“You’re ugly.”

NOTE: I started writing this a couple of months ago but never got around to finishing it and posting it. It dovetails nicely with yesterday’s post on ageism, so I’m sharing it now.

I was involved in a Twitter conversation a while back in which a misogynist attempted to debate an online friend of mine, got his arse handed to him, and then — when I tweeted my friend a reaction GIF — responded by informing me, “You’re ugly” and then blocking me before I had time to reply.

I find it interesting that the average misogynist’s first line of defense, whenever he feels threatened by a woman, is to attack her looks, as if his opinion of her physical appearance ever has had or ever will have any effect on her life.

Why bother?

Because nothing makes an insecure man feel better than attacking a woman — particularly a woman he views as being strong, confident or intelligent. Because women are conditioned from birth to believe our value depends on our attractiveness to the cishet-white-male gaze, a cheap shot at a woman’s looks is often the easiest way to rattle her confidence and call her value into question.

This weak attempt at psychological warfare works only if we let it.

I don’t consider myself ugly, but I’m fully aware some people do. That’s fine, and I want my nieces to know that’s fine. Everybody has different aesthetic preferences, and that’s OK. But I also want the girls to know this:

Being told I’m ugly has never stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do.

I'm not everybody's cup of tea. That fact has never kept me from enjoying a glorious afternoon in the Mojave.
I’m not everybody’s cup of tea. Neither is the Mojave Desert. If she doesn’t mind, why should I? Being appreciated is nice, but our existence doesn’t depend on it.

It didn’t cost me any scholarships. It didn’t hurt my grades. It didn’t adversely affect my career. It didn’t discourage Ron from marrying me. It didn’t keep me from crossing two marathon finish lines, adopting a houseful of pets, or publishing a novel.

I’ve done exactly as I pleased for most of my life, and I’ve done it with an oversized Celtic snout and a mop of messy curls that don’t quite meet some people’s standards for feminine beauty.

I want my nieces to know that, because they are going to encounter hateful people who don’t like the way they look, and they need to know those people’s opinions don’t matter. They need to know they can go after their dreams, and no amount of lip service from ignorant misogynists can stop them.

They need to know. And I’d be a lousy aunt if I didn’t teach them.


4 thoughts on ““You’re ugly.””

  1. But…what…? Ugly? Seriously? Besides being undeniably untrue, what a lame retort, courtesy of elementary school. I’ve had the same response as well when I gave an idiot a piece of my mind at an event, and he simply said, “You’re so ugly,” and, quite literally, shuffled away, unwilling to hear my comeback because he simply wasn’t “man” enough to take that (you know, an intelligent woman with a snappy comeback to a stupid retort). It’s just…I just had to laugh at the stupidity of it, and the people around me were gobsmacked that an ADULT would be so blatantly rude, never mind moronic, in public like that.

    1. People are ridiculous. Doubly so on Twitter, where they’re basing their judgments on a minuscule avatar that may or may not actually be a picture of the person they’re addressing. I’m still not completely sure whether this guy’s comment was directed at me or Alex Kingston, who was featured in the GIF I’d posted.

      I know several black women on Twitter who deliberately changed their avis to pictures of white men as a sort of social experiment. Predictably, the trolls whose lives revolve around misogynoir vanished when they believed they were addressing a white man and reappeared when the women returned to their usual avis. The best part? One girl’s handle — which she didn’t change — included the words “black girl,” yet the trolls STILL responded better when she used the white-guy photo.

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