I Am Not Pretty
aka: Im Not Pretty
Never before have so many eyes rolled in unison.
: Let me ask you, Lizzie — are you pretty? Lizzie
: No — I'm plain! Starbuck
: There! You see? — you don't know you're a woman! Lizzie
: I am a woman! A plain one! Starbuck
: There's no such thing as a plain woman! Every real woman is pretty! They're all pretty in a different way — but they're all pretty!
When a girl (or, in some cases, a guy), regardless of her actual attractiveness, believes herself to be unattractive. Many such girls are
lacking in conventional attractiveness, but it's rare for them to be ugly. Often the complaint of a girl who believes herself to be 'plain' or 'boring' compared to model-level-gorgeous
believe that she's simply not attractive at all
for whatever reason.
An Amazonian Beauty
may believe herself to be unattractive because she's suffered from No Guy Wants an Amazon
, and she doesn't realize that she's hot. On a similar note, a Bokukko
may believe that she's too masculine because she's always been One of the Boys
A girl who is above the so-called 'ideal weight' may believe herself to be fat and unattractive because of it, even if she is a Big Beautiful Woman
or simple Hollywood Pudgy
may believe that The Glasses Gotta Go
, even if they are her true charm
, or may believe that even without her glasses, she's plain and/or ugly.
A Wrench Wench
may believe that wearing coveralls and being covered in grease all the time means she's got no feminine appeal even though many guys (and girls) are really into that kind of thing
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.
The Trope Namer
is Thelma Possum from Nip And Tuck
, a webcomic by RH Junior. It takes a huge effort on the part of her beau and friends to convince her that she's beautiful and worth knowing.
of Obliviously Beautiful
where an attractive character is simply unaware of their beauty. Related to Hollywood Homely
, where we are informed
that the girl is unattractive or ugly, and everyone in the show seems to believe it, but to us she seems quite pretty. With Suetiful All Along
, the author insists the character isn't pretty at the outset
, then lavishes complimentary descriptions on her the rest of the time. A girl who is fishing for compliments may pretend
to feel this way, but she really doesn't. This 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
- 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.
- 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 the fact is that she weighs 300 lbs., but he's simply been hypnotized into thinking that she looks like Gwyneth Paltrow.
- Samantha Baker in Sixteen Candles describes herself as "utterly forgettable" and bemoans her small breasts.
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.
- Invoked and averted in the Girls episode "One Man's Trash" with Hannah and her fling, Joshua, Josh. He tells her that she's beautiful, she skeptically 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..."
- 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.
- 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.
- Nurse Pamela from Dominic Deegan starts out believing herself to be 'plain and ordinary', but when she lets her hair down, she reveals that she was Beautiful All Along... and quite a Hospital Hottie to boot. Hellooooo Nurse Pam!◊
- Marigold Farmer from Questionable Content believes herself to be fat and ugly. While she does have bad skin and poor hygiene, she's actually considered rather cute, and has a not-terrible figure, being Hollywood Pudgy.
- Liri from The Challenges of Zona believes she is ugly and unattractive, because she is a giantess and has been reviled by humans her whole life. This persists even after she met and fell in love with another giant, Keltan, leading to the two of them having Innocent Cohabitation until Zona, the main character, convinces her otherwise and tells her about sex.
- In MegaTokyo, Sonoda "maybe if I wasn't so ugly and plain" Yuki. At least one boy in her class has had a crush on her for years.
- 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".
- Meganekko 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 would beg to differ.
- Male example: Benedict Cumberbatch, who usually describes his looks in a self-deprecating way.
- And of course, Page Image, Penelope Cruz doesn't think she's beautiful. Proving once and for all: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
- 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.