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I Am Not Pretty
aka: Im Not Pretty

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You're looking at the one person who thinks so.

Tris: But I'm not pretty.
Tobias: No, you're not and I would only go to your funeral if there was cake.
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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, for instance, has said in the past that she grew up feeling like she could never be beautiful because she wasn't blonde.)

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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.

Subtrope of Appearance Angst. Compare 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.

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May occasionally be deliberately invoked as a form of Self-Deprecation or Compliment Fishing. But it can often be Truth in Television, if the girl in question has a poor self-image and/or unrealistic ideas of what constitutes beauty.


Examples:

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    Anime & 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's Book of Friends 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.
    Kitamoto and Yushimura: Liar!
    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 for word when Naruto finally meets her, even if she's, well, dead. She even apologizes to Naruto for giving him her face.
    • Naruto is implied to feel this way about himself as well, as he compares himself to Sasuke who all his fangirls are in awe of for his looks and cool bad boy persona. He also can't fathom why someone as pretty and nice as Hinata would fall for someone like him. It's her love and the love he earned from those in his village that gives him the confidence to think more positively of himself and describes himself and Sasuke as handsome to Sarada who is Sasuke's daughter.
  • 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 Boys over Flowers gets extensive plastic surgery just because other children, with special 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 especially her mom (who takes special offense to Mako's self-deprecation because Mako partially gets her look from her), 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 (to be fair, Mako's mom didn't notice she had arrived).
  • Kiki's Delivery Service has Kiki explicitly say this when Ursula the artist asks to do her portrait, even asking why Ursula is bothering with it. Ursula responds with a laugh and firmly explains that Kiki is very pretty and she will not take no for an answer.
  • Princess Jellyfish: Tsukimi believes this of herself though Kuranosuke tries to show her that's not true.
  • So, I Can't Play H!: Mina's shy and believes she's plain, especially compared to other girls like Lisara. So when Quele tries entering Mina in a swimsuit contest to bolster her confidence, Mina declines the invitation because she believed she didn't stand a chance.
  • In My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! Katarina recognizes that her features are above average, but since she's comparing herself to her even prettier friends she concludes that she isn't attractive at all. More importantly to her self image, though, is that she has upward tilting blue eyes that she thinks make her look like a villain, but everyone else thinks they just make her look a bit intense at worst.
  • My Love Story!!: Yamato doesn't see herself as necessarily ugly, but she does reveal that she's very self-conscious that her short stature and small breasts make her look like a little kid next to the massive Takeo.
  • Surprisingly enough, Minako Aino from Sailor Moon went through this phase: Codename: Sailor V shows that, before meeting Artemis, she was wondering if she could ever be beautiful enough to get the attention of the boy she was crushing on, and Artemis immediately tried to use this to get her to become Sailor V.
  • Magika Swordsman And Summoner: Koyuki Hiakari thinks that she is ugly because her whole life, she was bullied and called a monster for being an elf. Her love interest Kazuki Hayashizaki constantly assures her that she is beautiful, but it takes a while for her to believe him.
  • Averted and defied by Nobu in Ooku: she knows she's rather plain looking (and this is backed up by others noting she's plain-looking as well), but she's also not particularly bothered by it because, as she herself prefers a plainer sort of man rather than Bishounen, it stands to reason that there will be a man that likes her plainer looks. This so shocks Shogun Tsunayoshi (who was raised to believe her beauty was the most important thing to her) that she ends up laughing, then awarding Nobu land and the masculine name Yoshimune as a reward for the laugh, setting off a chain of events that eventually led to Yoshimune becoming shogun herself.
  • Justified in Re:Zero. Emilia is a very beautiful young woman, but she happens to be an Identical Stranger of the witch Satella who nearly destroyed the world. Therefore, almost everyone who meets her acts like if she's the living portrait of the devil because of her physical features. Emilia can't understand why Subaru would find her attractive and often takes his compliments of her beauty as him joking around.
  • Peter Grill and the Philosopher's Time: Piglette Pancetta is an orc who looks very beautiful by human standards, but since orcs think Humans Are Ugly, they repeatedly bullied her and called her ugly until she believed it. When she is ordered to seduce Peter Grill but he resists, she starts crying that she is too ugly. Peter quickly assures her that she is beautiful and he only resisted because he has a fiance. This leads to her falling in love with him.

    Comic Books 
  • 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. Over the course of the series, she improves slowly, as does Spooky.
  • 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).

