Editorial

In praise of ugly beauty

We are captivated by a narrow view of beauty. Standard, uniform, balanced beautiful beauty. Look at magazine covers. Not just for fashion and fitness. Look at the home and garden magazines, look at the car and pet magazines. All the “beauty” is similar. Smooth and “perfect.”

Why is it only a majestic sunset in some “exotic” place that’s wonderful? Can’t it be a lily in a field, grass on the boulevard, the colors of a sparrow? In our glossy hair, swoosh shoe, shiny car, Botox lips culture we need to undermine our beautiful beauty with a new praise for ugly beauty.

Why can’t pimples be pretty too? Let’s do that, can we? Let’s make ordinary things beautiful. I want pimples and wrinkles. Let’s see glistening pores and hair on the ears.

My “sunset” photo is of the tree in my back yard, and it’s not in bloom or anything; it’s of the cat curling its font paws. My beautiful is ordinary and full of an unrecognized, unvalorized, uncommodified beauty. This is a conciliatory vision which plucks celebrities from the red carpet, hoses them down with makeup remover, and sets them down on a sidewalk beside the rest of us carrying groceries home for supper on an overcast day.

Because beauty has been coopted, we need a new phrase for the common beauty, the ineffableness of the ordinary: let’s call it ugly beauty.

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Issue 6, Summer 2007

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