what is ugly?

as i’ve been exploring the concepts of beauty in girls studies i’ve been forced to face the reality that most people create two categories for the world: the beautiful and the not beautiful.  (and there are lots of other categories and dichotomies we create too, but i have been battling with these two lately.)  and it’s painful for me, especially as i sit with the power of our girls studies classes, with the susceptibility that young girls have to self demeaning messages.  the other night i was having a super challenging conversation with my lover paxus and when we kept reiterating that for most people “ugly” exists, i started crying.  it was too much.

too much to know that that’s true.  that we make up some slanderous category which creates yet another form of oppression and violence against individuals.  that someone else can define me as ugly.  that someone else can define me at all.

and i’d like to start exploring the idea of ugly.  i’d like to draw it out from it’s dark and secretive cave, bring it into the sunshine and play with it until suddenly, it’s something else.  what is ugly?  can you name the things you think are ugly?  can you describe me physical features that make you cringe?  do they even exist?  please, tell me what they are.  because honestly, i cant think of them for myself.

i think this week in class we’ll do just that.  ask for people to shout out things that are ugly and then break those things down.  try to identify what makes them ugly, what makes them undesirable.  i want debates on each unattractive characteristic.  i want girls to have to defend what makes something ugly.

and if i’m right in my assumptions, i think they’ll crumble.  i think we’ll go through our list of ugly and as we explore the why’s it will all fall apart.  and the ugly will morph into the beautiful.  and we’ll look at each other differently.  we’ll look at ourselves differently.  like always, your insight is greatly appreciated.

and i’ll be sure to update you on what we come up with tomorrow.t

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kas
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 02:44:05

    do you mean ‘he” instead of “we”?

    Reply

    • Sara Tansey
      Nov 02, 2011 @ 03:07:31

      kind of. the specific “he” had a concept of ugly. but it was also the broader “we” who i had to realize reinforces the idea of ugly.

      Reply

  2. Abbey
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 19:29:37

    Ugly exists only on the inside. When some so-called “beautiful” person calls someone ugly, that makes them the ugly ones. Furthermore, what’s considered beautiful today makes everyone look alike. Men and women alike make themselves up to look the same, just because they want to be called beautiful.

    As for the characteristics that make me cringe: men with muscles, any surgically-enhanced body part, overly made-up faces, and perfect teeth. I hate when people seem to have no imperfections; imperfections are what make people beautiful.

    I don’t know if this helps, but I thought I’d put in my two cents.

    Reply

    • Sara Tansey
      Nov 04, 2011 @ 17:53:03

      Dear Abbey,

      i appreciate your two cents and i think you’ll be tickled to know that when we did our brainstorm of “ugly” things we came up with things like war, pollution, cliques, bullies. there were some small admissions from the women in the group who added cellulite but not one girl thought of a physical characteristic as ugly.

      whereas when we brainstormed what we thought was beautiful we had smiles, laughter, eyes, aura/energy, compassion, caring, etc.

      thanks for sharing! i look forward to hearing your responses to my stories.

      sara

      Reply

  3. paxus
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 04:21:43

    if clear skin is the only universally attractive feature, then perhaps blemished skin is nearly universally found undesirable trait.

    but what if we replace ugly with “undesirable to me”. if it is my preferences, my tastes, what does it matter if we disagree? And if beauty is agreed to be int he eye of the beholder, how can ugliness be any different?

    Reply

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