    Fan Works 
  • 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 Worm and God Of War crossover My Great Grandpa Kratos has Taylor tell her great grandfather that she isn't that good looking, especially compared to Emma. For reference, the image the author used to show what Taylor looked like was one of a young Wonder Woman.
  • 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.
  • After years of scrutiny by her emotionally abusive father, Weiss in May I Have This Dance? is insecure in her looks. Her large facial scar also doesn't help her poor opinion on herself. Her girlfriend Pyrrha certainly doesn't believe that Weiss' unattractive.
  • In the Mob Psycho 100 fanfic Everyone Loves Mob Mob(gender swapped) is convinced that she's plain and boring looking despite multiple characters telling her otherwise.
  • In The Demon Who Lived, Hermione uses an aging potion to temporarily age herself to her twenties and sees herself as a "Plain Jane" despite her mother insisting she's gorgeous. In her defense, Hermione's the reincarnation of Kallen Stadtfeld and remembers a world where someone with her looks would be considered average.
  • In TheNamelessDoll's video Anywhere But Here, Anastasia falls for the Pretty Boy Chick Magnet Jim but feels she isn't pretty enough for him. She changes her image for him but Jim is turned off by her new self. It turns out that Jim has been in love with Anastasia the entire time. Anastasia returns to her original style at the end of the video.
  • In The Green Arrow Chronicles, Laurel at one point says she's "not the prettiest of girls", believing herself to be less attractive than her sister Sara, as well as some of the other women Oliver's dated. Oliver immediately reassures her that's not true. This belief is indicated to come from poor self esteem, possibly caused by Oliver's constant infidelity and her parents favoring Sara over her.

    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, which is not particularly helped that her mother raised her to believe she was plain and she needed to become educated and intellectual to compensate. Later she gets the makeover which reveals her natural beauty.
  • Subverted in Shallow Hal, when Hal (Jack Black) doesn't understand why Rosemary is always deprecating her own looks, despite looking like Gwyneth Paltrow. He assumes she's doing this, then comes to believe that she has poor self-esteem because of her upbringing. In fact, he's been hypnotized into seeing her as thin, and she really weighs 300 lbs.
  • Samantha Baker in Sixteen Candles describes herself as "utterly forgettable" and bemoans her small breasts. She is played by a young Molly Ringwald who is later described favorably as having "smallish tits, decent voice, she drives me crazy" and is pursued by two guys one of whom is the Big Man on Campus.
  • 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 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."
  • The Spectacular Now has the shy Aimee Finicky reacting with shock when Sutter says two guys were checking her out at a party. She says "guys don't look at me like that". Fans of the gorgeous Shailene Woodleynote  heartily disagree (as does Sutter).
  • 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.
  • Lucy in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader envies her older sister Susan's beauty and nearly casts a spell to become her. After having a vision where she had become Susan (and Lucy therefore no longer existed), Aslan gently scolds her for her vanity.
  • This appears to be part of Jack the Ripper's motivation in The Butchers. After revealing her true appearance as a beautiful woman to Nicole, the Ripper asks Nicole if she thinks she is beautiful. Nicole assures her that she is and offers to prove it to her. This ends badly for her.
  • Pollyanna (1960) has a sequence where Mrs Snow snaps at Pollyanna for calling her pretty.
    "Now don't you try to butter me up. I'm not at all pretty."

