Jolie laide (English translation: "beautiful ugly") is the French expression used to describe someone who is unconventionally beautiful. Snaggle teeth, a bump in the nose, closely set eyes are just a few examples of unconventional physical traits, which some might view as deformities, that are embraced under the notion of jolie laide. Although the concept of jolie laide recognizes that men act and women appear (as the writer John Berger once put it), it also recognizes that behind the visceral image lies an internal life. As the literary critic Daphne Merkin put it, jolie laide is "a triumph of personality over physiognomy, the imposition of substance over surface."
It is unclear when and where the term arose in French culture. Some have surmised that the term comes out of Serge Gainsbourg's song "Laide Jolie Laide."
Celebrities commonly thought to encapsulate this notion include: Anjelica Huston whose "regal asymmetry defies the norms of magazine 'pretty'"; Sofia Coppola with her "introspective, girl-in-a-Vermeer-painting aura rather than the paint-by-numbers cheerleader vibe of Lindsay Lohan."; Charlotte Gainsbourg with her "melancholic air and the vaguely awkward way she inhabits her lanky body". The late Isabella Blow has also been described by this term.
- Merkin, Daphne (16 October 2005). "The Unfairest of Them All". New York Times. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
- Ollivier, Debra (2010). What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind. USA: Berkley Trade. p. 272. ISBN 042523648X.
- Ollivier, Debra (2010). What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind. USA: Berkley Trade. ISBN 042523648X.
- Larocca, Amy (15 May 2007). "The Sad Hatter". New York Magazine.