Skip to main content

‘Ugly’ Beauty: the Feminist Answer to Toxic Trends?

by Lara Parry

‘Ugly’ Beauty is having a moment. But perhaps this defeats the whole point of ‘ugly’.

From bleached eyebrows to Tiktok’s ‘sad girl beauty’, the trend is everywhere at the moment. It has been seen on everyone from Julia Fox to Kim Kardashian, but is it really as subversive and male - defying as it makes out? 

So let’s delve into the topic. Bleached eyebrows are nothing new, and have been around since the 90’s as an editorial mainstay. But, they are experiencing  a comeback with the rise of the ‘Ugly’ beauty trend.  From bleached eyebrows to clumpy mascara. Falling under this trend is Tiktok’s ‘Sad Girl beauty’ trend, where young women try to emulate *that* just crying glow with beauty products. 

Nevertheless, It is great to see a trend centred on women reclaiming their bodies and not dressing for men but for themselves. ( bearing in mind these are super hot, thin, white, cis, conventionally attractive women) but it sends a better message out to young people compared to the likes of Kim Kardashian or Kendall Jenner - although the KarJenners clan have  jumped on the trend too, as Kim is the face of Balenciaga - the OG ugly fashion) And even Kourtney Kardashian has been seen sporting Black lipstick recently.  

But the main celeb in question is ‘it’ Girl, Julia Fox with a care - free outlook, she explained why she loves the look for keeping unwanted men at bay, saying “it’s kind of like a man repellent. They absolutely hate it.” in her Tiktok’s and she has also recently said that ageing is “sexy” which has recieved much backlash. 

But, trend forecasters are predicting we’ll be highlighting our imperfections next. The focus on the female gaze is so refreshing to see in popular culture thanks to these celebrities such as Julia Fox and Doja Cat. It sends a positive message out to young women and female-identifying people.Thatt we have the permission to highlight our perceived ‘inperfections’ rather than trends of yonder where the focus was to ‘conceal’  and ‘alter’ these imperfections. As western beauty standards are seeped in patriarchy.Radical acceptance is finally in. But can we ever deprogramme ourselves from the male gaze? 

London- based Makeup artist Eszter Magyar, aka MakeupBrutalism on Instagram, seems to think so. it is a “feminist approach; radicalising the female gaze. Beauty shouldn’t be a democracy as it is now, with the majority deciding what is beautiful and what is cool.” 

Because beauty has so often been ruled by the male gaze (a term coined by John Berger and referenced in his book Ways of seeing, but developed by Film Critic Laura Mulvey). The relatively new theory of the female gaze is still emerging in feminist literature. That leads to questions of whether, as women, it is being done properly, and does it matter if it isn’t? The essence of modern  feminism is to let women appear and act  how they want, without judgement. As more women call for more bodily and socal autonomy in the West. 

On the other hand, how accessible is this ‘trend’ for non- white, trans or fat people? Feminist author Margaret Atwood famously said "Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it's all a male fantasy: that you're strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it.” In a patriarchal world like ours, women are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.Yes,  perhaps  we are putting celebrities like Julia Fox on a pedestal, as most celebrities are not as brutally honest as her. Why does ‘ugly’ have to be earned? Most people are not afforded this privilege. Is this trend only reserved with those with ‘pretty privelege’? 

Additionally, what is deemed  ‘ugly’ is subjective and shaped by social norms and conventions. What is considered ‘ugly’ looks different for everyone. Just because,this trend defies the obvious conventions, is it really subversive if it’s popular? Magyar says “it became a trend (yet again) it’s good – because there is a lot of interest in my work, but on the other hand, the trend is sad for me. I’m not going against conventional beauty standards to be trendy, I’m going against them because I truly believe those are harmful and toxic.” And this is certainly true. The patriarchy and western beauty standards are harmful for everyone subjected to them. We just hope this trend of  ‘radical acceptance’ has longevity and becomes the norm. 

Most Popular

‘Make Tattooing Safe Again’: Sheffield Based Tattoo Artist Exposed for Indecent Behaviour

 by Emily Fletcher TW: SA, Animal Abuse, Transphobia Photo Credit: @ meiko_akiz uki Recently, an  Instagram account  has been created to provide a  ‘space to safely give a voice to those who want to speak out about the behaviour of one, Sheffield based tattoo artist’. A  total of 40+ posts have been made by the above social media account regarding  one of Sheffield's most popular tattoo artists .  Thankfully, all posts are prefaced with a Content Warning prior to sharing screenshots of the messages that have been sent anonymously to the page. The majority of Content Warnings refer to sexual behaviour, abuse, and sexual assault. It is clear that there is a reoccurring theme within each submission, as many clients appear to have had the same experiences with the tattoo artist. Women, mostly, are being made to feel uncomfortable while being tattooed. One of the most vulnerable positions anyone can be in, tattoo artists should make their clients feel comfortable and safe during the pro

Eurydice’s Last Words

by Kate Bradley I do not want to return To sit in the stalls, Of an empty black box Strewn with petals Leave the ghost light on, Let it shine like a call home, But I will not come back To turn it off alone. I learn this as we walk Our ever so solemn path Our thudding funeral march, You think we’re going back. As I trace my old steps, I fear of the day When the symphony swells, And I land my gaze On you, yet you will be Enraptured by the sound, If you did twist To turn around, You would not see me. So I am not sorry, I speak out into the empty air And I am not sorry. “Turn Around.” You do, you look You think  I fall But I run on, Arms wide open To fall in love With it all “Perhaps she was the one who said, ‘Turn around.” On the X45 bus, back from the Tyneside Cinema, I wrote a poem entitled “Eurydice’s Final Words”, after having seen “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”.  That poem was terrible, so I wrote a new one, as my response to the beautifully poignant film.  In one scene, Héloïse, an 18

Single Review: ‘Tell Me’ - Jay Moussa-Mann

by Ilana Hawdon The feeling of pure betrayal and heartbreak is perfectly captured in Jay Moussa-Mann’s latest single, ‘Tell Me’. Jay Moussa-Mann is the folk dream we have been waiting for. A favourite on BBC Introducing, Radio 6 and BBC Radio Tees, Jay ’s sound is easy on the ears but delightfully addictive. With a background in writing and film, she began her solo musical venture when she released her debut album, ‘Little Deaths’ in late-2019, and since then, Moussa-Mann has defined herself as an artist with unbelievable range and promise.    ‘Tell Me’ is completely timeless; with notes of Carole King and Joni Mitchell, Moussa-Mann creates a folk-inspired track which is simultaneously heart wrenching and strangely empowering. Beginning as a simple guitar tune, ‘Tell Me’ builds with layers of luscious strings and twinkling piano, tied together with Jay ’s vocal line which is equal parts melancholic and divine. The song feels unwaveringly intimate; the lyrics ask, ‘what was I worth?’