Debbie says:

[using “they” as a nongendered pronoun for an individual]

Someone I know on line but not in real life posted a filtered entry (only available to people they chose to show it to) describing the attendance at a party they went to as “four butt-ugly women” and about twenty men of various degrees of attractiveness. Because I think a lot about “ugliness,” and more so recently because Laurie and I have been posting about it, I asked them what “butt-ugly” meant. They said, “morbidly obese,” and then went on to say that in fact one woman was so thin that she would be attractive only if you liked “the Buchenwald look.”

I said I thought they and I were not on the same page, and further discussion would not be productive. In further comments, someone else expressed pleasure that I asked the question, and a fourth person leaped to the original poster’s “defense,” pointing out (quite correctly) that anyone has a right to be attracted to whatever they are attracted to. I went back to agree with that, and found that the post had been made private to avoid a “tussle” about the issue.

So I’ll react here.

1) Everyone not only has a right to be attracted or not-attracted to whatever suits their fancy, they often don’t have a choice, and almost no one has a short-term, immediate-moment choice. The only thing I have to say about that other than “Follow your instincts” is that it can be wise to pay attention to how personal responses are culturally mediated. When my responses are the ones the dominant culture is working so hard to inculcate, I want to know how much I’m being affected by that culture, think about whether I want to change it, and work to change it if I want to.

2) Consider the following statements:
“Generally, I am most attracted to women within a certain weight range.”
“I’m not attracted to women over or under a certain weight.”
“I’m not attracted to morbidly obese or stick-thin women.”
“Morbidly obese women and stick-thin women are butt-ugly.”

Beyond a doubt, there are people I don’t especially like to look at. I cannot imagine describing a human being as “butt-ugly.”

<br /> ugliness<br /> beauty<br /> insults<br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Body+Impolitic" rel="tag nofollow">Body Impolitic</a><br />

5 thoughts on ““Butt-Ugly”

  1. To me this comes across as an effort to gain status by the speaker. I don’t know if the “they” involved was a Y-chromosome person, or an XX-chromosome person assessing women as objects of desire. But either way, it seems to me the internet version of the male pissing match, where the man wins by declaring his taste for the most socially acceptable females. I’m not saying that the person is not reporting the real state of their “turn-offs” versus “turn-ons” and, of course, brainwashing by the mass media plays a major part. But this is about getting status with the group by explaining how the speaker’s high standards would be compromised by going out with women at the party whom the group deems unattractive.

    Did you ever hear the old psychology truism that when you go to bed with someone, each partner is essentially “bringing along” his/her parents? In this case the whole peer group gets to participate.

    For some reason, the movie Dog Fight comes to mind, where the young soldiers bet on who can bring the ugliest date to a party. A gay male friend said of that movie, “After the first few minutes you lost track of who was supposed to be ugly.” Before I totally hold out my friend as a paragon of non-judgmentalism, I have to remember the moment at one of his parties where, surrounded by thin, gay men I mentioned the bear/chub segment of the gay world and there was a moment of extremely uncomfortable, nervous laughter just to hear those words spoken.

  2. Pingback: vegankid » Big Fat Carnival #3
  3. I agree that what many people find attractive is so influenced by perceived social acceptability that they often don’t even know their own truth. When I was younger, and quite fat, my theory was the oversimplified ‘if a guy liked me he had to be pretty special’. Of course, that wasn’t the case. Sometimes they just liked big boobs and insecure women.
    It did get better as I got older, as I became less insecure, and as some of the men matured, and started to have a ‘choice’, as you put it, about who they genuinely found attractive. And also as the notion of a physical ideal stopped being top priority. Men whose wives had gotten fat… the immature guys only resent it and look for something ‘better’, the mature guys appreciate that love is love, and in bed, flesh is flesh.
    And good call about the gay men. My gods, they are a friend to the fat girl, but are as shallow a community as any when it comes to their own. (Please indulge the generalizations.)

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