Ugly Betty – Facial Discrimination in its Element

Golden Globe winning American television comedy-drama Ugly Betty follows the life of unglamorous but good-humoured Betty (America Ferrera) and her ‘fabulous’ job at New York City’s ultra-chic magazine Mode. Although not as aesthetically polished as her co-workers, Betty is good-hearted, brave and the centre of the hit show.

So what is it about her that makes her so… Ugly?! She’s sweet, kind and extremely helpful. The personality criteria of an angel. Her lack of self-confidence, fashion sense and social skills together with her physical appearance and the oh-so-noticeable presence of her thick-rimmed glasses and dental braces make her the office joke and land her with the show’s title: Ugly Betty.

America Ferrera, who plays the character of Betty, is in fact both beautiful and glamorous. So what have the make-up artists and costume directors of the show done to make her ugly? Below are two images, one when she’s in character, and one where she is her normal self. Comment on the differences, and your views on the show.

In Character… And in Reality


6 Responses to “Ugly Betty – Facial Discrimination in its Element”

  1. This show disgusted me when I first saw it. I mean HOW degrading is it for women, glasses-wearers, braces-wearers, the list goes on! America Ferrera is indeed beautiful, but the fact that she allowed herself to be exploited as ugly – and literally gave an image of what New York City apparently sees as ugly to world – is ridiculous. I’m sure lots of women bear resemblences to Betty and watching this made them nervous and embarrased.
    Another incidence when the US exposed the world of media and film to facial discrimination was the film She’s All That. Rachael Leigh Cook bears a significant resemblence to one of my very close friends – before the makeover – and I personally think she’s stunning. To have to sit through 90 minutes of watching this so-called unattractive girl have a complete transformation sitting next to someone who could very easily be her twin was so uncomfortable.
    Facial discrimination is so unspoken of. Sadly, I can’t imagine any way of fighting against it, as it is human nature to form opinions based on looks. Very interesting to see how much these opinions affect people’s judgement though.
    The tag-line of She’s All That is – A new comedy that proves there’s more to attraction than meets the eye. How very appropriate. Regards. B.

  2. Your post makes an excellent point, well done

  3. It’s obvious that the purpose of Ugly Betty was to pinpoint that YES facial discrimination (or some call it “lookism”) does occur and YES it is bad and unfair and degrading. But what can we realistically do about it? I for one don’t think it’s possible for me to ever look at someone with a completely unbiased view. If I like the look of them I’m more inclined to want to hear what they’ve got to say. Call me superficial but that’s the way it is. This comedy-drama has done a fantastic job of bringing to light exactly what is inside peoples minds in the given situations. In real life perhaps we aren’t as explicit as they are on screen, but the general direction is correct.

  4. This is what society is all about these days, looks. People discriminate facially because of TV shows such as Ugly Betty. As humorous as it may be, facial discrimination is a hidden truth. People get discriminated by teachers, employers, friends and family although it is never been brought to attention and is kept inside by many.

  5. I agree.

  6. i beleive that the whole purpose of the show is to show how looks do not matter, when trying to move up in the world. betty was able to get a job in mode and also become good friends with the owner, jus by being herslef, and not by he looks. although i agree that facial discrimination exists, i beleive that only those with a one-sdied mind can jsudge a person on the way they look rather than by their personality. i laos beleive that TV has had a bif effetc on facial discrimination, and i beleive that TV is promoting facial discrimination by only showing women that are beautiful rather than all kind of women. the episode where all kinds of women were featured in the fashion show, is what i beleive ugly betty is all about, i beleive that they are trying to get da message across that one should focus on the person itslef, rather than their looks.

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