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Fiona McCade: Ugly women deserve a turn in the spotlight

Although beauty has always been in the eye of the beholder, it never fails to surprise me how beholders’ opinions can differ. The fashion industry, for example, is constantly telling me that one supermodel in particular is absolutely exquisite, when, as far as I’m concerned, she’s a dead ringer for ET.

With beauty so difficult to define, it’s probably easier to decide if someone is ugly, so who can blame Glasgow pub manager George Hogg for advertising an Ugliest Woman competition at his hostelry?

Well, somebody did because the police turned up at the Islay Bar in Kelvinside last week, to investigate a complaint of sexism. Person, or persons, unknown had demanded that the contest be stopped and Mr Hogg be prosecuted.

He was forced to explain to the two female officers that the so-called ugly women would in fact be men dressed as women. The £50 prize was meant for the most monstrous-looking, bearded drag act, although there would also be a bottle of vodka for the “bonniest woman dressed as a man”.

The police smiled and left, allowing the competition to go ahead and I’m very glad that it did because I’m struggling with the logic here. Even if actual, genuine, bona fide ugly females had been called for – how is that sexist?

Let’s think this through. Would a straightforward Ugly Man competition be deemed sexist? I doubt it, as it’s the right of ugly men everywhere to decide for themselves if they enter or not. And, in fact, technically, this contest was for men, who had made themselves look as hideous as possible. So…no, then.

Would a Handsome Man competition be deemed sexist? Again, doubtful, as such things happen all the time; the police aren’t called and nobody is prosecuted.

Would a Beautiful Woman competition have been equally sexist? Well, of course, female beauty contests have been derided for years now, but yet they still go on and, ironically, just two days before customers of the Islay Bar voted for their ugliest woman, Miss Glasgow 2012 was crowned.

Beauty queens may be an outdated concept, but apparently they are still acceptable. Nobody complained; there were no prosecutions; so, whoever objected to the contest in the pub was obviously absolutely fine with the glossy cattle parade up the road.

So, the logical deduction must be that even a traditional beauty contest is less sexist than allowing ugly women their moment in the sun – and that’s clearly unfair.

There are contests for fake ugly women who are men, contests for real handsome men, and contests for real beautiful women – so, what is there for real ugly women? Nothing, that’s what. Only they are excluded. Only they are ignored. Far from being sexist, a competition for them is way overdue.

It’s not as though entry would be obligatory. The winner would be self-selecting. If you don’t think you’re ugly enough, don’t enter, but frankly, I’d go a long way – with no make-up and very bad hair – to get me hands on fifty quid.

Since I’ve obviously been cruelly overlooked for the title of Miss Anything, it’d be nice to know I still have a chance to shine.

I’m assuming that whoever complained about the Ugliest Woman pub competition would call themselves a feminist, as do I, so I have a message for this person. Sweetie, I know there’s a lot still to be done, but we have to pick our battles. When we go from “we want equal treatment” to “we want special treatment”, things get out of hand.

Even if you didn’t realise that this was just a bunch of hairy blokes having a laugh; even if you genuinely thought that ugly women were going to be judged on the paucity of their beauty, did you really think that there’s a Glaswegian female alive who wouldn’t happily take the £50, give everyone the finger and demand free drinks all night?

And talking of drinks, I very much hope that the Ugliest Woman contest took place long before closing time, when everyone was good and sober. Because after the beer-goggles kick in, I hear you can’t move for goddesses in Glasgow.

 

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