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"Ugly" Betty? - helen-louise
baratron
baratron
"Ugly" Betty?
There's an advert on some bus stops round here that's bothering the hell out of me. Apparently a programme called "Ugly Betty" is starting here on 5th January.

Um. Is it me, or is she not ugly at all? The photo on the bus stops shows the lead character with thick, glossy brown hair; smooth, unblemished coffee-coloured skin; deep brown eyes; and a pair of totally hot reddish purple geek glasses. Sure, she has braces on her teeth, but they're not forever. And she dresses like Velma from Scooby Doo, but that kind of nerd chic is refreshing compared to fashion victims.

Um. She's not ugly. She's a beautiful geek girl, and I would love to have her pick me up in the library. So, er, what's the programme's point?

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From: hatter Date: 3rd January 2007 20:55 (UTC) (Link)
But she has glasses ! And braces ! And dresses funny ! How on earth could she be attractive, everyone's far too shallow to have to think of her outwith these things. I fear that a tv series couldn't be any more subtle about it, and still have a big audience get the point.


the hatter
baratron From: baratron Date: 3rd January 2007 22:11 (UTC) (Link)
I'm thinking of Mimi in the Drew Carey show. Now that character, I think, was ugly because she was so ridiculously over-the-top. She wore far too much makeup - about as much as the average member of Kiss - and had a silly hairstyle with big bows in it like a 5 year old - and wore crazy outfits with too many frills. And she was obsessed with those horrible plastic trolls! Worst of all, she was mean and spiteful.

It takes more than bad clothes, glasses and braces to make someone ugly. You have to have bad clothes AND have silly hair AND wear too much makeup AND be obsessed by trolls AND be thoroughly vindictive. There is a lesson in this, but I'm not sure many people would notice to observe it :/
barakta From: barakta Date: 4th January 2007 01:21 (UTC) (Link)
t takes more than bad clothes, glasses and braces to make someone ugly. You have to have bad clothes AND have silly hair AND wear too much makeup AND be obsessed by trolls AND be thoroughly vindictive.

I fear you have just described my younger sibling *grin*. I can't say I grok this ugly betty thing either - shall add it to the list of shit on TV which I shall successfully ignore.
the_siobhan From: the_siobhan Date: 3rd January 2007 21:01 (UTC) (Link)
I haven't seen the show, but a few of the blogs I read have talked about it.

It's supposedly about some girl who is from the "wrong side" of town and who doesn't know The Rules when she starts working on the "right side" and so is held up for redicule. The point is that she's not ugly at all - just different.
baratron From: baratron Date: 3rd January 2007 21:57 (UTC) (Link)
The problem is, while the programme itself may well show "beautiful" people acting in ugly ways along with "ugly" Betty being rather kind and sweet, in the meantime the girl is flashed up on billboards with a big "ugly" label for all the people who haven't watched the show to pass judgement on. Bearing in mind that the programme doesn't even start here until Friday, it's rather difficult for anyone to have seen it yet or to have absorbed its moral :/

I have good body image, now, but part of me can't help looking at the photo and thinking I guess I must be ugly too because I don't pluck my eyebrows. I worry about the effect it'll have on young, impressionable teenagers. The girl in the advert looks almost exactly like me when i was a teenager: our skin colour, hair colour and body shape are almost identical. And I did genuinely believe I was ugly because I was a geek and didn't fit in with other people's standards of beauty.

And it's frustrating to have the "yes, h-l, you ARE an alien" concept reinforced by advertising again :/
the_siobhan From: the_siobhan Date: 3rd January 2007 22:57 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I get what you're saying. I think the message in the show (it's not her, it's them) is a better one than the ad for it.
memevector From: memevector Date: 3rd January 2007 23:22 (UTC) (Link)
yes, totally agree

a) she is not ugly whatsoever in my book (oddly enough I think those kind of braces look sort of cool too) although she is doing kind of a weird smile in the pic

b) but the effect of the advert will be pernicious

as soon as I saw it I thought: some unfortunate kid with a superficial resemblance to the pic is going to be called "Ugly Betty" in the playground tomorrow...

which led to a further uncheery trail of thought about media and the people who work in it and what sort of responsibility they take for the effects of what they do...
From: fluffymormegil Date: 3rd January 2007 21:41 (UTC) (Link)
She's wearing the most unflattering facial expression possible, but yeah, she's hot :)
taimatsu From: taimatsu Date: 3rd January 2007 22:11 (UTC) (Link)
I also think she's attractive, although I could stand to see her without whatever the odd piece of jewellery is that she's wearing.

