I Am Not Pretty

Never before have so many eyes rolled in unison.

Tris: But I'm not pretty.
Tobias: No, you're not and I would only go to your funeral if there was cake.

When a girl (or, in some cases, a guy), regardless of their looks, believes herself to be unattractive. Usually, it's because they're lacking in conventional beauty, but it's rare for them to actually be ugly. Tomboys and Girl Next Door types are especially prone to believing this when comparing themselves to other women, who have more feminine qualities. At least, until someone dolls them up, or helps them see that they're perfectly fine as they are.

Amazonian types may feel the same way, because they often think guys aren't into them. As are pettankos, who may feel inferior to other girls' endowments. While for others, it may have to do with being over their 'ideal weight'.

Sometimes she might be a standard beauty, but feels unattractive because she's the wrong kind of beautiful. A girl with Raven Hair, Ivory Skin who's an absolute knockout to anyone with eyes might still feel she's unattractive because she's told the "ideal" is blue-eyed blonde. This one is especially common in the U.S.; the standard of beauty is an ideal that could be considered Northern European (blonde hair, blue eyes, tan complexion,) which leaves a lot of girls in minority groups feeling this way (Cher has said in the past that she grew up feeling like she could never be beautiful because she wasn't blonde.)

This is often the basis behind a Beautiful All Along or She Cleans Up Nicely event; when a character who is seen (rightly or wrongly) as unattractive is gussied up and made the 'Belle of the Ball'. However, the main issue at hand is not how other characters see her, but the fact that she sees herself as unattractive. If the girl can realize her worth and attractiveness without a makeover, so much the better.

Sub-Trope of Obliviously Beautiful where an attractive character is simply unaware of their beauty. Related to Hollywood Homely, where we're either told that the girl is unattractive, or the rest of the cast simply acts as if she is. With Suetiful All Along, the author insists the character isn't pretty at the outset, yet lavishes complimentary descriptions on her the rest of the time.

A girl may deliberately invoke this by pretending to feel this way, in order to fish for compliment. But it can be Truth in Television, if the girl in question has a poor self-image and/or unrealistic ideas of what constitutes beauty.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • In The Wallflower, where Sunako believes she is ugly simply because a boy she liked told her she was. Cue the whole series revolving around her "ugliness", even though she's a bishoujo.
  • Male example: Natsume Takashi from Natsume Yuujinchou has been used to being ostracized or bullied most of his life because people considered him a Creepy Child. Thus, he's a bit surprised to find out that many of the kids at his high school consider him quite attractive
    Natsume: ...Good looks? Nobody's ever said that to me before.
    Natsume: Eh? Are you serious?
  • A conversation in the fifth volume of Durarara!! suggests that Shizuo Heiwajima is entirely oblivious to the fact that he looks like... well, Shizuo Heiwajima. This makes sense, as Shizuo has VERY serious self-loathing issues.
  • Yura of Honey Hunt believes herself to be plain. This isn't helped by how other people tell her that compared to her beautiful and successful mother she's quite plain. However, once she loses the glasses and fixes her hair she can actually be quite good looking.
  • In Naruto, Kushina says this word by word when we finally meet her, even if she's, well, dead. It Makes Sense in Context. She even apologizes to Naruto for giving him her face.
  • In Black Butler, the teenage Angelina believes she's ugly, especially when compared to her big sister.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, Vietnam considers herself to be plain and not photogenic. Taiwan tells her she's a cutie, though.
  • Sakurako Sanjou from Hana Yori Dango gets extensive plastic surgery just because other children, especial importance placed on Tsukasa, called her ugly as a kid. In the Japanese drama, the girl playing her is not at all ugly. At age sixteen, people.
  • A very tragic case is Yuri Tokikago from Mawaru-Penguindrum, who believes herself to be ugly because of her Mad Artist dad's abuse.
  • The Demon Queen in Maoyuu Maou Yuusha is a curvaceous, busty, stunning redhead that believes she's "wasted away" because she has devoted too many decades to her field of expertise (Economical Science).
  • Mako from Wandering Son has very poor self-esteem. Her best friend and expecially her mom get mad at this, saying she's cute. Her mom even screamed that she was way cuter than Nitori, when Nitori was in the same room (Mako's mom didn't notice she had arrived).
  • Kiki's Delivery Service has Kiki explicitly says this when Ursula the artist asks to do her portrait and asks why is she bothering. Ursula responds with a laugh and firmly explains that Kiki is very petty and she will not take no as an answer.


