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Writing Ugliness in Female Characters

In books, it is not too uncommon to find stories about the struggles of male characters with extreme deformities or other unpleasant features such as scarring that cause them conflict towards the outside world. Hugo’s Quasimodo and Leroux’s Phantom frequently come to mind as examples on the literary subject of beauty being found within.

However, it is uncommon to find such stories for a female character even from books that have female authors such as Bronte’s Jane Eyre where the title character is ultimately plain, not hideous. Is this convention of women having at least some physical attractiveness so unavoidable that a female equivalent in extreme ugliness cannot be reached in writing?

  • This is a pretty interesting, I couldn't come up with any ugly female characters off the top of my head while reading this. Hermione in the written series was supposed to have big teeth and frizzy hair, which I guess they tried to stick to in the first movies until Emma Watson got stunning. It's hard to find ugly females in writing... The closest thing I can come up with as using a less attractive female protagonist is Ugly Betty the tv show. Orange is the New Black had an interesting episode about the older Asian woman's backstory that really made me empathize with her struggles as well. I hope any of these examples help :) – Slaidey 8 years ago
  • I have only seen this in antagonists. Generally, if a woman is "ugly" in a film she is seen as evil and it is "the evil/bad" that makes her ugly. The protagonist is beautiful because she is good. This sounds like a good premise but, hat films tend to miss is that they only capture physical beauty. Men can always be good or evil separate from their appearance but for women it is seen as a part of their identity. – brandibusick 8 years ago
  • This is an interesting topic and is definitely connected to the general "types" of people that are typically included in different media. The only example that comes to mind of a female protagonist being described as "ugly" is in Gail Carson Levine's novel "Fairest" (a novel aimed at a child/young teen audience). However, based on memory, it's hard to assess if the character is fully "ugly" or more conscious of her appearance. The story alludes to "Snow White" and definitely addresses concepts relating to beauty, ugliness, and perceptions; it might be a connected story to look into for this topic. – DragonWrite 8 years ago

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