I read some article about the programme somewhere; the conceit is that there's a magazine or something, the male boss of which cannot pay attention to his work because he's always surrounded by attractive women. So they have to find him a PA he won't fancy so he can get some work done. This bothers me in ways I cannot quite summon the energy to articulate.

It was a popular show in Colombia(?) and part of the point is apparently that Betty doesn't get made over (like in most of these things) - she stays the way she is. But you're right about the poster slogan.
the_siobhan From: the_siobhan Date: 3rd January 2007 22:57 (UTC) (Link)
I hadn't heard about that part. You're right, that is pretty oogy.
rmjwell From: rmjwell Date: 4th January 2007 04:55 (UTC) (Link)
I've seen the show here in the US and I quite like it.

The boss is not just surrounded by beautiful women; he's the son of the magazine's owner and is quite the skirt chaser (he has a history of bedding his assistants). So Betty is hired moreso because she is Unattractive[tm] than for her skill as an assistant (which she demonstrates in short order).

One of the executive producers is Salma Hayak and she has been committed to making the show a good one, which by my lights it is.
xlerb From: xlerb Date: 3rd January 2007 22:54 (UTC) (Link)
Um. Is it me, or is she not ugly at all?

That was more or less my thought when I saw one of those ads on the subway here a few months ago.
maniackatie From: maniackatie Date: 3rd January 2007 23:08 (UTC) (Link)
Yeeeeep. This just proves once more how screwed in the head society is =p

Nerdy, yes. Ugly, no.
moo58 From: moo58 Date: 4th January 2007 04:36 (UTC) (Link)
It's a great show - please watch it! Betty rules!

She's Mexican, from the Bronx, and works at a fashion magazine. It's a wonderful show; I love it!
nmg From: nmg Date: 4th January 2007 10:12 (UTC) (Link)
Have we seen adverts for the same series? I've seen the TV teaser spots (parodies of well-known fashion ads, with the models wearing braces and big glasses), and came to a very different conclusion. Based on what I've read of its origins (Colombian telenovela) and plot outline, it seems to be more a satire on the mores and attitudes in the fashion industry, not unlike The Devil Wears Prada.

The teasers bear this out, in my opinion. The ads that they're parodying have a very homogeneous notion of beauty, but one that we don't even notice any more because the fashion industry and Hollywood have done a very good job of inculcating 'standard beauty' in society. In the teasers, this is turned on its head; the braces and glasses aesthetic replaces standard beauty, and we then notice that all of the beautiful people conform to the same aesthetic. It's a witty conceit that plays on our preconceptions and prejudices.

I'll hold back from commenting on the programme itself until I've seen it.
baratron From: baratron Date: 4th January 2007 14:33 (UTC) (Link)
Like I said, it's a poster on the bus stop that's bothering me. I don't watch TV, so wouldn't see the adverts on the television for it.

I'm fairly sure I would agree with the moral suggested by the programme itself - that "beauty" comes more from actions than looks. But the poster is sending out a message that is directly opposed to that. All we see on the poster is what the girl looks like and the big label "Ugly". And that really bothers me.
(Deleted comment)
sashajwolf From: sashajwolf Date: 4th January 2007 18:09 (UTC) (Link)
It's not just you. The trailers have been giving me hives.
36 From: 36 Date: 25th January 2007 21:25 (UTC) (Link)
Having watched 3 episodes now, no one but the bitchy superficial people at Vogue (called 'Mode' in the show) Magazine call her ugly or disrespect her for her presentation, she's respected in her own community.

It's more of a satire against the fashion industry than anything else. The 'Beauty has a new face' TV trailers were really positive and again satirising famous fashion ads.

I wonder if Betty is supposed to be dyspraxic though, because she fails to spot when she's being disrespected, fails when she tries to fit in (unlike in Devil Wears Prada) and constantly knocks stuff over and trips up.
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