    Literature 
  • 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, comparing herself to another child who is fair-skinned and golden haired. There is some Values Dissonance at play here — since Sara doesn't match the Victorian standards of beauty. The narration, however, states that she is definitely prettier than she thinks.
  • 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. She also suffers from a dash of Wrong Genre Savvy: 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: she has very frizzy red hair, clear brackets for braces, eyeglasses and a conservative wardrobe that her parents approve of (but appropriate for most preteen girls her age). It's often commented by other babysitters that at best, she is cute, at worst "she will grow into her looks".
    • To a lesser extent, the tomboyish and flat-chested Kristy comments that she "is not as pretty as Mary Anne", her more feminine and mature childhood friend who has Girl Next Door charms, or even as gorgeous as friends Claudia and Stacey.
  • Bella of Twilight complains constantly about not being pretty, but everybody swoons over her. She's an outright Dude Magnet but doesn't see herself as attractive. When Edward brings this up during one of her self-deprecating moments, she gets embarrassed. However Bella had just moved from Arizona where the beautiful girls were blonde, tan, and fit while Bella, pale, dark haired and clumsy didn't fit in. In the sun starved Forks Bella finally is among those who appreciate her beauty but her belief in her plainness is already embedded. She only starts believing she's beautiful after she's turned since she becomes a lot more beautiful but she doesn't look so different.
  • 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 misled and would eventually be disappointed, or that he had very low standards.” But 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 in Jane Eyre, Jane believes Mr. Rochester isn't interested in a homely woman like her, and is instead pursuing Blanche Ingram, a beautiful and classy dame. Jane most likely is not drop-dead gorgeous, but the text implies she is actually prettier than she gives herself credit for being.
  • 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; Nobby only asked her out because he was so used to rejection he asked expecting her to turn him down.
  • 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.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Arya Stark genuinely believes herself to be ugly, and is confused when people say she is pretty — she's stated to be the spitting image of her Aunt Lyanna Stark, who was renowned for her "wild, Northern beauty" with the Stark look and had men literally starting wars for her hand. So chances are Arya is a lot more attractive than she believes. It's also worth mentioning that Arya is not in her teens yet and and the phrase "She grew into her looks" (implying that puberty was very kind) is a phrase that gets bandied about a lot when discussing Lyanna's 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 doesn't dare 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) notes:
    "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 Biel, discouraged vanity.
  • The title character of Anya Seton's Katherine gives up all hope of being a beauty because her hair is reddish instead of blonde 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-esteem (born of her past as a prostitute) and the obsessive attentions of previous would-be suitors. Made more egregious by the fact the book goes out of its way to establish her as the World's Most Beautiful Woman. Especially after passing through the fire at the center of the world renders her physically perfect.
  • 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 she 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.
  • Jo March of Little Women refers to herself as "ugly and awkward", as she's more of a tomboy than her ladylike sisters. It doesn't stop her from attracting her childhood friend Laurie, and later Professor Bhaer. It is said that her hair is her best feature, though the "ugly and awkward" line comes after it has grown back from when she sold it.
  • Hermione of Harry Potter refers to herself being ugly once or twice, to which Harry responds that he doesn't think she's ugly. While she's not exactly concerned with appearances, she's notably pretty enough to attract the likes of Viktor Krum, Cormac McLaggen, and eventually Ron himself. The Yule Ball and Bill Weasley's wedding show that She Cleans Up Nicely.
  • Mercy Thompson feels this way as she constantly reminds the reader that she is not beautiful in the books. But it’s very clear this is not the case as several of the male characters have been attracted to her and Mercy has been a subject to Male Gaze, usually when she must strip to shift to her coyote form. In the fifth book, Silver Bourne, Mercy was being filmed by a television crew because they considered her the pack’s eye candy, much to Mercy’s surprise. In Adam’s POV from a removed chapter of Night Broken, Mercy looked like a pagan goddess even in a hospital gown.
  • Mildmay Foxe from Doctrine of Labyrinths is a male example. He has a scar that paralyses half his face, and was repeatedly called ugly (and sexually abused) by his guardian as a kid, leaving him with terrible self-esteem. He's so sure he's The Grotesque that he's baffled (or just oblivious) when people flirt with him, and even when someone admits they have a crush on him he tries to put it down to something other than him being attractive (e.g. he's sure Ginevra only wants him for his bad boy rep, and that Corbie is just settling for him because she can't have Felix). Judging by the sheer number of characters who lust after him throughout the story, however, it's safe to assume he's unconventionally sexy at the very least, if not downright gorgeous.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The A-Team episode "Bounty", Murdock takes refuge with a female veterinarian named Kelly Stevens while escaping from a group of bounty hunters, and begins to fall in love with her. When Murdock says Kelly is a "pretty girl" and must have a boyfriend, she quickly dismisses it, saying she's never considered herself attractive. (Kelly is at worst the "girl next door" type.) Murdock then picks up a mirror to show her.
  • Willow of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the first couple of seasons. She pines for Xander, hoping he would see her as more than a friend. At one party where she's dressed modestly as an eskimo, she laments Xander's more attractive date. Little does she know, her future boyfriend Oz is watching her from the stage and is immediately taken with her.
  • Dollhouse:
    • 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.
    • Mellie believes herself to be unattractive, when she's Hollywood Pudgy at worst. She's actually a Doll too, meaning she was chosen because her employers find her attractive.
  • Although he's very egotistical about his intelligence and diagnostic abilities, Gregory House has inexplicably described himself as "not great-looking". Feelings shared by Hugh Laurie, who got really embarrassed by the amount of times he was shirtless, and thinks House's sex symbol status is just because "damaged genius" and has nothing to do with him.
  • Never Have I Ever:
    • Kamala (as played by the gorgeous Richa Moorjani)lampshades this about herself, right before a man bikes past her and, stunned by her beauty, crashes. If anything she is Obliviously Beautiful and wants a man who appreciates her intellect and career ambition as much as her traditionally feminine traits.
    • If anything, her younger cousin (and Hollywood Nerd) protagonist Devi can feel vulnerable to this, especially when her rival refers to her as an "unfuckable nerd" when they are engaging in Snark-to-Snark Combat which is ridiculous given that Devi looks as good as her portrayer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan.
  • An early The Twilight Zone (1959) 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 Pamela 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.
  • Mad Men: Peggy Olson feels this way, especially in "The Suitcase"; notable that she is played by the Hollywood Homely and cute Elisabeth Moss.
    Most men on the street don't exactly stop to look at me.
  • 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.
  • Total Divas reveals that Eva Marie feels this way about herself. She's taken to do an exercise where she describes herself to an artist, who sketches a picture based on her description. Someone else then describes her, and a second picture is sketched. The first picture — how Eva sees herself — is notably heavier and less attractive than the second.
  • Marcia from The Brady Bunch declares this when she has to wear braces despite the fact she is a pretty blonde with a slim build and bright blue eyes.
    Marcia: (sobbing) I'm ugly! Ugly! Ugly!
  • The Bones episode "The Woman at the Airport" featured a victim who had undergone extensive plastic surgery because she was never satisfied with her appearance, main protagonist Doctor Temperance Brennan criticising the society that forced this woman to have such a flawed image of herself; this makes it hard for the characters to identify the victim as the surgery throws off most of the markers they are used to looking for when analysing the skull, but when they eventually find a picture of their victim pre-surgery, Brennan is sad to see that the victim was beautiful before she started 'torturing' herself.
  • Kat Hernandez doesn't feel like she's especially as stunning as her friends due to her weight in Euphoria (despite being portrayed by the gorgeous and voluptuous Barbie Ferriera). She mostly gets over this in Season One when she becomes a cam girl and starts dressing herself as a dominatrix.
    • On a smaller note, Lexi Howard, tends to feel this way as she is overshadowed by her blonde and buxom older sister Cassie and everyone from their family to their friends pay attention to Cassie. Lexi Howard is played by the just as gorgeous Maude Apatow.
  • The Love Boat: Julie's old friend Karen is a former model who has a facial scar because of a car accident. After the accident, her career as a model ended and her boyfriend left her. Although Gopher and Doc think she's gorgeous, she sees herself as grotesque and suspects them of pretending to be attracted to her out of pity.

