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Unattractiveness or ugliness is the degree to which a person's physical features are considered aesthetically unfavorable.


Ugliness is a property of a person or thing that is unpleasant to look upon and results in a highly unfavorable evaluation. To be ugly is to be aesthetically unattractive, repulsive, or offensive.[1][2] There are many terms associated with visually unappealing or aesthetically undesirable people, including hideousness, more informal terms such turn-offs,[3] or slang terms such as fugly,[4] boner-shrinker,[5] and bonerkiller.[6][7] Other measures use a numerical scale of attractiveness, wherein 1 is the ugliest and 10 is the most attractive, whereby the most unattractive individuals would be described as "1s", "2s", and "3s".[8] In manosphere Internet forums, unattractive people are sometimes described as omegas[9] or undateables.[10]


People who appear ugly to others suffer well-documented discrimination, earning 10 to 15 percent less per year than similar workers, and are less likely to be hired for almost any job, but lack legal recourse to fight discrimination.[11] Some research indicates a sentencing disparity where unattractive people tend to get heavier prison sentences than attractive people.[12] Uglification, defacement or disfigurement refers to efforts to depreciate someone's levels of attractiveness, often in television characters in order to desexualize them.[13] Discrimination or prejudice against unattractive people is sometimes referred to as lookism or cacophobia.[14]

For some people, ugliness is a central aspect of their persona. Jean-Paul Sartre had a lazy eye and a bloated, asymmetrical face, and he attributed many of his philosophical ideas to his lifelong struggle to come to terms with his self-described ugliness.[15] Socrates also used his ugliness as a philosophical touch point, concluding that philosophy can save us from our outward ugliness.[15] Famous in his own time for his perceived ugliness, Abraham Lincoln was described by a contemporary: "to say that he is ugly is nothing; to add that his figure is grotesque, is to convey no adequate impression." However, his looks proved to be an asset in his personal and political relationships, as his law partner William Herndon wrote, "He was not a pretty man by any means, nor was he an ugly one; he was a homely man, careless of his looks, plain-looking and plain-acting. He had no pomp, display, or dignity, so-called. He appeared simple in his carriage and bearing. He was a sad-looking man; his melancholy dripped from him as he walked. His apparent gloom impressed his friends, and created sympathy for him—one means of his great success."[16]


People sometimes subconsciously associate their perception of disagreeable physical attributes with dislikable personality traits.[17] Some of these include an association between unattractive individuals and dishonesty, unintelligence, failure and incompetence.[18] Factors contributing to a perceived unattractiveness among humans include facial asymmetry, however its significance varies across cultures[19] and among women seeking a male partner, may also vary according to specific the stage of her menstrual cycle.[20] Among medieval western cultures, a marker of unattractiveness in artwork was sometimes marked by protuberances in one physical body.[21] Some studies found that love-shyness, ineffectiveness at courtship and sexlessness were traits more pronounced among people who self-described as unattractive.[22]

Notable people who have been described as ugly include Lizzie Velásquez[23] and Joseph Merrick.[24]

Other organisms[edit]

