Created By: SomeGuy on January 2, 2010

True Beauty Is On The Inside

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Come on, we gotta have this one, right? I've just been catching all the pages directly around it this whole time?

One of the most common Aesops out there- we shouldn't judge people based on how they look on the outside but rather how they look on the inside. Looks are a shallow motivator and are almost always wrong.

Admittedly, this trope is most commonly known for how it's skewered unintentionally by the heavy presence of tropes like Hollywood Homely. As a rule, nearly everyone in visual media who purports this trope will either clearly be beautiful themselves or will become beautiful by the end of the movie. So...maybe a good idea to read some books instead and just pretend like they're ugly.

  • Appears in all the Beauty and the Beast adaptations as it is the crucial lynch-pin of the story- beauty must come to understand that just because beast is a hideous cruel monster doesn't mean he's a bad person.
  • Shallow Hal has a character cursed with a very literal example of this trope- he is only capable of seeing a person's "true beauty" which, for most of the movie, seems to be personified by Gwyneth Paltrow.
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • October 25, 2009
    Jennifer Murdley's Toad by Bruce Coville is all about this -- it's about an ugly girl with a nice personality, and at the climax of the story she encounters a witch who offers to turn her "inside out," metaphorically speaking, so that her inner beauty will be on the outside -- but upon thinking about this, Jennifer realizes that this would make her ugly on the inside, which she realizes would be worse. So she stays outwardly ugly (but a good person).
  • October 25, 2009
    Giant Space Chinchilla
    Oddly enough Never Judge a Book By Its Cover is listed under Stock Aesops but not a trope
  • October 26, 2009
    Mentioned in The Decorator short story from Erast Fandorin series: Angelina mentions a time when Fandorin suffered ugly facial burns rescuing a child from a warehouse fire, explaining that a physical beauty is nothing compared to the inner beauty of a person's soul. This is in interesting contrast with the story's villain, who is a maniac obsessed with "the beauty of human entrails".
  • October 30, 2009
    Mentioned in Beauty Equals Goodness

    Evil Is Sexy is related.
  • November 5, 2009
    Instead, people would take pains to tell her that beauty was only skin-deep, as if a man ever fell for an attractive pair of kidneys. (Terry Pratchett, Maskerade)
  • November 5, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    I would've thought the Shallow Hal example is guilty of Unfortunate Implications in that (a) Paltrow is the definition of exterior beauty; and (b) Paltrow's character's rather rotund frame is invariably played for laughs in the movie.
  • November 6, 2009
    • This appears as An Aesop at the beginning of the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. A beautiful enchantress changes her form to look like an old woman and is not allowed to stay the night at the castle by the prince. She punishes him for judging her by her appearance (and not providing hospitality) by turning him into the Beast.
    • This is fairly smug coming from Disney, where in every other film Beauty Is Everything.
  • November 6, 2009
    • Shallow Hal is an interesting hypocrisy, since Tony Robbins' real-life girlfriend is something of a "Perfect Ten;" however from his presentation of himself given in the film, his girlfriend should be a hideous girl with a heart of gold. Clearly, Dr. Tony doesn't follow his own orders. And to Unfortunate Implications, I'd also add that the movie played on the 300-lb. Rosemary as an Acceptable Target.
  • January 2, 2010
    I'd say that 99% of the time when it is used, it is a Broken Aesop. Because, for example, in Beauty And The Beast:

    A.) She was beautiful. You can't tell me that didn't help him decide he liked her. B.) The reward for breaking the curse was that he became handsome.

    Shrek did slightly better in that she decided to become an ogre at the end. Of course, she was a rather cute ogre, which tended to deflate that, especially since he was an ogre and one assumes he finds ogres attractive.
  • January 2, 2010
    This trope was deconstructed in one of the Spellsinger books. One of the characters is despondent that a beautiful woman he loves won't even give him the time of day. When the protagonist gives the, "She should see you for what you are on the inside", the despondent character points out:

    A.) That in Real Life, looks do count. They are part of who you are. It might not be the most important, but they still are something.

    B.) One of the reasons he wants her is for her looks, so it would be a Double Standard if he wanted her to ignore his ugliness.

    This is true of 99% of these types of stories. One of the reasons the "ugly" person wants the beautiful one is for their looks.

    A Discworld story also deconstructs this when Nobby Nobbs, who is so ugly that he has to carry around a paper from the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork stating he his human, complains that women won't date him. Angua points out to him that maybe he should lower his standards, as he shouldn't expect to be able to date the more sought after women.
  • January 5, 2010
    YKTTW Bump. Last call for examples before launch.