Britain’s Got Talent contestant Susan Boyle left the audience aghast with her vocal skills right after she walked out to giggling and sarcastic wolf whistles.

Modern society’s cynical view of beauty considers Susan Boyle, 47, as perfectly exempt from Mother Nature’s unwillingness to bless her.

She is small, chubby, with unruly teeth and unkempt grey hair.

The gold lace dress she was wearing shocked our ‘in vogue’ programmed minds and concluded that she is an ‘ugly’ image.

However, she has an astonishingly beautiful voice, though nobody had bothered to listen.

Susan’s forty-seven years taught her to be patient and strengthened her belief that one day she would have the chance to show who she really is.

The striking issue which is raised, however, is the perception that we can be successful and loved only if we look like a Barbie.

From Susan Boyle to Jane Eyre, the ugly ducklings were one of the most popular patterns in literature, films and TV series.

Susan as today's 'Ugly Betty'

'Ugly people's' stories undermine basic cultural assumptions we've been taught to believe in considering the nature and value of beauty.

The standard role of the heroine, whose success depends upon a combination of good looks and pleasant character, forces the audience's attention to hold its breath for the final transformation.

As in the series 'Ugly Betty', women cannot be admired and loved for their brains and character, but only mocked.

Ugly Betty, Susan Boyle's mirror image, cannot be witty and talented in any way, but she has the audience's sympathy because they feel pity for her.

Susan and Betty make us feel lucky because we compare ourselves to them and we are pleased to think that we look much prettier.

Consequently, we eagerly look forward to witness their transformation according to our perceptions of beauty.

The history of beauty motives

However, this is not just a 21st-century misconception.

For centuries, beauty has been identified with goodness, to such an extent that the two have become almost synonymous.

In Biblical times, imperfections were thought to be as punishment for sinfulness and in Greek Sparta the ugly and disabled had to be killed.

Arts, in general, have also imitated this tense and formulated specific motives, which were wrongfully identified as plain examples of beauty.

Accordingly, a hero could sell his soul - as in “The picture of Dorian Grey” - to ensure that he would remain young and beautiful.

Therefore, there’s no question as to why in modern cinema, we are intrigued to see how the character, Andy Sachs, in “Devil wears Prada”(2006) fights to be accepted by changing her looks.

However, what’s brilliant about Susan Boyle is that she didn’t try to change in order to fit into the star system.

She worked very hard and waited for the right day to come.

This is one lesson that should perhaps be heeded and implemented.

Photo by Vasiliki Dermitzi
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Beauty & the beast of image prejudice

by Vasiliki Dermitzi