(Redirected from Unattractive)

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] There are many terms associated with visually unappealing or aesthetically undesirable people, including hideousness and unsightliness, more informal terms such as turn-offs. Some 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".[2]

Unattractiveness is often associated with ageing.[3] Numerous terms have been coined to describe the stage of one's life wherein one's appearance has faded, including the sexpiration date[4], or in the androsphere, terms such as hitting the wall or simply the wall.[5][better source needed]


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.[6] Socrates also used his ugliness as a philosophical touch point, concluding that philosophy can save us from our outward ugliness.[6] 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."[7]


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.[8] Some research indicates a sentencing disparity where unattractive people tend to get heavier prison sentences than attractive people.[9]


Uglification, defacement or disfigurement refers to efforts to depreciate someone's levels of attractiveness, often in television characters in order to desexualize them.[10] Discrimination or prejudice against unattractive people is sometimes referred to as lookism or cacophobia (also aschimophobia),[11] and if it is a result of one's disfigurement, ableism.[12] Teratophobia is an aversion or fear of people who appear monstrous, have blemishes or are disfigured. When such an aversion is coupled with prejudice or discrimination, it may be viewed as a form of bullying.[13] 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.[14]


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.[15] 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.[16] Similarly, according to The Economist, Washington DC has laws that prohibit lookism.[17]


People sometimes subconsciously associate their perception of disagreeable physical attributes with dislikable personality traits.[18] Some of these include an association between unattractive individuals and dishonesty, unintelligence, failure and incompetence.[19] However, attractiveness and intelligence have been shown to be positively correlated.[20] Factors contributing to a perceived unattractiveness among humans include facial asymmetry; however, its significance varies across cultures[21] and among women seeking a male partner, may also vary according to the specific stage of her menstrual cycle.[22] Among medieval western cultures, a marker of unattractiveness in artwork was sometimes marked by protuberances in one physical body.[23] Some studies found that love-shyness, ineffectiveness at courtship and sexlessness were traits more pronounced among people who self-described as unattractive.[24]

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,[25] a pot belly, a micropenis,[26] a negative canthal tilt and browbridge,[27] an unchiseled jawline, a recessed chin[28], sporadic facial hair and a receding hairline.[29] Some fictional characters are frequently described as ugly, such as Quasimodo,[30] and sometimes also real life individuals such as Joseph Merrick.[31]

