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The importance of being earnest May 26, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, friends.
Tags: , , , , ,

I have this grotesquely ugly friend who, for some reason, finds himself totally hot (which makes him like…a lot of other people I know). Don’t ask me why. He’s the kind of dude who is baffled why he can’t seem to make it with women, and he thinks that a mere glance his way from a chick means that she’s checking him out. It irritates the hell out of me, but I try not to let it register on my face.

One day, this friend puts me on the spot: “Am I ugly?”

I was so caught off-guard that it literally took me ten seconds to answer. And the only B.S. I could come up with was, “Don’t ask me that question. I have weird taste when it comes to aesthetics.”

It’s one of those things where I’m damn sure I could have come up with a better response if I’d had the chance to concoct one beforehand. So anyway, this weird little exchange has prompted me to ask you guys, since I am completely curious (and would like a better response for the next time somebody asks me that question):

What is the meanest/smartest/wittiest/most hurtful/most evasive response you’ve given when an ugly friend had asked you if s/he was ugly?

Or, if you haven’t been asked that before (consider yourself lucky), what would you say? Would you pick tact or honesty?



1. Emily - May 26, 2008

Q: What is the meanest/smartest/wittiest/most hurtful/most evasive response you’ve given when an ugly friend had asked you if s/he was ugly?

A: No you’re not. You don’t have the typical beauty, I think your kind of beauty is exotic,

2. George - May 26, 2008

Apparantly I’m quite lucky because I’ve never been asked 😛 Although I assume that’s a result of my gender more than anything. (Or maybe a result of my having no friends – although considering I can’t prove either explanation I’ll go with the first, as I like that one more).

As a side note, interesting blog you have here. I must confess that I went the opposite way to you. Teenage former atheist who lives in an increasingly (and predominantly I’d say – especially among the youths) atheist country. Hopefully I didn’t miss a sign on my entrance which said no theists :P.

3. Ecstatic - May 27, 2008

Its about feeling ugly and feeling pretty. Thats God gifted. Humans have better things to rediscover their beauties and flaws. Next time if someone, who is still unaware, asks you such questions, tell them that they are not ugly as long as they don’t think they are ugly. God has perfectly equalized the human race by giving ugliness some beauties and giving beauty some scars. Selling dream isn’t expensive, is it?
Its what you feel about yourself that determines whether you are ugly or not. Don’t misuse this concept, improve yourself if you have some empty spaces. If the most imperfect humans can dare to say that they are perfect, It can be possible to wrap anything in a beautiful cover. Its not what it is, Its how it is. Not what you are, but what you think you are.

4. Citronella - May 27, 2008

Nobody ever asked me that question. Nor if they were good-looking. It’s actually rare that I’m asked to give my aesthetic opinion on some other person who’s not in the room any more.

It might be because people know I’m weird 🙂

All in all, I would say something along the line of “not being featured in a Calvin Klein ad does not mean you’re ugly” and “beauty is subjective” and “of course not, you’re not ugly”.

5. Ubiquitous Che - May 27, 2008

Beauty is such a relative term.

6. Josh Charles - May 27, 2008

I like your answer, mainly because in my case, it’s true 😛

7. virtual asylum « a reprise. of work and regimented lunch hours - May 27, 2008

[…] most interesting thing that has happened is reading a teenage athetist’s blog entry on the importance of being earnest. i’m trapped in a virtual asylum, talking to my colleagues on MSN all day long when […]

8. Jennifer - May 27, 2008

Your answer is better than anything I could have come up with on the spot! What an awful question to spring on someone.

I’d probably go with “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” One of my high school teachers described beauty as being “an emotional thing,” which I’ve always liked the thought of.

9. Oldguy - May 27, 2008

Ugly is such an emotive word, with connotations which go way beyond physical appearance. When a person is called ugly or thinks of himself as ugly it creates negative feelings about all aspects of himself as a human being. Not just looks. I don’t know this person but I feel that if he is asking the question then he is not as self assured as you think. He has doubts and is looking for reassurance. Not just about his looks but also about such things as; is he liked by people?, does he fit in?, is he seen as someone of value? This is about his self esteem. So I think the correct answer is always “No, you are definitely not ugly” followed by as many truly positive things about him as you can find to say. If he is asking the question then he probably won’t believe you but he still wants to hear it and it costs nothing to say. I’m afraid that answers such as “Beauty is a relative term” will be taken as “Yes, you are ugly”.

10. alinaphoenix - May 28, 2008

I agree with Oldguy …

It’s very difficult to know the right thing to say when someone asks you point blank like that. And ugliness has such negative associations, and can be taken on so many different levels. When someone asks a question like that, it goes so much deeper than the words.

I also think Oldguy has a wonderful approach. I couldn’t think of a better way to put it myself.

Wishing all the ability to see the beauty within,

11. tungtide - May 28, 2008

Beauty is much like singing ability. Most people think they are much better than they are. (In my case I have neither, just a big ego).