  • The title character from Empowered tries to believe she's beautiful, but rarely manages it, despite being drop-dead gorgeous even by superheroine standards. Sistah Spooky's constant digs do nothing to help.
  • X-23 is quite clearly a very beautiful young woman, whose looks are frequently commented upon (most notably by Miss Sinister, who remarked appreciably about Laura's beauty while trying to steal her body). Laura, however, doesn't see it for herself, which stems from her abusive upbringing aimed to strip her of her humanity, resulting in very poor self-esteem and sense that her life has little value. When Jubilee takes her out clubbing, Laura tries to deny her assertions that she's "hot," and when on a date with the time-displaced teenaged Angel while trying to figure out why Warren is interested in her, of all people, insists that Jean is much prettier than she is, which Warren insists is not true at all (though he acknowledges that she's correct when she then counters that he is prettier than her).


  • Dierdre "Nezumi" Mitako from the InuYasha fanfic Purity 3: Forever is a Wrench Wench who has been One of the Boys for so long that she has a hard time thinking about herself as an attractive woman, even though almost the entirety of the story is about a guy trying to convince her he actually loves her and wants to marry her.
  • The Hunger Games fanfiction Some Semblance of Meaning has heroine Vale Whitaker being surprised at the sight of her reflection after her makeover because she "had never felt even remotely pretty in her entire life.... She didn't have crowds of friends, and boys didn't even seem to realize that she was alive. So surely she couldn't have been even the slightest bit pretty. Surely someone (besides her parents, who were required to think so) would have told her by now if she was." It seems that not everyone agrees with her assessment, however—or at least, Obsidian doesn't.

     Film (Animated)  

  • Fiona of Shrek was cursed to become an ogress and later becomes one permanently after sharing a True Love's Kiss with Shrek. At the end of the first movie she tells Shrek "I don't understand. I'm supposed to be beautiful." Shrek responds with "But you are beautiful." And indeed, she's still pretty for a Cute Monster Girl.
  • Tanya says this of herself in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. Ms. Kitty, (as well as most fans of the movie) begs to differ, and gives her a makeover. At the end of the movie though she gets over it, and washes her makeup off.

     Film (Live Action)  

  • Lizzie in The Rainmaker insists she's plain. Starbuck takes her hair down and convinces her otherwise.
  • Adrian in Rocky.
  • Subverted in Shallow Hal, when Hal (Jack Black) believes that his "slender" love-interest (Gwyneth Paltrow) has been abused into simply thinking she's not beautiful — when in fact he's simply been hypnotized into thinking that she looks like Gwyneth Paltrow and she really weighs 300 lbs.
  • Samantha Baker in Sixteen Candles describes herself as "utterly forgettable" and bemoans her small breasts.
  • Celine in Before Sunrise. Actually, the trailer for Before Midnight and a scene in Before Sunset. In the latter, she asks how she's different, and Jesse responds that she's thinner. She then says she was a "fat French girl." And in the trailer for the former, she describes herself as a "fat-ass, middle-aged mom losing her hair." This is Julie Delpy !
  • The Angry Princess from Thir13en Ghosts is an extreme of this trope.
  • The whole first act of Funny Face involves almost every character expressing disbelief at the idea of Jo (Audrey Hepburn) being attractive enough to be a model, including Jo herself. Her face is 'funny,' you see.
  • In Love in the Afternoon, Ariane (Audrey Hepburn again) describes her appearance saying: "I'm too thin, and my ears stick out, and my teeth are crooked and my neck is much too long."
  • Subverted in Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo where Schumer states that every girl, deep down inside her head, suspects....."I am Gorgeous" and that maybe they have the wrong hairstyle.