    Music 
  • 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.
  • The unnamed girl in One Direction's song "What Makes You Beautiful," has a hair-flip, a glance towards the ground but still doesn't think she is beautiful.
    "Everyone else in the room can see it, Everyone else but you"

    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.)
    • Fire Emblem Fates has Nyx, a Lady of Black Magic who due to a curse, is literally Not Allowed to Grow Up. She has severe issues regarding her "child-like" body and believes herself not to be pretty at all.
    • Fire Emblem Warriors has a support with Lissa telling Cordelia how beautiful she is, Cordelia doesn't agree at all. A cut support featuring Camilla and Cordelia has the latter again expressing confusion. Unlike the previous example, it's a bit understandable in this case because Camilla is very curvy and Cordelia is... not.
  • Mass Effect: Garrus occasionally invokes this for laughs during his romance with Fem!Shepard by acknowledging that he is already far removed from human standards of attractiveness (they joke about him having "always been ugly" literally several hours after he's shot in the face). After you start his romance path, he seems to be more than a little self-conscious about the extremely conspicuous facial scars from the shooting, even admitting when his romance path is started that he didn't think Fem!Shepard would be attracted to someone with scars.
  • Kuro of Ensemble Stars! believes that he has an ugly face that others would only find intimidating, and is continually surprised that he genuinely does have fans who not only appreciate his singing and dancing but find him good-looking as well.
  • Kingdom Hearts III: In the earlier games, Sora was cute in a boyish way but as he got older he became an ultra-pretty Bishōnen along with all the other pretty boys in the series. There are moments however such as in the video game store at Galaxy Toys, where Sora sees Yozora (the character Rex thinks he's a toy of) for the first time and says, "Well, I never looked this good." He also admits in earlier games to be jealous of Riku which is implied to be because he likes Kairi and thinks Kairi prefers Riku for his cool bad boy persona and good looks.
  • In Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns, one of Ford's later love events has him ask why the farmer is so interested in him. Choosing his looks annoys him because he not only considers himself not handsome, but it also tells him she's more interested in his appearance than personality.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 