Other organismsEdit

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.[32][33] Some studies have shown that unattractive birds, particularly, Bluethroats guard their mates more assertively.[34] 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.[35] 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[36] and in the pieridae classification of butterfly.[37]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Perpinyà, Núria (2014). Ruins, Nostalgia and Ugliness. Five Romantic perceptions of Middle Ages and a spoon of Game of Thrones and Avant-garde oddity. Berlin: Logos Verlag.
  2. ^ Mayyasi, Alex (8 April 2016). "Online Dating and the Death of the 'Mixed-Attractiveness' Couple". Priceonomics. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  3. ^ Kligman, Albert M.; Koblenzer, Carol (1997). "Demographics and psychological implications for the aging population". Dermatologic Clinics. 15 (4): 549–553. doi:10.1016/S0733-8635(05)70464-2.
  4. ^ Aiken, Debbie. "Something for the "older woman"..." BBC Lancashire.
  5. ^ "15 Signs He's A 'Red Piller'dd (And Why You Should Back Away STAT)". YourTango.
  6. ^ a b Martin, Andy (August 10, 2010). "The Phenomenology of Ugly". The New York Times. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  7. ^ Carpenter, F. B. (1866). Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln. New York: Hurd and Houghton. ISBN 1-58218-120-9.
  8. ^ Hamermesh, Daniel (August 27, 2011). "Ugly? You May Have a Case". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  9. ^ McKelvie, Stuart J.; Coley, James (1993). "Effects of crime seriousness and offender facial attractiveness on recommended treatment". Social Behavior and Personality. 21 (4): 265–277. doi:10.2224/sbp.1993.21.4.265.
  10. ^ Mühleisen, Wencke (2008). "Staging Gender and Sexuality in Experimental TV Entertainment". Journal of Homosexuality. 54 (1–2): 169–191. doi:10.1080/00918360801952069.
  11. ^ Warhurst, Chris; van den Broek, Diane; Hall, Richard; Nickson, Dennis (February 2009). "Lookism: The New Frontier of Employment Discrimination?". Journal of Industrial Relations. 51 (1): 131–136. doi:10.1177/0022185608096808. ISSN 0022-1856.
  12. ^ Reel, Justine J.; Bucciere, Robert A. (2010). "Ableism and body image: Conceptualizing how individuals are marginalized". Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal. 19 (1): 91–97. doi:10.1123/wspaj.19.1.91.
  13. ^ Steinberg, Neil. "Facial discrimination: Living with a disfigured face". CNN. CNN. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  14. ^ de Jong, Michelle; Collins, Anthony (2017). "Love and looks: A discourse of romantic love and consumer culture". Acta Academica. 49 (1): 84–102. doi:10.18820/24150479/aa49i1.5.
  15. ^ Adomaitis, Alyssa Dana Dana; Raskin, Rachel; Saiki, Diana (2017). "Appearance Discrimination: Lookism and the Cost to the American Woman". The Seneca Falls Dialogues Journal. 2 (1).
  16. ^ Harris, Candice; Small, Jennie (2013). "Obesity and hotel staffing: Are hotels guilty of 'lookism'?". Hospitality & Society. 3 (2): 111–127. doi:10.1386/hosp.3.2.111_1.
  17. ^ "The line of beauty". The Economist. 27 August 2011.
  18. ^ Baumeister, Roy F.; Tice, Dianne M. (1990). "Point-counterpoints: Anxiety and social exclusion" (PDF). Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 9 (2): 165. doi:10.1521/jscp.1990.9.2.165.
  19. ^ Byrnes, Deborah A. (1987). "The physically unattractive child". Childhood Education. 64 (2): 80–85. doi:10.1080/00094056.1987.10521512.
  20. ^ Kanazawa, Satoshi (2011). "Intelligence and physical attractiveness☆". Intelligence. 39 (1): 7–14. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2010.11.003.
  21. ^ Little, Anthony C.; Apicella, Coren L.; Marlowe, Frank W. (2007-12-22). "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 B: Biological Sciences. 274 (1629): 3113. doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.0895. PMC 2293939. PMID 17925281.
  22. ^ Gangestad, Steven W.; Simpson, Jeffry A.; Cousins, Alita J.; Garver-Apgar, Christine E.; Christensen, P. Niels (March 2004). "Women's Preferences for Male Behavioral Displays Change Across the Menstrual Cycle" (PDF). Psychological Science. 15 (3): 203–207. doi:10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.01503010.x. ISSN 0956-7976. PMID 15016293.
  23. ^ Baker, Naomi (2010). Plain ugly: The unattractive body in early modern culture. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9780719068744.
  24. ^ Pashos, Alexander; Niemitz, Carsten (2003). "Results of an explorative empirical study on human mating in Germany: Handsome men, not high-status men, succeed in courtship". Anthropologischer Anzeiger. 61 (3): 331–341. doi:10.1127/anthranz/61/2003/331. JSTOR 29542475.
  25. ^ Petrie, Trent A.; Tripp, Margaret M.; Harvey, Pejcharat (September 2002). "Factorial and Construct Validity of the Body Parts Satisfaction Scale-Revised: An Examination of Minority and Nonminority Women". Psychology of Women Quarterly. 26 (3): 213–221. doi:10.1111/1471-6402.00060. ISSN 0361-6843.
  26. ^ Wylie, Kevan R.; Eardley, Ian (2007). "Penile size and the 'small penis syndrome'". BJU International. 99 (6): 1449–1455. doi:10.1111/j.1464-410X.2007.06806.x. PMID 17355371.
  27. ^ Husein, Omar F.; Sepehr, Ali; Garg, Rohit; Sina-Khadiv, Mehdi; Gattu, Shilpa; Waltzman, Joshua; Wu, Edward C.; Shieh, Mason; Heitmann, Gregory M. (November 2010). "Anthropometric and aesthetic analysis of the Indian American woman's face". Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery. 63 (11): 1825–1831. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2009.10.032.
  28. ^ Thompson, L. A.; Madrid, V.; Westbrook, S.; Johnston, V. (December 2001). "Infants attend to second-order relational properties of faces". Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 8 (4): 769–777. doi:10.3758/BF03196216. ISSN 1069-9384.
  29. ^ Muscarella, Frank; Cunningham, Michael R. (January 1996). "The evolutionary significance and social perception of male pattern baldness and facial hair". Ethology and Sociobiology. 17 (2): 99–117. doi:10.1016/0162-3095(95)00130-1.
  30. ^ Chinchilla, Oscar Delgado (2012). "Towards a Better Understanding of the Ugly in Literature" (PDF). Revista de Lenguas Modernas. 17: 323–339.
  31. ^ Foreman-Peck, Lorraine (1985). "Evaluating children's talk about literature: A theoretical perspective". Children's Literature in Education. 16 (4): 203–218. doi:10.1007/BF01139664.
  32. ^ Andersson, Johan; Borg-Karlson, Anna-Karin; Wiklund, Christer (7 July 2000). "Sexual cooperation and conflict in butterflies: a male-transferred anti-aphrodisiac reduces harassment of recently mated females". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 267 (1450): 1271–1275. doi:10.1098/rspb.2000.1138. ISSN 0962-8452. PMC 1690675. PMID 10972120.
  33. ^ King, B. H.; Saporito, K. B.; Ellison, J. H.; Bratzke, R. M. (February 2005). "Unattractiveness of mated females to males in the parasitoid wasp Spalangia endius" (PDF). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 57 (4): 350–356. doi:10.1007/s00265-004-0863-9. ISSN 0340-5443.
  34. ^ Johnsen, Arild; Lifjeld, Jan T. (2010-04-26). "Unattractive Males Guard Their Mates More Closely: an Experiment with Bluethroats (Aves, Turdidae: Luscinia s. svecica)". Ethology. 101 (3): 200–212. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0310.1995.tb00358.x.
  35. ^ Houtman, Anne M. (1992). "Female zebra finches choose extra-pair copulations with genetically attractive males". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences. 249 (1324): 3–6. doi:10.1098/rspb.1992.0075.
  36. ^ Whittier, Joan M.; Mason, Robert T.; Crews, David (March 1985). "Mating in the red-sided garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis: differential effects on male and female sexual behavior". Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 16 (3): 257–261. doi:10.1007/BF00310989. ISSN 0340-5443.
  37. ^ Andersson, Johan; Borg-Karlson, Anna-Karin; Wiklund, Christer (1 June 2003). "Antiaphrodisiacs in Pierid Butterflies: A Theme with Variation!". Journal of Chemical Ecology. 29 (6): 1489–1499. doi:10.1023/A:1024277823101. ISSN 1573-1561. PMID 12918930.