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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 and unsightliness, more informal terms such turn-offs,[3] or slang terms such as "fugly",[4] "boner-shrinker",[5] "uggo"[6] "detumescent", "detumifying"[7] and "bonerkiller".[8][9] 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".[10] In manosphere Internet forums, unattractive people are sometimes described as omegas[11] or undateables.[12]

Unattractiveness is often associated with ageing.[13] Numerous terms have been coined to describe the stage of one's life wherein one's appearance has faded, including the sexpiration date[14], or in the androsphere, terms such as hitting the wall or simply the wall.[15]


The Ugly Duchess (painting by Quentin Matsys, ca. 1513)

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.[16] Socrates also used his ugliness as a philosophical touch point, concluding that philosophy can save us from our outward ugliness.[16] 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."[17]


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.[18] Some research indicates a sentencing disparity where unattractive people tend to get heavier prison sentences than attractive people.[19] Data from the OKCupid dating service found that women perceived 80% of men's attractiveness to be less than medium.[20]


Uglification, defacement or disfigurement refers to efforts to depreciate someone's levels of attractiveness, often in television characters in order to desexualize them.[21] Discrimination or prejudice against unattractive people is sometimes referred to as lookism or cacophobia,[22] and if it is a result of ones disfigurement, ableism.[23] Teratophobia is an aversion or fear of people who appear monstrous, have blemishes or are disfigured.[24] When such an aversion is coupled with prejudice or discrimination, it may be viewed as a form of bullying.[25] With the dating world or courtship, judging others purely based on their outward appearance is acknowledged as an attitude that does transpire, yet is often viewed as an approach that is superficial and shallow.[26]


In her book, The Beauty Bias : the injustice of appearance in life and law, American jurist Deborah Rhode has argued that western equal employment provisions against discrimination on the basis of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation should be expanded to include protections for those experiencing discrimination out of aesthetic unattractiveness.[27] There are some jurisdictions that already make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of immutable forms of aesthetic appearance, including the Australian state of Victoria, wherein lookism was made illegal in 1995.[28] Similarly, according to The Economist, Washington DC has laws that prohibit lookism.[29]


People sometimes subconsciously associate their perception of disagreeable physical attributes with dislikable personality traits.[30] Some of these include an association between unattractive individuals and dishonesty, unintelligence, failure and incompetence.[31] However, attractiveness and intelligence have been shown to be positively correlated.[32] Factors contributing to a perceived unattractiveness among humans include facial asymmetry, however its significance varies across cultures[33] and among women seeking a male partner, may also vary according to specific the stage of her menstrual cycle.[34] Among medieval western cultures, a marker of unattractiveness in artwork was sometimes marked by protuberances in one physical body.[35] Some studies found that love-shyness, ineffectiveness at courtship and sexlessness were traits more pronounced among people who self-described as unattractive.[36]

There are some specific characteristics on men that have recurringly been described as unattractive by women or in general, including a short height, narrow shoulders,[37] a pot belly, a micropenis,[38] a negative canthal tilt and browbridge,[39] an unchiseled jawline, a recessed chin,[40] sporadic facial hair and a receding hairline.[41] Among males, some fictional characters are frequently described as ugly, such as Quasimodo,[42] and sometimes also real life individuals such as Joseph Merrick.[43]

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.[44][45] Some studies have shown that unattractive birds, particularly, Bluethroats guard their mates more assertively.[46] 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.[47] 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[48] and in the pieridae classification of butterfly.[49]

See also[edit]


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  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
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  5. ^ Sheeler, Kristina (2013). Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture. p. 156.
  6. ^ Rivers, Joan. I Hate Everyone... Starting with Me Deluxe. Penguin, 2012.
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  9. ^ Fishbein, Rebecca (6 October 2016). "Donald Trump Will Never Drop Out, Good Luck, GOP!". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 5 November 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
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  15. ^ https://www.yourtango.com/2016298082/how-spot-red-pill-guy-who-supports-mens-rights
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