    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.
  • The woman in this Not Always Right story is worried about the lingering baby fat of a recent pregnancy, and tries to pick the most shapeless, boring black dresses she can find to hide her figure at an upcoming party, over the objections of both her husband and the sales clerk.
  • Discussed in Actors' Life's "Am I Good Looking Enough?" which tells actors to stop comparing themselves to other people's looks. Bobby talks about feeling this way when appearing in a music video with a much better looking actor, and responding with a Flat "What" when said actor asked if he looked okay. And for his Short Film Aaron, the brother characters were Retconned into being half-brothers because he worried he wasn't good looking enough to be related to Thomas Fitzgerald.

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Drama in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series called "Mean Seasons". Batman and Batgirl have managed to corner a masked criminal named Calendar Girl who was attacking young models and other fashion figures. After doing some digging, Calendar Girl is revealed to be Page Monroe an ex-model and actress who was forced out of the industry for being "too old". Her former agent tells the Bat-duo that Page desperately tried to maintain her youthful appearance, but she supposedly disappeared off the radar after having some botched plastic surgery. The police unmask her and she has a breakdown due to her old, deformed face being revealed to the world...even though it's largely unchanged from her modelling days.
    Batgirl:: She's beautiful.
    Batman: She can't see that anymore. All she sees are the flaws.
  • Beetlejuice: At the start of the episode "Beauty And The Beetle," a series of beauty cosmetics TV commercials with Stepford-smiling models gets Lydia wondering if she's ugly. Beetlejuice assures her that she isn't even pretty ugly.
  • Hey Arnold!: Helga describes herself as not being the prettiest compared to other girls. She is drawn in a odd comedic style at first. Her worrying over her looks is partially what stops her from confessing her feelings to her crush Arnold. However, when she gets a proper makeover she looks gorgeous.