  • Sara Crewe in A Little Princess thinks she must not be pretty because she doesn't mesh with the beauty standards of late-nineteenth-century England, being small, skinny, black-haired, tanned, and green-eyed, but the author tells us that she's definitely pretty in her own way.
  • In Howl's Moving Castle, it's more of a matter that Sophie lacked confidence and self-esteem to see herself as pretty and sees herself as plain and doomed to a boring life.
    • And Wrong Genre Saviness: Sophie is the eldest of three sisters, and is the protagonist of a story - she just assumes it's a classic fairy tale instead of modern fantasy.
  • Mallory of The Baby-Sitters Club sees herself as this.
  • Bella of Twilight complains constantly about not being pretty,, but everybody swoons over her.
  • Lee Fiora in Prep; "There were other things a guy could think I was, and he wouldn't be entirely wrong - nice, or loyal, or maybe interesting. Not that I was always any of those thing, but in certain situations, it was conceivable. But to be seen as pretty was to be fundamentally misunderstood. First of all, I wasn't pretty, and on top of that I didn't take care of myself like a pretty girl did; I wasn't even one of the unpretty girls who passes as pretty through effort and association. If a guy believed my value to lie in my looks, it meant either that he'd somehow been mislead and would eventually be disappointed, or that he had very low standards.” Though, Lee is a Shrinking Violet and the depiction of her on the cover is very pretty.
  • Anne Shirley, of Anne of Green Gables. While in the first book she genuinely is as plain as she believes herself to be, as she matures she takes on a kind of attractiveness that's just unconventional for her time period. The fact that she's a Fiery Redhead in a time period where red hair was deemed horribly unattractive does give her some grounds for believing this even as an adult, however untrue it really is. It's implied that sympathetic people are the kind who will find her pretty, while the jerks think her plain.
  • Early on, Jane Eyre believes Mr. Rochester isn't interested in a homely woman like her, and is instead pursuing Blanche Ingram, a beautiful and classy dame.
  • Parodied in Discworld book Thud! . Where the human-despite-all-appearances-to-the-contrary-Nobby Nobbs starts dating a beautiful strip dancer, Tawneee, no one can believe it. Apparently, she thinks herself ugly. Why? Because every other guy assumed that she was out of their league and never approached her, leading her to believe she was unattractive.
  • Friday, the protagonist in the Robert A. Heinlein novel Friday, suffers from this, likely due to her feelings of insecurity as an artificial human. When "Boss" Baldwin informs her that he thinks she is beautiful, she thinks to herself, "Really, Boss, I do own a mirror, y'know."
  • In A Brother's Price, Cira has a prominent scar on her face, and under her clothing she is Covered with Scars. She doesn't find herself attractive, and mentions a lover who had lost interest in her after she acquired those scars. Jerin thinks she would be plain and unremarkable unscarred, but the scars add character and boldness to her appearance.
  • In Carolyn Mackler's "The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things" the protagonist, Virginia,compares herself unfavorably to her thin and dark-haired family and is often shocked/in disbelief whenever someone points out she's an attractive girl.
  • A curious example appears in Kit Williams' well-known puzzle book Masquerade. The Sun is in love with the Moon but daren't speak to her. This is because people always screw their faces up whenever they look at him, which leads him to think he must be very ugly.
  • In an unusual variant young Fawn Bluefield from The Sharing Knife frequently berates herself for her stupidity, to the point where Dag Redwing (who thinks she has a mind like a steel trap, and considers it one of her most attractive features) noted early on:
    "You use that word a lot. Makes me wonder who used to whip you with it."
  • A character in Sidney Sheldon's Master of the Game describes herself as "not pretty but interesting-looking," despite being stunningly beautiful in the eyes of all the other characters.
  • In Story Within a Story featured in the Brazilian book O Fantástico Mistério de Feiurinha, the title character doesn't think of herself as beautiful, due to having been raised to believe she was ugly and the three hags that raised her were the beautiful ones. It's not until her companion goat turns out to be a prince under a spell that she finds out the truth.
  • Laura Ingalls, of the Little House on the Prairie books, despairs over the fact that she's an extremely short brunette, rather than "tall and willowy" (like Nellie Oleson), and blonde (like her sister Mary). In reality, she was quite a pretty girl — just not by the conventional standards of her time. Somewhat Justified, however, because Caroline "Ma" Ingalls, herself a knockout who bore an uncanny resemblance to Jessica Biehl, discouraged vanity.
  • The title character of Anya Seton's Literature/Katherine gives up all hope of being a beauty because her hair is reddish instead of blond and her eyes are gray not blue. Of course everybody else in 14th c. England thinks she's hotter than a blacksmith's forge.
  • Rhapsody from the Symphony of Ages series takes this attitude, due a mix of low self-esteeem (born of her past as a prostitute) and the obsessive attentions of previous would-be suitors.
  • Ayla from Clan of the Cave Bear. She's a Cro-Magnon woman raised by (and against the standards of) Neanderthals, so she was raised thinking she was weird looking. It took years among her own kind for her to come around, and still fell back into this when feeling depressed.
  • Alexandr Kuprin's short story The Blue Star has a protagonist who believes that about her. The twist is; on the one hand, she is right - she is a princess who was born so ugly her father ordered every single mirror in the realm destroyed. On the other hand, it is an extremely isolated land, and her looks are inherited from a foreigner who founded the royal dynasty, so she is World's Most Beautiful Woman by the standards of, for example, France.

