I don’t mean in the way that many girls will say while looking in the mirror- the ‘I’m so ugly’ that usually only conventionally attractive people would have the courage to admit out loud. I mean that probably no one finds me attractive, at least not at first glance. I’m not white, I don’t have high cheekbones, or a caucasian-esque nose, my face is far from airbrushed, my hair stands out in a bad way; whatever you imagine ‘pretty’ is, I don’t fit it in the slightest.
I also don’t mean to say it in a shameful way. I am not pitying myself, and I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, either. I simply want to acknowledge that I am -conventionally- ugly and that it matters, no matter how much we deny its existence and the awkwardness always following suite.
Ugliness is not a bad thing, but we make it that way in the ways we portray conventionally unattractive people (or the lack thereof). We are constantly surrounded by pictures and movies and book covers and celebrities who are beautiful, happy, wealthy, and all-around perfect, and exclude whoever doesn’t fit the bill. Beautiful people are the supermodels and actors and artists we see television. They are celebrated for their work and publicized incessantly with their faces on ads and magazines and movie trailers. We live in a world of botox and makeup, air brushing and rhinoplasty, all in the hopes of being beautiful. And if a celebrity isn’t beautiful, they’re a joke. They have pathetic or satirical roles in the media. They are inhuman, monsters, creeps, losers, or just plain dumb. Like being female or trans, ugliness is not actually a bad thing to be- it comes from the judgement of those who consider themselves above others, and their attempt to put themselves above the ‘lesser’ folks-but because of this portrayal in the media, we have made ugliness a bad thing. It has become a standard for how to treat people and how they should feel about themselves, much like in race and gender.
We also try to ignore it as much as possible, like in race and gender. We pretend it doesn’t exist because we fear acknowledging it would be awkward and shallow, but the real shallowness emerges through this ignorance. No matter what kind of person you are, appearance is always going to influence how you perceive and treat others. It’s only that we’ve yet to learn that race and gender are simply the predecessors of fat and ugly.
Being ugly sucks shit. It’s so horrible to look in the mirror and then feel pained and pitiful, especially as teenage girls, who are taught to base their entire self-worth solely on appearance. I also can’t say how much different my life would have been had I been born an attractive person, again, much like with race and gender. Nonetheless, simply from observing others there r things i can tell.“~9 (based on my experience and the links below)
-People will try to talk to you. Like, all the time, out of nowhere. More importantly, they will feel really comfortable talking to you. Some people I meet will actively try to avoid any contact with me. If someone wasn’t forced to meet me or they didn’t already know me, I’m pretty much always left alone. This is good when I don’t want to be bothered, like when I’m in a cafe while reading a book or a handful of other situations where my introversion lines up with my ugliness. This is not good during parties, going into new classrooms, going to camp for the first time, meeting people for the first time, wanting make new friends, wanting to keep in touch with new acquaintances, or any other social event you can imagine. Meeting people is one of the hardest things I can think of, and looking back on it, I’ve pretty much always felt an enormous pressure to hide my face as much as possible or overcompensate with niceness and humor.
-You will participate in hookup culture, and I most definitely will not. This can be a good and bad thing- I probably won’t have some midnight sloppy sexual encounter with a person I will regret having it with. There’s less of a chance I will be sexually harassed or raped because fewer people bother hooking up with an ugly girl. I won’t be catcalled or sexually objectified in the boy’s locker room, or be the hot topic of some semi-pubescent guys’ conversations. These things are the product of sexism and the ideal beauty standard. But I won’t meet the love of my life at first sight, I most likely won’t be referred to or given a random opportunity on a whim, and I won’ be able to make a lot of good friends because of the way I look…which is good, right? I know what you’re thinking: won’t it just block out the haters? It sounds like a filter for your real and fake friends and partners. It sounds like there’s a shimmer of hope in my ugliness, like maybe it’s not all bad for me, like, if the universe truly is balanced and equal, I can have this one thing. Sometimes it will work- most of my relationships won’t just be for the hookups, which is good, and my friends won’t just be my friends because of how ‘pretty stereotypes’ play in. But mostly, this won’t be the case. There are a ton of good people out there who won’t be here to see my true self because they could have gotten even *slightly* driven away from my ugliness and whatever ursula-the-witch childhood bias could deter them. So much of love and friendship and relationships are built on physical appearances, even if it doesn’t seem that way. It’s an integral part of our society that we tend to overlook, just like any institutionalized prejudice we hold. Moreover, we shouldn’t call the non-prejudiced friends we make the ‘reward’ of being ugly, just as we shouldn’t say there’s an advantage to being black in America because you know who is and isn’t racist based on how nice they are. We have to move away from seeing the benefits of institutionalized prejudice as a solution to it and just try harder to overcome the whole thing.
