I was riding on a dollar van yesterday — you pay a local step van driver to sweep you up and down the streets so you don’t have to walk — and I overheard a conversation between a wrinkled and crusty old man and pock-faced younger boy:  “Marry an ugly girl,” the old man said in a heavy Spanish accent, “and you’ll be happy the rest of your life because she’ll be grateful for the attention and content with the ring on her finger.”


The young boy nodded his head agreeing ugly was the way to go — without realizing the punishment meted out to the ugly in our awful, brief, past — when the time arrived for a lifelong commitment.

I wondered how the old man was defining “ugly” — did he mean overweight?  Cruel personality?  Un-comely face? 
Vacant eyes? 

Do the ugly even know they’re ugly?

My instinct told me he was referring to our shared ideal for — The Human Universal Beautiful — and I wondered how we would define beauty without Artists telling us so and television stars modeling their fake facades before us and magazines editors defining “un-ugly” in glossy print for our weak minds and feeble countenances. 

I guess beauty would then truly be in the eye of the beholder, and those women nearest and dearest in our immediate circle of family and friends would serve as the individual definition of “beautiful.”  How were we ever persuaded away from that intimate definition?

That discussion between cracking elder and cratered youngster reminded me of a terrible chestnut I shared in — How to Ruin a Woman’s Wedding Day — suggesting the role of a new wife is “to keep your man’s belly full and balls empty” if you wanted to keep him happy and at home.

Are you aware of any warnings and advice provided to women against men? 

Or does the sexist undertow flow only one way:  “Ugly girls” will settle for a ring while pumping their uglier men a couple of different ways to tend a good marriage and earn everlasting happiness? 

Is there undue pressure on the woman to acquiesce her dreams and her spirit in favor of her man’s lifelong yearnings — and if that tends to be true — what happens to her worldly desires when they are revoked by a ring and repressed in a marriage certificate that tempts the ceremony for the grave and the bed for a burial?

19 Comments

  1. David!
    the ugly always know they are ugly, regardless of whether they’ve been told by someone else or not.
    The story also reminds of a time, back in my first job.
    A bunch of us were out drinking and celebrating after finishing a project. And after a few rounds, the eldest amongst us, after regaling us with some off-colour stories that do not bear repeating, told us, “If you want a really good time, don’t ever pick a pretty one!”
    This caught most of us by surprise. By this time, the alcohol was doing its stuff, our hormones were raging, and the bar was filling up with available female flesh. Breathlessly, we asked him why!
    He said, the pretty ones are trading on their looks and they know, they’ll always get picked up. Every night, new customers will come walking in and hand over their money to them. It’s the plain-looking ones, who make sure you have a good time because they depend on repeat business.
    i guess, when men demean women, they demean themselves.

  2. Dananjay —
    That’s interesting that the ugly know they are so — I guess people don’t mind telling them how ugly they are — though I know a few stereotypically “ugly” people who do not seem unaware of their status… either that, or they don’t care because their parents embedded them with high self-esteem and a total lack of caring about what others think.
    That’s a wild story about staying away from the pretty girls! I’m sure there’s some truth in that warning. Physical beauty can be fleeting and it definitely has a vivid expiration date.
    One guy I knew in high school — he was sort of smart, traditionally handsome, had a good family behind him and he was strong and athletic — married a stout woman who had none of the traditional beauty memes. People could not understand why HE would pick HER! It was pretty simple, really, she was SuperGenius smart, incredibly kind, non-judgmental, and she had a radiating warmth and made you happy just standing near her. Some of the naysayers said, “But think of the CHILDREN they’ll have together! They’ll be half him and half her! Ewww!” I thought, “Yeah. Beautiful babies they will be.”

  3. There’s an expression and I’m not quite sure how it goes but it’s something like: beauty fades, ugly is forever, and you can’t cover up a bad personality with makeup. Something like that. 🙂 I agree with you about your friend having beautiful babies.

  4. Gordon —
    That’s a fine saying! It’s amazing how important “beautiful” is in our culture across space and time.
    My friend was a brave guy — his other friends always teased him about his “fat, ugly, girlfriend” and he never flinched and never got upset and never let it bother him. He just went on his way knowing how happy his future would be with her. In reflection, he was a pretty smart guy to be so wise so young.

  5. David,
    it was good to hear about your friend. he made a decision he could live with! sort of makes me think if there’s some kernel of truth to the song “Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls”.

  6. Exactly, David!
    Clever girls make them realize things they didn’t know and would on the whole prefer not to know. I suppose, clever boys aren’t really that clever are they?

  7. Hi David,
    Well, an attractive package doesn’t always guarantee a good product!
    But, I understand, being “stamped” as ugly is tough to handle.
    http://www.experience.com/alumnus/article?channel_id=diversity&source_page=home&article_id=article_1156540837808
    One needs to have a huge amount of confidence to ignore the typical demand of the society to be “grammatically beautiful” and move on.
    Whether she will get married, stay married and feel obligated that she has been married to a better looking counter part – that is also her choice.
    http://www.familycourtchronicles.com/marriage/beauty/
    Whether “look” should be the criteria for choosing a partner is also a point for further thinking!

  8. The emphasis on external beauty does seem to be the driving force in society, Katha. Inner beauty, for some reason, is not very highly valued as a commodity for exploitation and persuasion.

  9. The society is made of “us” David, it’s only us who made the rule…it’s also us who can break it – I guess.
    Inner beauty needs more conscious effort to understand than a mere “eye candy” – we are not prepared to put that effort.

  10. I was called ‘ugly’ at school and was never regarded as pretty, although I did and still do have, a very good figure.
    It seems very tough in this society because you can’t find relationships like the pretty girls can.
    Most men just want someone with facial beauty and that’s it.
    I never had boyfriends as a teenager and was often lonely, but I found someone in the end at the age of thirty. We’ve been together now for many years, and it’s true that ugly women are less likely to stray. I have always been loyal to him becausw I know it’s the only chance I’ll ever get at some happiness.

  11. Once I had a very beautiful wife. She was very arrogant and we continued for 7 years.

    I advise men who like to marry to look for grils spirit rather than beauty.

    Most of beatiful girls think highly of themself & ignore thier husbands.

  12. THANK DAVID W.BOLES your ideas helped me I`ve fallen love with an ugly girl but my frainds havent allow to me for offering by their comment but whenever I red your ideas about this matter after 3years I decided to offer marry to her she is really really clever and supergenius smart . how can i thank you . you opened my thought`s eyes . I wish God be your aim in your life I am from Iran