A recent study published in Europe’s Journal of Psychology seemed to verify ‘the beauty premium’, or ‘ugly penalty’, by showing that beautiful people earn more money. To be honest, I think most of us didn’t need a study to tell us this; life experience already had. But upon further investigation, it seems it was a little more complicated than it first appeared.
When you think your son is ugly, or that someone else’s is, just keep it in perspective. Though attractiveness plays a role in self-esteem, in actuality, studies show more emphasis on intelligence, extroversion, and health. Also, a sense of humor and leadership are traits most desirable in men.
As a mom of three sons, I find it shocking that some parents could ever think their son is ugly. However, apparently it does happen from time to time. This idea, along with that referenced study, is what spurred my interest for this article.
In it, I look at what it means to have an ugly son; why someone is considered ugly, and what to do about it (if anything); the disadvantages and yes, the positives, of being ugly; and some related trivia.
I hope it enlightens you like it did me to the point of realizing how very shallow it all is in the end!
What does it mean to have an ugly son?
So to be sure we’re on the same page, let’s first address what it means to be ugly, or have an ugly son.
An ugly son brings to mind a male with exaggerated or irregular facial features, but another definition arises after second thought. This image is a son who’s misbehaved and problematic. A child not conventionally attractive but well-behaved and respectful is rarely thought ugly, and vice versa.
So to have an ugly son, you might think it implies your son doesn’t look as attractive as other people’s sons of the same age.
Ugly: unpleasant or repulsive, especially in appearance.Oxford Languages
For instance, regarding attractiveness, we commonly look for symmetrical features and evidence of good health, according to multiple studies. If your son is uncommonly small, or his features are not proportional, then it may seem like he’s ugly.
For boys, too, it can be cultural, what’s considered attractive. In some places, having dark hair is more desired, whereas in others, it might be having blue eyes that is. Some cultures prize really fat baby boys, while others think it’s better if their son is lean and tall, or born bald.
Some parents admit to, then, comparing their son to their friends’ and evaluating how they measure up.
However, what’s often the case when parents call their son ugly is that they’re referring to his behavior. An ugly son, in this case, means he’s acting ill-mannered and uncooperative. He’s being a bully; disrespectful; or some other disordered, inappropriate way.
The latter seems by most people’s standards, then, to be a more acceptable reason for calling your son ugly than the former. But to be honest, both are not really ideal.
It’s better to not call your son ugly at all, but to focus on what is ugly, not who!
More articles about sons like this one from Little Ninja Parenting:
- What to Know About Sons Who Hate Their Mothers
- Wondering If You Should Let Your Son Get A Tattoo? (Don’t)
- My Son Is Crazy Or Is He Making Me Crazy? (Explained)
Why Your Son Is Ugly (Or Mine)
So now that we have a set definition for ugly, or ugly son specifically, why is your son (or mine) that way? Why is anyone for that matter, ‘ugly’?
Why your son is ugly is largely due to facial irregularity and nonconformity, so it could be your fault genetically, but also beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or ‘culture.’ Trends seem to influence what’s considered physically desirable, too, as does individual taste, attitude and values.
To start, science tells us that overall as humans we look for symmetry in regards to appeal and attraction.
There’s a ratio formula (“the Golden Ratio of Beauty“) regarding the distance between eyes, as well as the proportionality of the eyes, nose, mouth, and chin to the size of the face that is most desired that scientists have developed.
While we regular folk don’t readily ‘know’ this, it’s picked up on imperceptibly when we look at a person. Actor Robert Pattinson is said to have the highest ratio for male beauty.
|Male Celebrity With Highest Known Ratio of Beauty
|Actor Robert Pattinson
|92.15 percent match
|Female Celebrity With Highest Known Ratio of Beauty
|Model Bella Hadid
|94.35 percent match
However, conformity is also important, in addition to symmetry and ‘ratio’.
What is meant by this is that there’s a regularity that we look for, and anything outside of that is perceived as problematic or wrong. It doesn’t mean we don’t eventually find ‘that’ attractive, but initially it might be off-putting.