-You’re in the media a lot more. You’re also so much more celebrated in the media. Again, I am literally never there unless someone is making fun of me. Remember Ursula the witch? Remember how you could pretty much always tell who was ‘good’ and who was ‘bad’ based on how ugly my dude Walt Disney drew a character? Your gut reactions to ugly Disney characters translate to real life. You will judge ugly people based on the stereotypes you were given in childhood and beautiful people too, just as you judge men and women or different races. If you don’t believe me, imagine Ariel and Ursula with race integrated into good/bad dichotomy instead. In any given movie, you can the villain because they’re black and the good guy because they’re white. It doesn’t sound so great now,,,, does it
-You’re hella more comfortable in given scenarios because your looks are acceptable. Maybe you’re self conscious about your pimples or your arm hair or your thick brows. But there’s a difference between self-consciousness and ‘feeling ugly’, which is typically brought on by sexism, versus being straight up conventionally unattractive. This is not to say that your feeling ugly is being dismissed- your perception of yourself is your reality, and feeling ugly can certainly make you shy, awkward, and very uncomfortable in front of people. The difference is how those other people actually react back to you. Trust me, there is a difference. That really pretty girl you were talking to probably has a million insecurities about her body. But you didn’t know that, and that really did not affect how pretty you thought she was, nor did it affect how well (friendly, comfortably, confidently, agreeably, smoothly, intimately) you interacted with her because of said prettiness. Which ties into~~~
-People will be a lot nicer to you. Have you ever noticed that you’ve been more attentive^^^ or friendly to more attractive people? Yep.
-you are literally more intelligent, based on the article (below) on business insider. You are also more persuasive, get higher sales as a sales boss person executive, have an advantage in politics, and are perceived as more likable and trustworthy. Something cool I discovered is that, if you pretend the business insider article is about white people or men instead of beautiful people, you pretty much connect the same pattern between all privileged people in our society!! how gr8 is that!! goes to show a lot of things i frankly don’t have time to explain
-You get to wear cute clothes and be complimented more often. I found in my own experience that it is so rare for me(an actual ugly person!!!) to compliment uglier people on their clothes, or at all. It doesn’t happen on TV, either. I don’t see a single ugly celebrity being complimented on their dress, and when they are, it’s always a good-natured act we all pretend and play along with to be nice, because deep down, we know they can’t actually pull it off well. They’re too dang ugly!
-everyone around the WORLD thinks you are beautiful and more worthy and a better human being and trustworthy etc etc., thanks to white privilege and western civilization’s domination.
-You are going to be more famous for doing the same thing. Have you ever seen the pioneers of feminism/gay acceptance? They are ALWAYS the most privileged on their turf- rich, attractive, thin, white, able-bodied- because those are privileges that people can still obtain within those unprivileged groups.Just as feminists who are white are going to have more of a say in the media because we value whiteness, those who are attractive have a louder voice, a better reputation, and therefore, they are going to more famous in pop culture. It also works the other way around. Your entire life, people will help you and believe in you more if you are attractive. It builds onto your privilege, like with being white.
-you can get away with SO MUCH MORE SHIT. You could probably eat junk food, sing off-key, be in an awkward squat, or do myriads of other ridiculous things but own it 100%, and it will never be awkward for the people watching. It’s so much harder for uglier people- they can easily be called disgusting or weird for doing the SAME EXACT THINGs as an attractive person. I literally cannot be caught eating from McDonald’s. I’m not joking. Other people give me dirty looks or smile snarkily knowing that I am 1) ugly and 2)eating from a low-brow place which 3) gives all sorts of greasy/unclean connotations. Attractive people doing the exact same thing are never going to have these connotations associated with them. How could they, with their Ariel-esque goodness at heart that makes up for all their well-intentioned humanly mistakes? After all, they’re just people. And that’s the thing. Ugly people are not seen as people. They are monsters, gross, inhuman. They belong to their stereotypes. It’s the most dehumanizing thing that can happen to a person, and it goes on Every. Single. Moment. Relating back to the McDonald’s thing, I’m also not just talking about random activities’ double standards. I’ve given up singing and dancing because of my fear of being both ugly and being the focus of attention and garnering all those awful judgements. An ugly person probably could have never been the catalyst for feminism because they would have so easily been dismissed as a loser, pathetic, gross, weird instead of ingenious or rebellious or revolutionary. An attractive person would have needed to be the face of the movement to even begin to gain credibility for what they do. To validate their actual personality (here’s the ironic part), they first needed validation for their superficial characteristics!! yummy
-You have a higher self esteem. There’s no doubt all of the reasons above will make you a happier and more confident person. You get to believe in yourself so much more. You begin to think the positive reinforcement from society is because of your own doing- remember that teacher who was always by your side, that friend who you made the second you entered camp, the boss who came to you and told you they were hiring? Beautiful people are more successful simply because they’ve been taught their capabilities on a more frequent basis. They’re also seen as more trustworthy, more amicable, smarter, better. Maybe we see a lot more beautiful authors and CEOs for a reason, not because we only showcase their faces. Which brings me to~~~
-You’re more successful. Why not? People already like you more, feel more comfortable around you, have a higher opinion of you, listen to you more*compliment you more, and really try to get to know you better. It’s inevitable that you, a decent human being, will feel more in control and more capable than an ugly and greasy monster who has no humanity.