     Live Action Television  

  • In Dollhouse with Bennet Halverson concerned that Topher had just tried to taze her with a device that only works on Dolls. She has a hard time believing this because Dolls are beautif... oh.
  • An early Twilight Zone episode has a young lady whose head is swathed in bandages as the plastic surgeon laments that he was unable to do much for her. They remove the bandages to reveal she has a lovely face and is, in fact, quite beautiful. As the doctor and the nurses all gasp with dismay and disgust, the point of view pulls back to reveal they are all horribly disfigured by our standards, with ugly pig-snoutish noses. By their standards, she was the horribly disfigured one. The young girl sees her reflection in a mirror and bursts into tears at seeing herself as so ugly.
    • Subverted in a Saturday Night Live skit when Pamala Anderson cohosted. The scene played out as above until the young girl (played by Ms Anderson) looked at herself in the mirror. She jumped up and exclaimed in delight, "Hey, I'm Hot. I'm the hottest Chick on this planet" and ran from the room.
  • When Bridget of 8 Simple Rules was playing Anne Frank in a school play, one of her lines was "I know I'm not very pretty". She bursts out laughing when she says this in rehearsals since she knows she is indeed stunning.
  • Peggy Olson feels this way, especially in "The Suitcase"
  • In some episodes of 3rd Rock from the Sun, Sally believes herself to be unattractive, despite her being a leggy, big-busted blonde. Similarly, she thinks portly Officer Don is incredibly attractive. This is because the aliens don't understand human beauty standards.
  • In the Girls's episode "One Man's Trash", Hannah talks about her insecurity with her older fling Joshua. He tells her that she's beautiful, she sceptically replies "You really think so?", then he asks if she believes the opposite to which she replies: "I do. It's just not always the feedback that I've been given." In short, she gets that she isn't model-gorgeous but that she is at least decent looking.


  • The waitress in the Harry Chapin song "A Better Place To Be": "I wish that I was beautiful, or you were halfway blind..."
  • Ani Difranco's "Not a Pretty Girl." "God help you if you are an ugly girl/of course, too pretty is also your doom, because everyone harbours a secret hatred/for the prettiest girl in the room."
  • French singer Serge Lama's Superman song is all about not understanding if he became The Casanova despite thinking he is very ugly.

     Video Games 
  • Advanced V.G.: According to her character bio, Satomi is self-conscious about her appearance in comparison to the other waitresses, because her hair is short and unruly. She tried fixing it herself since she couldn't afford a barber and, by the time she could afford one, it only made it worse. Her fans wouldn't have it any. Other. Way.
  • Fire Emblem: Binding Blade has a character named Dorothy. She has brown hair, brown eyes, and wears all brown tomboyish clothes. When Proper Lady Clarine takes it upon herself to make Dorothy an attractive lady, Dorothy says that there's really nothing to work with. (Clarine eventually concludes that the issue isn't Dorothy's clothing or mannerisms, it's this attitude.)

