Beauty and the beast: what the new trend of ugly tells us about ourselves.

Beauty and the beast: what the new trend of ugly tells us about ourselves.
In a bid for quiet revenge, ‘ugly’ trends have sneaked their way back into our radar, much to the chagrin of dismayed aesthetes. Unsightly, foul and annoying like Balenciaga designs and the return of the fanny pack, it’s an inescapable trend at the moment often bemoaned on social media. Read on for Seenk’s attempt to figure out why it’s thriving.

Are catwalks to blame?

Just a few years ago, crocs were the very definition of bad taste: a near-universal taboo you wouldn’t want to be seen dead in. Yet suddenly, the fashion world decided to give a cool injection to what the sane-minded would consider ugly. The designers redouble their creativity to sublimate the "dad shoes" or hideous total looks worn by the most beautiful women of the moment, an imitation Tati bag on the shoulder.

Of course, fashion is known for its provocations and off-kilter choices. What fascinates us it how this anti-aesthetic cult movement has made it off the catwalks and into collective consciousness, expressing itself far beyond the upper echelons of couture style.

*Louis Vuitton Archlight sneakers. Photographer: Jason Jean Would Brigitte Macron be seen wearing these Louis Vuitton sneakers?

A well-meaning curse

This new-found hankering for all things imperfect interrogates our established views on beauty and what is acceptable in the fashion and design world. Having previously been the Michelin guide to perfect bodies, social media is now seeing more and more users reclaiming and celebrating the more atypical or stereotypically ‘ugly’ parts of their bodies, especially through the hashtag #bodypositive. We’ve seen this in many shapes and forms, from actresses sharing no-makeup snaps to fitness blogger Morgan Mikenas proudly showing her body hair and teenagers embracing their no-filter acne spots..

The latest taboo to be staged to be heard, illness - and if possible mental. In her Netflix documentary, Lady Gaga tells us all about her fibromyalgia. As for Kanye West and Mariah Carey, they appear to be vying for the status of the most bipolar star of the year - "it's ok to be weird".

If seeing your favourite icons bare all doesn’t comfort you enough, you can even film yourself crying and submit it to ‘Webcam Tears’  , a platform inspired by the work of artist Laurel Nakadate. Revel in your Sunday night weepiness and watch others have a sob through their grainy laptop cameras - it’s crying porn at its best.

This on-tap ugliness seeks to disrupt the perfect norm and free us from the loud, critical voices in our heads. It’s a way to mark our individuality—a way to exist just the way we are.

*The other side of acne, as seen by the artist Devito.

Brands embracing authenticity

Is this ugliness always sincere when it says it wants to decomplex us? The ugly makes brands plead authenticity, but it also allows them to not go unnoticed. In a world of ultra-sophisticated aesthetics, we scratch under the varnish to find sediments of the real, of the repugnant, of anything, as long as it is imperfect.

Ax encourages men to assume a big nose and protruding ears in its “Find your magic” campaign. Without fear of contradicting his “Successful living”, Diesel invites us to assume our loser side in his film “Go with the flaw”. So yeah, the actors aren't perfect, but they stay tall, slim, and stylish. In short, very close to the norm - with one detail.

The “pretty ugly” is the cry from the heart of a brand that is sincere and emotionally connected to its targets. We no longer want them to serve us a fantasized reality like a graphic charter or to erase what makes up our identity. We want them to reflect all our diversity: with what we say beautiful, as with what we claim ugly.

If you really interrogate its aloof morals and apparent ease, the ugly trend emerges as extremely demanding. To truly free us from our demons while still maintaining an aura of aspiration, brands must find the optimal meeting point between ugliness and glamour, a complex chiaroscuro in which truth can shine and advertising can triumph.

*Model Lily Mc Menamy embracing her natural beauty.