You Might be Ugly, and That's Okay

Last semester, I turned to my roommate and said “I think I might be ugly.”

“What, no! Macy, don’t be ridiculous, you’re not ugly!”

“No, it’s okay, I wasn’t saying that to get a compliment, I just genuinely think I might be ugly. It’s not a big deal.”

“Macy, stop saying that, you’re not ugly! Everyone is beautiful!”

   Ah, there it is. That marvelous old cliché. ‘Everyone is beautiful. We’re beautiful for our flaws, don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.’ I’m sorry, but this strikes me as utter and complete nonsense. Two distinct paths are created here. Either everyone actually is beautiful (meaning it doesn’t matter at all and thus isn’t something that should be commented on) or some people, possibly many people, are ugly (meaning that it is a perfectly normal human characteristic and shouldn’t be treated as taboo). Regardless of the path you take though, you will always end up in the same place: physical beauty doesn’t matter.

     We live in a society where the very suggestion a person might be ugly is considered wholly offensive. This is the result of hundreds of well meaning but entirely ill conceived body positivity campaigns, each telling myriads of people that they are beautiful. This is typically done by lining up people (okay, let’s be honest, it’s always women) of various shapes and sizes and stating that they are all examples of (physically) beautiful human beings. These campaigns are basically society’s answers to unrealistic beauty standards being shoved down the throats of women. While this goal is perhaps noble, the execution will inevitably bring about the opposite result.

     Simply put, these ad campaigns tell us that there is ultimately nothing worse in the world than being ugly. Rather than recognize that some people are just naturally more beautiful than others, they instead reach beyond the realm of reality and insist that no one can be ugly, ever. If that is the case then it would suggest that ugliness is the most terrible, unfortunate thing for a human to be. Conversely, beauty is the most magnificent thing that a person can be. And here’s why this is a problem: no matter how many ‘you are beautiful just being you’ ads a young girl see’s, there are going to be days when she thinks she’s ugly, regardless of whether or not she actually is. Nothing you do is going to change that. What we can do, is change whether or not she views being ugly as a negative.

     Rather than seeing ugliness as a negative quality, why can’t we just see it like any other physical attribute, such as eye color or shoe size? While there are certain factors within an individual’s control, the level of physical beauty that a person is born with is not something that they had any say in. It isn’t something that they worked for. So let’s take beauty off the pedestal and start acknowledging it for what it is: an arbitrary physical trait. Let’s tell girls that they might be ugly, and it doesn’t matter, because a person’s physicality says nothing about their character.

    So yeah, I’m kind of ugly. So what?  A lot of people are. You might be. And that’s okay.