     Visual Novels  

  • Averted in Katawa Shoujo. The original illustration has Hanako reacting this way to a Love Confession; in the finished game, though, this doesn't happen. She's self-conscious about her scars, but she never directly calls herself ugly or unattractive.
  • Saber from Fate/stay night has serious problems comprehending that anyone could be attracted to her and when finally it gets through to her that Shirou is really interested in her she develops a inferiority complex. Somewhat justified by her past in which she was posing as a man (and a king) and so no other man ever made a move on her.

     Web Original  

  • Jadis from the Whateley Universe believes herself to be unattractive. She's plain at worst, but most of her issues come from being in a school full of Exemplars, and while she's been classified as an Exemplar, she hasn't got the looks to go with it.
  • Iriana of Ilivais X is a little in the Uncanny Valley, but she believes that she's an undesirable freak and not even worth being called human. However, every single one of her teammates thinks she's VERY cute, Mille in particular consistently fantasizing about her.
  • MarzGurl seems to think this, in spite of being one Channel Awesome's biggest Dude Magnets.
  • Parodied by The Onion in this short article.
  • Anna Akana recalls in "How to feel pretty" when her attempt to compliment a friend's appearance resulted in the friend stating, "I don't feel pretty", provoking a Flat "What." from Anna.


     Western Animation  

  • Played for Drama in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Batman and Batgirl have managed to corner a masked criminal who was attacking young models. The criminal herself was a model, but was forced out of the industry for being "too ugly." The police unmask her... and she's just as beautiful as the other models she's been targeting.
    Batman: She can't see that anymore. All she sees are the flaws.

     Real Life  

  • Audrey Hepburn thought she wasn't very attractive. Allegedly, she once said: "I never thought I'd land in pictures with a face like mine".
  • Rachel Maddow said at a 2009 "New Yorker" Festival, "I'm not very pretty... I am what I am. I look like a dude. I wear boring jackets. I have a big nose. I have short hair. No one is going to mix me up with a Fox Business anchor." Her legions of fangirls (and fanboys) would beg to differ.
  • Male example: Benedict Cumberbatch, who usually describes his looks in a self-deprecating way.
  • Penélope Cruz doesn't think she's beautiful. Proving once and for all: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Scarlett Johansson once described her face as "stuck on there and there's nothing I can do about it."
  • Amy Adams has described herself as having a "plain" face. Let the record show that a live-action Disney Princess believes this about herself.
  • Nicole Scherzinger went through a bad bout of low self-esteem and eating disorders because of this. She specifically mentioned that she was born in Hawaii but moved to Kentucky, she always felt out of place as a Polynesian girl surrounded by blonde-haired, blue-eyed Southern Belles.
  • This article gives some insight into why women and girls hardly say the opposite.
  • Subverted in this article, proving that when you do say "I Am Pretty", you're basically shocking and pissing off everyone around and would prefer you to name drop the trope instead.
  • Doug Walker apologized for having to show his "mug" every day on the site for two months in "The Last Airbender Vlogs". Big change from the guy who bragged about being a Mr. Fanservice to both genders.
  • Jessica Alba: "My breasts are saggy, I’ve got cellulite, my hips are bigger ," Alba said. "Every actress out there is more beautiful than me".
  • Noel Fielding says he "looks like a troll with a woman's wig on backwards". He won a magazine's Sexiest Man award TWICE.
  • Most Facebook users have that one friend who posts statuses along these lines. Usually they're fishing for compliments.And then again, they may not. Once again, it all depends on the person and their self esteem.
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental disorder in which a person obsesses over their flaws, real or imaginary, and do not believe others who tell them they look fine. They often use make up, heavy clothing and plastic surgery to try and disguise or eliminate those flaws. Some experts have speculated that Michael Jackson may have suffered from it due to the multiple plastic surgeries he had on his face.

Alternative Title(s):

Blind To Her Beauty, Im Not Pretty, Blind To Her Own Beauty