As difficult as it may be, telling him the truth is probably the better solution in the long run. It doesn’t have to be blatant, but he’ll turn out alright in the end.

12. Richard Collins - May 28, 2008

No you are not ugly, I always peer at people through the fingers of my right hand.

13. Richard Collins - May 28, 2008

I don´t know. Why don´t you go ask Simon Cowell.

14. atheistgirl - May 30, 2008

Ugh. Don’t ask me about beauty. *launches into long speech about how the human population has become too caught up in cosmetic appearances*

15. Teen Atheist - May 30, 2008

I don’t know. Why don’t you go ask Simon Cowell.

Congratulations, Richard Collins, for being the only guy whose suggestion I’m actually going to use. That’s brilliance right there.

16. Teen Atheist - May 30, 2008

George: Don’t worry, as long as you’re not one of those boneheads are like “YOU’RE GOIN TO HELL HEATHEN!!!111” then you’re welcome here. 🙂

17. Teen Atheist - May 30, 2008


Beauty is much like singing ability. Most people think they are much better than they are. (In my case I have neither, just a big ego).

Hee! This made my day. 😀

18. Teen Atheist - May 30, 2008

Emily, George, Citronella, Josh Charles, Jennifer, tungtide, Richard Collins, Ubiquitous Che:

Thank you for making comments that are actually related to the question I posted, instead of going on a pretentious, long-winded, and most of all unsolicited tirade on your thoughts on beauty and how “ugly is such a hateful word.”

Y’all can’t imagine the number of times I rolled my eyes reading some of the comments here.

Everybody: There are pretty people and there are unpretty people in the world. Everyone values aesthetics way more than you’d like to believe. Get used to it.

19. Ubiquitous Che - May 30, 2008

Hmm… You didn’t mention me. I guess I wasn’t clear.

I have been asked that question, and my response was:

“Beauty is such a relative term,” in a particularly cutting tone of voice… So it was really like saying ‘Yep, you’re ugly’ only in a disingenous tone of voice.

In my defense, the person who sprang the question on me had been annoying me at the time.

20. Teen Atheist - May 30, 2008

My humblest apologies, Ubiquitous Che! I must have overlooked your comment while listing them all down. Have fixed the error. 🙂

21. the Shaggy - May 31, 2008

Y’know, I haven’t been asked that exactly, but I have found that outright saying “What kind of a question is that?” and scolding them for even thinking the question is relevant in the first place tends to work.

I mean, I’m far more evasive and such, but it is a question that can never be answered fairly, so I figure that it shouldn’t be asked to normal people (i.e. people whose relationship to you isn’t based on looks).

22. Agersomnia - June 2, 2008

A) Educated: “Don’t try to win a beauty contest. Judges are biased towards bulimic Barbie types, and you are halthier than that”.

B) Long-winded speech: “You know, about half your appearance depends on how you feel with yourself, and the other half on how well-kept is your image. I won’t tell you which you must take care off, but right now you’re about average”.

C) Mean or witty, your pick: “You are like… from another world. Far too [ugly/pretty] for this one”.

D) Simple: “You’re not a super model baby, but you’re not that bad either”

And in truth, maybe is not half-half as option B said, but self-image changes attitude towards people, and that is perceived. Image is important, as anyone probably has noticed, but even “pretty” people need to spend time and resources to make natural aesthetics really stand out from the crowd.
Have you seen the ad by Dove with the photoshoped model?

It gives everyone a glimpse on how or perceptions have changed thanks to the media.

23. Teen Atheist - June 6, 2008

Great answers, Agersomnia!

24. DFG - July 4, 2008

An ex-girlfriend of mine told me that she was fat, ugly, and stupid. I told her straight up that she was beautiful, that if she worried about fat she should exercise, and that she was very creative so not being book smart was clearly no problem.

She’s a very calm person and handled the truthfulness nicely. To others, I’d say “Don’t put me on the spot. I’d never do that to you.”

25. CrypticLife - July 8, 2008

“No, you’re not, it’s just your face [that’s ugly]”

Though, to be honest, I’ve pretty much lied through my teeth whenever asked this question. It makes it hard if it’s a girl with low self-esteem you’re trying to turn down easy (incidentally, I regret one of those — in high school, a short and pudgy girl wanted to date me. She was ugly, but didn’t lack self-esteem. I should have dated her. I have never regretted turning down a girl with self-esteem issues). Worse, someone (a guy) recently asked me if they were stupid.

I don’t actually put a lot of value on things like this. It’s very nice to be beautiful and/or smart, of course, but I do my best not to judge people harshly for being neither. I know people judge themselves on it, though.

26. truepenny - July 21, 2008

My ex-boyfriend to me as I’m flipping through TV channels: Do you think I’m ugly?
Me: *pause* …What? Oh, look what’s on TV!

Yeah, that relationship fizzled out pretty fast after that ordeal.

Unfortunately, any response other than a direct “no” is likely going to be taken as a “yes.”

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