My ugly exploration seems to be dividing people fairly sharply down the centre; some find they can not get across reclamation because of their relationship with the word, or how it seems to reinforce beauty ideals/ a binary between ugliness and beauty, while others find it resonates strongly with their experiences. I am listening to a lot of feedback on the topic and it’s been terribly complex to navigate through it all, because I am not objective and am swayed by my own experience and embodiment.
One thing is patently clear: I can never seek to speak on behalf of any other person when it comes down to identity. I can reflect on what it’s like to be fat, disabled, acned, cisgendered and white and how my body has been viewed as ugly. I can not ever know what it is like to be a person of colour or trans, and I can not ever understand how the word “ugly” can hurt someone who isn’t me.
I am now very concerned about my use of people of colour in this series of drawings because it’s pretty messed up of me, a white person, to reinforce that dominant and damaging idea that people of colour are ugly because they aren’t white. Unless I am drawing a person of colour who identifies as ugly, I will not put that identity on them in the future. It’s not down to me to reclaim anything on behalf of any marginalised person who isn’t me, and I apologise for not checking my white privilege.
My thoughts on the ugly concept are still muddled and having the opportunity to read and listen to discussion prompted by my drawings is of such great value, whether people are vehemently opposed to OR empowered by the concept of ugly reclamation. I know that when I reclaim ugly for me, I don’t want to stop using the word “beautiful” and other synonyms for beauty, like lovely and gorgeous and hot and cute. It’s not a case of one or the other, it’s knowing I can be ugly cute and rock the shit out of it. I want to cease fretting about being acceptably palatable to the world and be more concerned with maximising my already present awesomeness.
Here are some links to good stuff on the issue of ugly:
You sho is ugly on Nudemuse
Conversation on tumblr, which thanks to tumblr’s functionality must be explored through the notes because there is a LOT of commentary that has been added.
Moving Toward The Ugly: A Politic Beyond Desirability on Leaving Evidence (h/t to Tiara for reminding me of this amazing keynote speech)
Finally I’ll just add this video clip for Ugly by 2NE1. Zoe showed it to me the other night and I wanted to make sure I included it in my information gathering so I would be reminded to look for commentary on the song, video, and band.