, fear that it's nothing but danger and damage.
And that, well, that's not so cute.