Several species of animals have shown a tendency towards avoidance of mating with potential mates if perceived as unattractive as has been observed in several species such as the Spalangia endius wasp and the green-veined white butterfly.[25][26] Some studies have shown that unattractive birds, particularly, Bluethroats guard their mates more assertively.[27] Studies have shown that among some monogamous herbivorous animals, particularly zebras, females will seek out copulation or interim entanglements with other zebras who they find more attractive.[28] Among several species the relative unattractiveness of a mate increases depending on the recentness of their last instances of copulation, including in red-sided garter snakes[29] and in the pieridae classification of butterfly.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Webster's New World College Dictionary, 3rd edition, 1995
  2. ^ PERPINYA, Núria. Ruins, Nostalgia and Ugliness. Five Romantic perceptions of Middle Ages and a spoon of Game of Thrones and Avant-garde oddity. Berlin: Logos Verlag. 2014
  3. ^ Wolpe, Paul (1996). Sexuality and Gender in Society. p. 757. 
  4. ^ Varnhagen, Connie K., et al. "Lol: New language and spelling in instant messaging." Reading and Writing 23.6 (2010): 719-733.
  5. ^ Sheeler, Kristina (2013). Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture. p. 156. 
  6. ^ Pound, Kaylin (3 June 2016). "15 Guys Confess The Things They Want To Change About Their Girlfriends". Elite Daily. Retrieved 7 December 2017. 
  7. ^ Fishbein, Rebecca (6 October 2016). "Donald Trump Will Never Drop Out, Good Luck, GOP!". Gothamist. Retrieved 7 December 2017. 
  8. ^ Mayyasi, Alex (8 April 2016). "Online Dating and the Death of the 'Mixed-Attractiveness' Couple". Priceonomics. Retrieved 7 December 2017. 
  9. ^ Herold, Edward S., and Robin R. Milhausen. "Dating preferences of university women: An analysis of the nice guy stereotype." Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 25.4 (1999): 333-343.
  10. ^ Hollomotz, Andrea. "Exploiting the Fifty Shades of Grey craze for the disability and sexual rights agenda." Disability & Society 28.3 (2013): 418-422.
  11. ^ Hamermesh, Daniel (August 27, 2011). "Ugly? You May Have a Case". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2011. 
  12. ^ McKelvie, Stuart J., and James Coley. "Effects of crime seriousness and offender facial attractiveness on recommended treatment." Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal 21.4 (1993): 265-277
  13. ^ Mühleisen, Wencke. "Staging Gender and Sexuality in Experimental TV Entertainment." Journal of homosexuality 54.1-2 (2008): 169-191.
  14. ^ Warhurst, Chris, et al. "Lookism: The new frontier of employment discrimination?." Journal of Industrial Relations 51.1 (2009): 131-136
  15. ^ a b Martin, Andy (August 10, 2010). "The Phenomenology of Ugly". The New York Times. Retrieved August 24, 2010. 
  16. ^ Carpenter, F. B. (1866). Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln. New York: Hurd and Houghton. ISBN 1-58218-120-9. 
  17. ^ Baumeister, Roy F., and Dianne M. Tice. "Point-counterpoints: Anxiety and social exclusion." Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 9.2 (1990): 165.
  18. ^ Byrnes, Deborah A. "The physically unattractive child." Childhood Education 64.2 (1987): 80-85.
  19. ^ Little, Anthony C., Coren L. Apicella, and Frank W. Marlowe. "Preferences for symmetry in human faces in two cultures: data from the UK and the Hadza, an isolated group of hunter-gatherers." Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 274.1629 (2007): 3113-3117.
  20. ^ Gangestad, Steven W., et al. "Women's preferences for male behavioral displays change across the menstrual cycle." Psychological Science 15.3 (2004): 203-207.
  21. ^ Baker, Naomi. Plain ugly: The unattractive body in early modern culture. Manchester University Press, 2010.
  22. ^ Pashos, Alexander, and Carsten Niemitz. "Results of an explorative empirical study on human mating in Germany: Handsome men, not high-status men, succeed in courtship." Anthropologischer Anzeiger (2003): 331-341.
  23. ^ Jonsson, Andreea Florentina. "In computer veritas: Flaming as a form of toxic online disinhibition and its triggers in World of Warcraft." (2015).
  24. ^ Foreman-Peck, Lorraine. "Evaluating children's talk about literature: A theoretical perspective." Children's Literature in Education 16.4 (1985): 203-218.
  25. ^ Andersson, Johan, Anna-Karin Borg-Karlson, and Christer Wiklund. "Sexual cooperation and conflict in butterflies: a male–transferred anti–aphrodisiac reduces harassment of recently mated females." Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 267.1450 (2000): 1271-1275.
  26. ^ King, B. H., et al. "Unattractiveness of mated females to males in the parasitoid wasp Spalangia endius." Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 57.4 (2005): 350-356.
  27. ^ Johnsen, Arild, and Jan T. Lifjeld. "Unattractive males guard their mates more closely: an experiment with bluethroats (Aves, Turdidae: Luscinia s. svecica)." Ethology 101.3 (1995): 200-212.
  28. ^ Houtman, Anne M. "Female zebra finches choose extra-pair copulations with genetically attractive males." Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 249.1324 (1992): 3-6.
  29. ^ Whittier, Joan M., Robert T. Mason, and David Crews. "Mating in the red-sided garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis: differential effects on male and female sexual behavior." Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 16.3 (1985): 257-261.
  30. ^ Andersson, Johan, Anna-Karin Borg-Karlson, and Christer Wiklund. "Antiaphrodisiacs in pierid butterflies: a theme with variation!." Journal of Chemical Ecology 29.6 (2003): 1489-1499.