I got the first email sent from our contact form this morning. Tisha‘s thoughts on ugly sure started off my week on a thoughtful note. So thoughtful I asked her if it would be alright if I shared parts of our exchange with all of you.
Tisha: Thought about your challenge. Looked at the pictures sent in by the people who made “Uglies” and discovered I do not think these creations are ugly and I asked myself “Why don’t I think these things are ugly?” I rolled this around for about 5 minutes and then I realized that UGLY, for me, is in intention – that is to say, if a thing does no harm then it is not ugly to me. I found many of the creatures from this Flickr group adorable.
Kim: Thanks for sharing your perspective on ugly. I hadn’t thought about the benign effect of “ugly” creatures taking away from their ugliness. You’ve brought me to a whole new level of thinking on this. If you were to create an ugly creature yourself, how would you make it ugly?
Tisha: I don’ know if I would want to spend time making such a thing – but it would have to have pins or shards of glass or be covered in a toxic substance, with the intention to cause harm. Do you think there is a difference between UGLY and REPULSIVE? Because, for me, something that is repulsive is hard to look at but does not necessarily mean to cause harm. I might be spinning my wheels here. I so understand that most people think of ugly as you intended in your challenge, it’s just that the more I thought about making something ugly the harder it was to think something up that would be passive, and that’s when I realised UGLY to me is: a high school student who is mean to a classmate, a parent who neglects their child…
I’d always thought of the difference between ugly and repulsive as the difference between something being thoroughly unattractive and something that repels me physically – a repulsive thing evokes a physical response, be it a cringe, a wrinkling of the nose, a turning stomach.
Tisha’s perspective on ugly as being defined by the intention to do harm – where ugly is determined based on behavior – is one I hadn’t considered with respect to this project.
Now that she mentions it, of course I think ugly behaviour is uglier than anything that’s only ugly on the surface – and certainly beautiful people can be hideous.
Having had this perspective brought to your attention, do you think it’ll affect your approach to making an ugly creature for the challenge?