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Bella Hadid says it is okay to be ugly
Photography Denise Truscello, Courtesy of Getty Images

Bella Hadid says it is OK to be ugly

The model says you will not be loved for your beauty ❤️

Bella Hadid just discovered BrainyQuote and has therefore decided to write an extended Instagram caption espousing the importance of self-confidence. “You are beautiful and you are perfect,” she says (nice, thanks!) but “not because of the way that you look” (oh...). Bella continues to discourage people from connecting their self-worth to their appearance, but the post also reads like she is telling 58.3 million of her followers that they are odd-looking. For example: “There is so much more to you than the eyes can see” and “You will be forever loved for not your beauty but your heart”. Statements like these are well-intentioned but the whole thing could be condensed into one sentence: “It is okay to be ugly ❤️”. 

An accompanying list of “non-appearance compliments” include phrases like “you have the best energy” and “I love how you can give me different perspectives”, which sound like the precise kind of mental acrobatics I might undertake when being forced (perhaps at gunpoint) to compliment someone I hate on a profound, cellular level. I would also perish if someone were to say “your confidence inspires me”, which was another suggestion. The earnestness would probably ruin my day but it would also make me doubt the person’s capacity for genuine kindness. When I am being complimented, I like people to state their case with long explanations and a detailed list of evidence. There is nothing wrong with telling people they are hot, either – it’s important to tell your friends that they are beautiful as well as being good listeners. 

One of the strangest things about famous people is that they will never acknowledge (not really, anyway) what it’s like to be considered beautiful: how their appearance opens doors and increases their chances of being socially and professionally successful. And lest I sound like an incel, an understanding that some people are considered more attractive than others is a realisation that usually occurs in a child’s developmental stage. Nobody is immune to the structures of our time and to ignore how beauty benefits some people and not others is to ignore one of the most pervasive hierarchies of our culture. But it’s nice that Bella is encouraging her followers to look within, both in spite of (and despite) her being considered the apogee of physical perfection. Similar to the pursuit of traditional beauty, moral principles are something to be improved and polished rather than being a birthright.