    Real Life 
  • Apparently the most beautiful and talented women of the Golden Age of Hollywood felt this way.
    • Lauren Bacall was Ms. Fanservice for many of her roles, courtesy of her husky voice, and is remembered as one of the greatest beauties of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Bacall, on the other hand, didn't understand why people found her attractive, since she considered herself to be plain-looking, too tall and with too large feet.
    • Grace Kelly had a few self-esteem issues due to her physical appearance, thanks to her family thinking she was the plain one among her sisters.
    • Bette Davis saw herself as this, as did many of her contemporaries, as she was often compared to her fellow actresses. She ended up making an illustrous career for herself as a character actress, which is already pretty impressive considering the standards set for actresses back then and ended up being the second most iconic actress of the twentieth century according to the American Film Institute, right behind Katharine Hepburn. Nowadays, try to find someone who'll claim Bette Davis isn't beautiful. In a 1988 interview, she even said that she forged a career for herself "without the benefit of beauty".
    • 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". Even so, she was usually cast as the Hollywood Homely girl who needed a makeover in a lot of her movies. This is partly because she was quite skinny due to a bad metabolism note  and in a time when curviness was seen as more attractive, and she wasn't as uptight as some other stars were about her costumes hiding her body flaws. These days she's thought of as one of the most beautiful actresses ever.
    • Maureen O'Hara (the Trope Codifier for Heroes Want Redheads) ran into this problem when she was a teenager, going to a school where there were a pair of teachers who compared her unfavorably to her much more beautiful sister Peggy, she really didn't get a glimpse of how beautiful she was until she saw herself on the screen. And after she arrived in Hollywood, she ran into the opposite problem regarding her film roles.
  • 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. There's a reason she was the former image for Unkempt Beauty.
  • Cate Blanchett has more than once referred to herself as being 'not particularly attractive' in interviews, despite the fact that she has often appeared in 'Most Beautiful' lists in magazines and online publications, has an enormous army of fans (particularly lesbians) who constantly call her the most gorgeous woman in the world and she even played Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings films of all people. note 
  • Scarlett Johansson once described her face as "stuck on there and there's nothing I can do about it." And there have been several roles where she's been turned down because the director thought she was too pretty.
  • Amy Adams has described herself as having a "plain" face. Let the record show that a live-action Disney Princess believes this about herself. She jokes that fans are very "disenchanted" when they see her out of costume and make-up, claiming she has to pretend that she's in disguise.
  • 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, so 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 you, and they would prefer that you 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.
  • Damon Albarn once said in an interview he doesn't get why fans think he's attractive because he thinks he's "hideous." In contrast, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Blur music video where the comment section isn't totally flooded with people gushing about how handsome he is.
  • 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.
  • General Thiébault repeatedly insists in his Mémoires that he lost any attractiveness he might have had after he turned thirty — and nearly died of a lung infection that left him changed for the worst. One particularly embarrassing incident involved Madame de Staël mishearing his name and "indulgently" referring to him as "the handsome general" note , "which was patently untrue, especially with that superlative."
  • One of Amy Schumer's jokes was that Jennifer Lawrence was what she herself would look like if she was hot. Jennifer's response? "I am not hot enough and you are not ugly enough for that joke to work."
  • Shailene Woodley has admitted to struggling with body image and personal appearance, which parallels her character Aimee in The Spectacular Now.
  • Women, including those who are not actresses or models, tend to be hypercritical of their looks. Also to admire types of beauty exactly opposite their own type: curvy little blondes with blue eyes want to be tall, slender, raven-haired beauties; Statuesque Stunner ladies wanting to be petite, raven-haired beauties wish they were cute freckled redheads; curly-haired women want straight hair; straight-haired women want curls, etc. Not helping is that the standards of beauty are constantly changing such as sex icon Marilyn Monroe technically being considered fat if measured by present standards rather than the ones of her heyday. So a girl might go from "oh god; you're gorgeous!" to "ugh; totally hideous!" quicker than she herself can make up her mind.
  • A sad Truth in Television. A research project that had adults observing kids at various schools discovered that in just about every case they witnessed, children being told "You're ugly!" or similar were most certainly not, but due to the bullying eventually believed that they were.
  • In the language of Roses, a dark red rose often meant that the receiver was an "unconscious beauty", unaware of their own attractiveness.
  • Transgender people are very prone to this. In fact, it can commonly be worse for a transgender person if they're considered attractive by the standards of the wrong gender.
  • Christina Hendricks of all people has confessed to this feeling this trope especially as a teenager, most of this was a result of being a Perky Goth in a small Southern town where the Southern Belle look was preferred by her peers and her Mother. This did help her develop a thick skin for a job where she can be judged for her looks, especially for not fitting Hollywood Thin standards, and feel pretty confident about herself.
    If I could go back and tell my 14-year-old self anything it would be, "Don’t worry. You’re going to be doing exactly what you want to be doing and those people who are assholes now are still going to be assholes in 20 years. So let it go!"
  • Eva Longoria, the drop dead gorgeous former Miss Corpus Christi and famous star, was called "la prieta fea" (the ugly little dark one in Spanish) as a little girl in contrast to her blonde and blue eyed sisters which can be attributed to colorism in Latino culture favoring people who look closer to European beauty.
  • In general it is common for gorgeous people in communities of color to be told that they are ugly due to not fitting Eurocentric beauty standards. You can find countless stories and even see it for yourself of people who are obviously generally attractive being told they aren't due to being dark skinned, having a wide nose etc.
  • In a rather disturbing example there are a fair amount of men online (particularly in the so called "incel" community) who think they are too ugly to ever get a girlfriend despite in reality being attractive (or at least not ugly). Why this whole phenomenon has become so common recently is unknown.
  • Sadie Frost in her autobiography talks about feeling so out of place in Hollywood in the early 90s, when she was making Bram Stoker's Dracula. Despite being hand-picked for the part of Lucy Westenra - who is meant to be Mina's more beautiful and attractive friend - she felt she was unsuited for such a role (especially since she'd given birth not too long ago).
    "I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd betrayed Francis [Ford Coppola] and was just shy Sadie, the most unattractive girl in the world."
  • Kristen Bell admits to feeling insecure in her early days - that she wasn't pretty enough to play the female lead but then not Hollywood Homely enough to play the Cloud Cuckoo Lander alternative.
  • Jameela Jamil, Tahani of The Good Place, is very vocal about her history with body dysmorphia and eating disorders. In an interview, she explained that 1990s Britain's standard of beauty was the Kate Moss waif look with Meg Ryan's slim lips and the climate was very racist, not a great place for a Pakistani-British girl who had larger features and was developing a curvaceous figure. These days she practices and promotes body neutrality and calls out her celeb peers for promoting dieting products that are very harmful to teenagers.

Alternative Title(s): Blind To Her Beauty, Im Not Pretty, Blind To Her Own Beauty

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