This is why certain models may at first seem unattractive but after further viewing, we find them interesting and then attractive. It’s also why certain people who may have an oddity in their appearance become more attractive later the more we look at them. Think of famous celebrities like Uma Thurman and Javier Bardem as examples of this.
So when it comes to the Golden Ratio of Beauty and conformity for looks, you have to look no further than the mirror regarding your kids’ ugliness. He got that genetically, in other words!
But then there’s a trend factor in what’s ugly, or not, and why it happens.
So for instance, during the 1960s, it was ugly and nerdy to wear thick-rimmed black glasses like singer Buddy Holly, but in recent years, it was hip and cool to wear these ‘Buddy Holly ugly glasses’. Coincidentally these cheap glasses also rose in expense too!
Also, it’s not so chic to have the unkempt bed-head look, in theory, but there’s actually a popular haircare product line called ‘Bedhead’ (available at Amazon through the link) to give that sort of style that’s considered desirable and not ugly.
‘Ugly is cool’ phenomenon.
And a spin-off of this is another trend for ugly that it’s cool to actually be ugly, or to uglify oneself. This is different from the shift in ‘what was ugly’ is now cool and beautiful as in the eyeglasses or other similar fashion choices.
Instead this is the trend to actually be considered ugly as a political or ideological statement or position.
For some, it’s become virtuous to be ugly. Some celebrities have done this to make themselves look ugly so that you don’t look at their natural ‘pretty’ appearance and take them more seriously. (This is not the same as Johnny Depp case per se, since he wasn’t doing it as a political statement, but to actually garner more roles by being a regular guy, in contrast to the above-average looking guy.)
Examples of this are more inclined to be female (e.g. Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato) than male though.
This kind of uglification represents a type of rebellion against norms and standards. These celebs cut their hair a weird or unfashionable style or deliberately wear unflatteringly things so that they push against what actually helped get them famous in the first place.
The effect, ironically, of course is that this ‘new ugly’ often spawns a ‘new pretty’ due to their celeb status or popularity, thereby negating the original impact they intended, in my opinion.
What To Do If Your Son Is Ugly
So what should parents do if they have an ugly son? Should this even be a concern at all?
The best way to deal with an ugly son depends on what is meant by it, and to what degree. There are ways to off set physical deficiencies without going overboard, but if a son is ugly by behavior, then it’s important to correct that directly. It’s also vital to focus on real issues that matter.
Tips for Enhancing Physical Attractiveness in Sons:
- Parents should first and foremost teach good grooming and hygiene habits. No matter how attractive a person is, if he (or she) smells bad or is dirty, then that’s all anyone will focus on. The most beautiful mansion is ugly if it’s full of trash, after all.
- After hygiene, parents should also ensure their sons have good overall health, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Being fit is essential for attractiveness. For kids, you can promote this with healthy meals; proper bedtime; sufficient exercise (i.e. ‘active play’); and a safe, nurturing environment (this provides what’s needed for mental and emotional health).
- Beyond these essentials above, parents can help their sons with proper fitting clothes, and even more so, with trendy outfits.
- Having professionally cut hair also helps.
- And supporting your son with understanding etiquette and manners; teaching respect; and helping with talking skills will all go towards your son putting his best foot forward in any situation.
None of the tips are extreme, but all require continual reinforcement and consistency in order for it to become routine and engrained. And, according to this study, for women especially, what’s attractive is aptly adjusted to how they perceive your attitude and personality.
The Pros and Cons If Your Son Is Ugly
Believe it or not, there are actually pros to being ugly, and even, cons to being attractive, and the more extreme either are, the benefits and disadvantages can be too.
So what at all can be pros to being considered ugly?
There are several things that can be good about being ugly. For one, if you are below average physically by most standards, it actually gives you a chance to focus on other more important traits. Since ‘looks’ aren’t probably the center for you, people are likely to hear what you have to say or consider your other traits more favorably. In other words, no one is getting distracted by your looks, including you!