if you want to find out more about the topic of beauty, these articles are great at showing it: http://www.businessinsider.com/studies-show-the-advantages-of-being-beautiful-2013-6)
It’s an incomprehensive list, but it covers a good amount of ground in the subject. To recognize more of the beauty privilege surrounding your life, always ask yourself: “how would I treat an ugly person in this same situation? How am I treating uglier people in my english class right now? Is there a divide??? WHy the fuck??? What can I do to make it easier for them to be comfortable?”. There will always be an opportunity for you to give someone this comfortableness. I know this. It feels so wonderful to know people are being friendly because they want to know you better, not just to tolerate your existence. It’s a thing many people of color people with disabilities and conventionally unattractive people seldom experience. You can’t make the prejudice disappear, but you can go against the forces working for it.
Also, please don’t hit me with that ‘Everyone is beautiful!’ or some equivalent saying; it makes me want to smash a window. On a basic level, I really could not give a shitte about being pretty/ugly for other people, I just worry about how people are treating me because of it. Saying ‘everyone is beautiful!’ is like saying ‘everyone is white!’. Race is a construction, and so is attractiveness. Putting me on an arbitrary side of this arbitrary chart isn’t going to help. Calling me ‘beautiful’ doesn’t console me, kind of like saying ‘you threw that ball like a real man’ doesn’t make me feel like sexism doesn’t exist. Plus, calling me beautiful makes me want to be more beautiful! If someone tells you that you throw like a guy, doesn’t that make you want to be more tomboyish and avoid girlier things to chase this feeling of male coolness? Or being told you act like a girl. You’ll want to avoid all things girly to a point of compensating. My reality is that I want to be happy in my body, and I want to stop torturing myself because of the ways I think I could be more beautiful. I’m perfectly content living with this *gestures to body with both hands*, but that changes when you tell me how ‘beautiful’- aka, how much like the ideal beauty standard- I fit into. I know I’m not pretty and I don’t care. But you’re making me care; you’re making me feel like it’s important when it isn’t, like ‘beautiful’ is actually a compliment. Calling someone beautiful means beauty has value and that we should be concerned with it. It’s a gateway to distorted body image, not a mode of reassurance.
All of this being said, there are definitely delineations of privilege within the term ‘ugly’. I don’t stand out in a crowd; my looks are tolerated by most people. I’m thin, and don’t feel the need to excessively diet and live being told my fat is ‘unhealthy’ and unwanted. I live in a more accepting town, where another person might feel forced to get plastic surgery to feel accepted in their skin. All of these things about me mean I can live a life of relative peace with my ugliness. There are so many people who don’t have this privilege. There are also many ways in which I am unprivileged. I am a female-bodied person, which means I will be much more harshly judged for my ugliness. Girls grow up with the aspiration of being beautiful, and this ideal was forced upon me as well. I was made to want something that was arbitrary and that I could never have. I am a person of color, which only amplifies my appearance’s negative connotations. I was expected to justify looking Asian and ugly by showing I was always trying to be white and pretty. I was always trying to get rid of my undesirable traits and hate myself for them, which made me a little more accepted. In the end, we can’t treat all conventionally unattractive people the same way because no person has lived with the same good and bad experiences. We are shaped by our individuality. Beauty deserves to be recognized as a someone’s obstacle, not a label.
-recognize ur prilviege if u have it, know ugliness is a thing that will work against u if u have it
-love urself because society will only hate u for the way u look and how it matches up with a literal made-up standard of beauty
-treat this like any other form of privilege, give it the discussions and reflection it deservves
-force urself to be uncomfortable with it!!! i know this was probably a really uncomfortable thing to read because it goes against so much of what u r taught growing up- to never call anyone ugly- while also connecting to the bad rep ugly people get- like w ursula and shit. but if u rnt unconfrmatble no change is gonna happen
More good stuff I found researching:
When we identify celebrity culture as the jumping off point for attractive privilege, we see that consumerism is the commodification of that concept. Celebrity culture is the selling point for many products: make up, hair treatments, laser eye surgery, hair removal, spas, fashion…you know, all those things that are supposed to make us pretty. These items are sold to us based on the idea that for a small fee, we, too, can attain the status of beauty and attractiveness that celebrities possess. We, too, can attain the privilege of being attractive, and we, too, can know what it feels like to be a celebrity. Because too many people have an invested financial stake in selling us attractive privilege, attractive privilege is perpetuated throughout our culture as something valuable that can be attained. Perpetuating attractive privilege is profitable for many people: so many people that the eradication of attractive privilege will never happen.