How the ugly came out of anonymity, the story of a revenge


“The hidden beauty of the ugly, the ugly / Seen without delay, delay”, sang the cabbage-headed man at the end of the 1970s. Today, the ugly is no longer hiding. The white is claimed, exhibited or even exploited, in the same way as beauty. Fashion journalist Alice Pfeiffer shares her love of unsightly objects in “Le Goût du moche” (Flammarion). Animals with a physical disability are just as popular, if not more, than others on the internet. People willingly exhibit, on social networks, what the standard calls at best “defects”: protuberances and pus of acne pimples in close-up, wrinkled skin of a belly distended by pregnancy, stretch marks underlined by glitter gilded, reminiscent of the Japanese method of kintsugi which glues together broken earthenware using gold powder.

And now John Waters, pope of bad taste, publishes his memoirs in the form of “Impure advice from an old disgusting” (Actes Sud). We see an ode to his deliciously villainous characters, including that of Hatchet-face, a glamorous woman with a twisted face in the film “Cry-Baby”. The impossible standards of beauty remain, of course. But a counter-culture, which does not date from yesterday, takes back its rights: it is no longer a question of being pretty or perfect, but of being “real”, in what reality can be ugly.

Dusty criteria of beauty

Thus Lizzie Velasquez, described as the woman “Ugliest in the world” by a youtuber in 2007 – she had no

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