This is often cited by women as a problem-being too attractive to be taken seriously, but the same can be said for men (again, ‘the Johnny Depp’ factor).
And extremely unattractive people have been shown to actually benefit because people equate them with being intelligent. Think of the ‘smart nerd’ effect here.
Studies have also shown that it’s not beauty (or only beauty) that people elevate, but instead intelligence, health, and extroversion. These are all things you can focus on rather than beauty. You can improve intelligence via study and experience; you can increase health by taking care of yourself; and you can work on extroversion through practical application.
So are there then cons for being attractive? Yes, indeed!
For one, just think of the above information flipped. Many actresses and models, for example, have lamented being taken seriously because of their looks. This is true for actors. One example is Johnny Depp. He’s a prolific and well-acclaimed Hollywood actor but it’s obvious that he downplays his good looks in order to get more substantial roles.
Famous Ugly Sons (Men, that is)
While there are many famous sons/men who are known as much for their unfavorable appearance as their skill and talent, here’s a list of the top ten that came to my mind. What do you think? How many of these same 10 crossed your mind too, when I mentioned ‘famous ugly men’?
- Michael Jackson- Most notably known as the King of Pop, the late pop singer Michael Jackson reportedly had 100 surgeries, though he only admitted to ‘multiple surgeries’, to alter his face, suggesting his discomfort in his physical appearance. Despite such prominent success, he seemed consumed by his looks.
- Mick Jagger and Keith Richards- Both members of popular British rock band, the Rolling Stones, are just as well-known for their ‘ugly’ countenance as they are for their hit music. However, neither Mick Jagger or Keith Richards seemed to suffer from self-esteem issues, having spent a life-time earning praise, fortune, and fame, and having dating/marrying models, too.
- Danny DeVito- Actor/Comedian, DeVito is certainly acclaimed for his professional acumen, but he’s also quite clearly known as a iconic, ‘ugly’ man.
- Carrot Top-Comedian ‘Carrot Top’ has bright orange-red hair and freckles, so he embraced his ‘ugly’ and used it as his stage name.
- Jon Heder-Actor Jon Heder wrote and starred in Napoleon Dynamite, about a very odd looking and behaving teenager of the same name as the film title.
- Howard Stern- Comedian and shock jock, Howard Stern, is known for his eccentric, exaggerated looks (very tall, curly bouffant hair, large nose…)as much as he is his boundary pushing, vulgar humor.
- Albert Einstein- Renowned scientist Albert Einstein is certainly considered one of the smartest men to ever live, when he was born his head was so misshapen that his mother thought he was deformed.
- Bill Gates-This man is credited with inventing Microsoft and being one of the richest men in the world, but none of that makes him attractive. He’s considered quite nerdy.
- Prince Charles- The son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip may be a direct line to the British throne, but his image has been frequently drawn with very large ears and nose, and he’s never been thought of as a vision of ‘Prince Charming.’
- President Abraham Lincoln-Perhaps other than President George Washington, Lincoln is the most well-known and respected US president in history. However, if described, people commonly refer to him as homely.
And of course this list could go on and on! But the main reason for providing this list is simply to illustrate that despite lack of looks or being deficient in the beauty ratio, all of these men rose to the top of their fields. From acting to music to science to politics, your sons don’t have to be limited by their ugliness or any perception of it, at all!
The Takeaway of Thinking, ‘My Son Is Ugly’
So what’s the takeaway pertaining to having a son who is ugly? Keep it all in proper perspective!
Parents can help their sons if they’re less physically attractive than their peers with proper grooming, style, and hygiene. They can also support their sons by building up their leadership skills; fitness levels; and attitude, because these too impact how others view them overall.
Thus, despite the beauty ratio, people tend to adjust their opinions of someone’s attractiveness the more they know them, and like or not like them. So the best way to help your son, whether ugly or not, is to help them be good people!
For more about sons, I suggest these from Little Ninja Parenting next: