The blogosphere thinks I'm ugly...
May 20, 2010 12:49 PM   Subscribe

A few months ago I started getting press and now I'm what you'd call perhaps a "public figure," though a minor one. The problem is that I "read the internet" and come across comments about me being ugly, unattractive, etc. I'm letting them get to me...

All this despite having a boyfriend who calls me pretty and generally being somewhat successful. I guess I was always a little insecure growing up as a "fat kid." As I got older I lost weight and started feeling good about myself, but now I'm feeling dragged down again.

It makes me empathize with all the female writers, actors, and other personalities I've seen called ugly over the years...I don't know how they handle it.

What is the best strategy for not letting this get to me?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (58 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know that this will help you, but it does help me whenever people are being mean, rude, or nasty. I remind myself that no one in the history of the world has ever been universally liked. Lots of (now) widely admired folks like, say, Abraham Lincoln, Marie Curie, Martin Luther Kind, et al, were subject to harsh criticism or slander. If someone says something mean about me I just try to shrug and remind myself that I'm in good company.
posted by blue_bicycle at 12:55 PM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

Stop reading it! You've got to stop reading it. Do whatever you have to to not let that stuff get on your radar.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:56 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

You've seen that old meme picture, right? The one with the obese, bearded, naked man sitting in front of a computer? That's what all the people who are badmouthing you on the Internet look like.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:58 PM on May 20, 2010 [23 favorites]

I have no personal experience with this kind of issue, but perhaps find someone who is famous who you admire and think of as a pinnacle of attractiveness? I can't imagine anyone exists who you could pick that you couldn't find people online tearing them apart. Maybe reading even your most "perfect" of public figures gets this treatment online will help with the perspective (even if you already know this is happening, reading it firsthand will demonstrate more directly).
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:59 PM on May 20, 2010

"For you to insult me, I must first value your opinion." - Unknown

You don't know these people, they aren't your friends, you shouldn't let their opinion of you bother you. If they really knew you they'd like you just like everyone else you are friends with does. If they don't like you, it's not your problem.

And quite honestly, you wouldn't be friends with such people who make such rude and hurtful comments anyway.
posted by NoraCharles at 12:59 PM on May 20, 2010 [11 favorites]

You could consider emailing the MODs here on metafilter. There is literally an entire section of their workplace designed (in part) so people can complain about them. And a fair amount of that is personal/ad hominem attacks. They might have some insight on how to better shrug that shit off.

Know that Anonymous (or quasi anonymous) forums seem to give license to the worst kind of personal attacks. The ragey fuckers who thought they were so smart for writing something cruel on a bulletin board, now have the entire internet to cowardly hurl invective from.

Try to remember that these are small pathetic attacks, that these people would never have the courage to say in person.

They are also not about you at all. these people are trying to get a laugh, or prove something to their invisible internet peers or themselves. They don't know you or likely even care.
posted by French Fry at 1:01 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have read where a lot of celebrities simply refuse to read about anything about themselves online or in magazines, for this exact reason.

Also keep in mind that a lot of those comments are made out of jealousy. Think about the most gorgeous celebrity you can think of - I guarantee you that someone, somewhere, has called them ugly.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:01 PM on May 20, 2010

I know it hurts to read cruel comments, but when push comes to shove, you have a boyfriend who cares about you and you've been successful enough to become a well-known personage.

They are just just strangers calling people names on the internet.

You win.
posted by chatongriffes at 1:01 PM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

--Elanor Roosevelt, who knew exactly what you're going through.
posted by availablelight at 1:03 PM on May 20, 2010 [15 favorites]

What is the best strategy for not letting this get to me?

Stay away from the Internet, or at least the opinion ("blog") part of it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:03 PM on May 20, 2010

I know this sounds like playground logic, but: It's jealousy.

Really. You're doing something, whatever it is, that's cool and worthy of press. The people who are talking about you online are not. And they are way more insecure than you are, so they need to find something, anything about you and use it to make you seem smaller again.

It shouldn't be a surprise that they latch onto your physical appearance because beauty so subjective and easy to harp on. Also, by being even a little bit famous, you are in some crazy part of their mind, in the same sphere as people who are famous for being beautiful. Who gives a shit if some random on the Internet thinks you're not as pretty as Marilyn Munroe.

As for how to cheer yourself up, I recommend googling the string "$BeautifulPersonX is ugly."

You'll be surprised to find how good of company you're in.

Natalie Portman is ugly.

Cindy Crawford is ugly.

Scarlett Johansson is ugly.
posted by 256 at 1:04 PM on May 20, 2010 [8 favorites]

My friend is a singer in an indie rock band, and her band's video got featured on Youtube for a day, briefly exposing her to a much larger internet audience. Despite being an amazing musician and very attractive woman, the majority of the comments were utterly vile, evaluating and criticizing her appearance without any regard for the music. She had to stop reading the comments to keep her sanity and self-esteem intact.

The internet can be a sewer. Anonymous commenters are usually jerks, aside from a few outstanding communities like this one. Please don't give the assholes even a second of your time.
posted by naju at 1:04 PM on May 20, 2010

Diablo Cody's response to her haters. They rip on her work more than her looks, but you still might appreciate her sentiments.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:12 PM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

All of the above about the ridiculous of internet whispering and snarking is right, so I'll go another direction.

This quote helps me: "Nothing worthwhile comes from cool people." It is not directly related to your situation, but the principle applies. To be great in everything that is worthwhile you don't have to be one of the "beautiful people."

If I ever feel less about myself for beauty or wealth, I think of Paris Hilton.

What you do with your life (art) - that is the beauty that counts.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:14 PM on May 20, 2010 [7 favorites]

Another approach is to read it. Read it all. Let it hurt. Let it burn. But keep reading until it doesn't hurt anymore. Just throwing that out there because that is what I would do. For me, avoiding it would make it a slowburn that never ends.
posted by milarepa at 1:15 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

I favorited this question because I know that if I am ever successful enough to be noticed by a large amount of people, this will happen to me too, and I, like you, will freak out.

That said, I'm always shocked by comments about how "ugly" certain celebrities are. And I don't shock easily when it comes to bitchiness and cruelty. But time after time I see women who got where they are at least partly because of their good looks, women I would kill to look like, being called all manner of appearance-related insults, and I'm really surprised. And then I remember that to a lot of people, "attractive" has an extremely narrow definition. And that a lot of people are just haters. There's a good reason so many artists write songs about haters!
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:19 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Never read comments about yourself on the Internet. Even people who are decent human beings in real life can be toxic dicks on the Internet, sometimes inadvertently, sometimes intentionally, and they have no idea what it is like to be the object of mass ridicule. I never read the online comments attached to anything I write. I used to and it drove me fucking bonkers. Editors at the Daily Beast actually wrote to me before my first article ran explicitly stating their policy that writers for the site aren't permitted to respond to commenters because I had a history of fighting with commenters and they didn't want me threatening to kill any of their readers (I would have). So now I never read comments and honestly it's better that way. I'm sure that stuff would still drive me bonkers if I read it, and as much as I would love to tell you how above that stuff I am, it would and I'm not so I stay away completely.

That said, this comes with the territory you wanted to be a part of. Find other public figures working in the same sphere you work in and grouse about it with them, they'll understand and provide you with extra support.
posted by The Straightener at 1:20 PM on May 20, 2010 [6 favorites]

I did what milarepa proposes. I just *couldn't* stop myself from reading - so I read, watched, listened to everything awful people said about me. I sought it out. I went down my usual criticism checklist: Is this true? -> Do I care? -> Is there something I can do about it? If the answer to any of those criteria was "no", then I moved on. But there was a lot that hit home. I worked on some things. Mostly, though, it sucked a lot.

But it did eventually desensitize me to a point where I didn't feel compelled to seek out or even read criticism any more. And when I come across crummy comments now, they sting much less, and I'm more able to reasonably think through them and laugh off most of them as silly.

Good luck!
posted by peachfuzz at 1:25 PM on May 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

For more good company, check out Ruth Reichl's book "Garlic and Sapphires," which is a memoir of her tenure as the NY Times restaurant critic.
posted by desuetude at 1:34 PM on May 20, 2010

Hit post too soon! It's not about her being ugly, but it does address her feelings on personal attacks. And she's a smart, warm, funny writer.
posted by desuetude at 1:35 PM on May 20, 2010

I've been subject to Anonymous' attention a few times on a certain image board and all I can say is that online comments say more about the commenter than the commentee. Responding to them is a fulltime job, but if you must, do so with grace and humor.

For every troll, remember that there are dozens of good people lurking who appreciate your work and look up to you. And if your "celebrity" is anything like mine, you will meet your supporters and they will absolutely brighten your day when you least expect it -- the internet makes the world a very, very small place.
posted by Wossname at 1:36 PM on May 20, 2010

I used to work with a group of mostly guys, and we had a window on a street that got medium pedestrian traffic. They felt free to make judgmental, rude and insulting comments about most women and any men they thought looked gay. None of these men was particularly attractive. I don't really understand why some people feel the need to voice unkind opinions about random strangers, but they do, and they will be uniformly unkind and inaccurate. Break the habit of looking at these comments. Go to more interesting websites, go get a glass of water, turn off the computer and take a walk.

Some people are just haters. I have found a strong correlation between being a hater, and being a not-winner. Not a leader, not an achiever, not particularly talented, not particularly interesting, not particularly compassionate, loving or bringing anything beautiful into the world. They're comparing you to the women in airbrushed porno mags, and the babes in online games. When you come across a vile comment, consider the sources, and discount the value of the comment.
posted by theora55 at 1:38 PM on May 20, 2010 [14 favorites]

I'm pretty sure that for a lot of assholes, it's just the easiest insult to grunt out, a kneejerk response from people who need to belittle any woman who threatens them by...existing, I guess. It's either that insult or the other one, the one that belittles women by reducing them to a penis docking station. It's not anything to do with you, it is everything about the inferiority of the commenter.

None of that makes it better. Perhaps you should imagine them sitting at their dinner tables, making the same comments as their female relatives enter the room? It's a real classy caliber of personality.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:39 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding peachfuzz. Lots of times, people are accusing you of things that are just plain wrong. After a hundred misinformed comments, you can start to feel sorry for all of these wrong people on the internet instead of feeling compelled to right them.
posted by mokudekiru at 1:41 PM on May 20, 2010

There's a reason you've been getting press.

If it isn't because you're absurdly beautiful it must be because you're really talented, or smart, or generous, or brave, or even just lucky. Most people, including those who comment on the internet, are none of these.
posted by ecurtz at 1:41 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh. Also remind yourself that 99.999% of those men (and probably women too) calling you ugly would be thrilled, flattered and shocked if someone as "ugly" as you approached them at a bar. People pop a lot shit, and the ones that pop the most as a rule have the most desparation to hide.
posted by milarepa at 1:48 PM on May 20, 2010

Just recognize it for what it is. Jealousy.

I have read where a lot of celebrities simply refuse to read about anything about themselves online or in magazines, for this exact reason.

Which is bullshit. Celebrities, narcissistic as they are, crave attention, both good and bad. I'm sure a few have the ability to ignore gossip sites, but if you believe most do you're being naive.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 1:51 PM on May 20, 2010

You ever read Youtube comments? Seriously, you can't let this stuff get to you, and you are better off just not reading it.

Half the people are below median intelligence, courtesy, whatever you want to measure. Those people also seem to be well above median "omg-I-gotta-post-this" threshold.
posted by Xoebe at 1:58 PM on May 20, 2010

Madam Solicitor-General, haven't you better things to do with your time than read blogs? ;)

I kid, I kid. Seriously, just don't listen to the internet. It's full of idiots. :D
posted by Mr. Excellent at 2:02 PM on May 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory remains unrefuted.

If you stumble upon fuckwaddery, imagine yourself blowing it away like dandelion fluff. It's there, it's gone, and onwards. Don't even dwell on how sad the fuckwards are.
posted by holgate at 2:06 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

a) those people are trolls. Value their input accordingly

b) when I ran for local office, I was about 5-6 months pregnant during the height of the campaign season. Local media kept referring to me as "obviously pregnant," which totally hurt my feelings because, I don't know, couldn't I be "glowingly pregnant"? "charmingly pregnant"? I felt like "obviously pregnant" should be reserved for when it looks like you're about to go into labor RIGHT THERE. (Also, I was ever so full of hormones.) There was some nastiness along with it. It hurt me. Now I ignore it. If this media attention is an ongoing thing, you'll stop paying attention to the nasty comments before too long; it becomes background noise. There is a period, though, where you have to get used to it and it can be a little upsetting.

Now I'm just trying to make my mother stop reading the comments sections because she always gets upset on my behalf.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:07 PM on May 20, 2010

I realized internet comments were bullshit one day last August. I was in an internet cafe in Antananarivo, Madagascar, when a rather large, bald, and older French man took the computer next to me.

Now, this cafe was crowded. There was a line. It was relatively expensive for the average Malagasy. The internet was extremely slow.

The man logged on to the computer next to me and proceeded to spend the next 45 minutes (at least) leaving rude, derogatory comments on YouTube and French newspapers. I couldn't stop laughing. This random man, in the middle of an awesome, exciting country that was undergoing political strife, where there are just so many things to do in a maze of a city - in a crowded, oddly sweaty (for winter), slow internet cafe for money that could have bought him a very nice dinner - felt his time was best spent leaving atrociously misspelled, idiotic comments on YouTube and newspapers.

Who does that?

Every time I see something dumb on the internet, I pretend it's that French expat, just puttering away Teknet. Go on, little French dude. Do your thing. If this is honestly the best use of your time/life, I am pretty happy to be me and not you.
posted by quadrilaterals at 2:12 PM on May 20, 2010 [72 favorites]

I recently organized a counterprotest that got a lot of local and even a little national media attention. I got quite a bit of negative atttention from commenters, but I made a promise to myself that I just didn't read them. Unfortunately, my friends pointed me to a local police bulletin board where they were just tearing me to shreds - people paid and sworn to protect me were slandering me and my toddler son. I was honestly a little scared, but as I've never been a fan of the constabulary at large, I wasn't surprised.

But honestly... it blew over. These people move on, and I chose to focus on the hundreds of positive comments I got over the negative ones from people who are just incredibly fucking idiotic. Thankfully my friends turned some of the comments into running jokes for a bit "Kpht, you lazy fat cow!" etc.

And I'm very, very thin skinned. I don't like conflict at all, and I'm not usually the protesting type. But it will pass. You will stop caring.
posted by kpht at 2:45 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's very difficult not to let such criticism hurt your feelings, but as everyone else has mentioned, such remarks are usually a result of jealousy. I remember some 25 years ago when I was in high school and a social studies teacher mentioned this (as he described it) typical American reaction when someone is better dressed, more successful, or luckier than us. If someone is wearing an attractive blouse that is particularly flattering, we have a tendency to say something like "Nice shirt, did the CARE package come early this year?" If someone wins a competitive prize we'll say "Congratulations, I guess all that sucking up you did to the judges paid off." Particularly if it's a female who has achieved some sort of recognition or honor, sadly it's not uncommon for even friends (not her closest friends, hopefully) to make remarks like "I saw your picture in the newspaper, congratulations! Too bad you didn't have time to put on some make-up first." Bottom line, eventually you'll realize that the more negative comments you attract means that much more attention your story/career has achieved, and there's no such thing as bad publicity.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:45 PM on May 20, 2010

The problem is that I "read the internet"

Don't do that. Seriously.

You know why celebs like Madonna don't have tvs? This is why. I can't remember what celebrity I heard being interviewed, but I remember her saying that she consciously makes herself look straight ahead in the supermarket line so that she doesn't see any of magazines that might be saying something nasty about her. You need to stop giving these people your time and attention. Of course it's going to bother you, you're only human. You can handle how you react to it sure, but it's always gonna sting a little so just cut them off at the pass refusing to even read it in the first place.
posted by whoaali at 2:51 PM on May 20, 2010

You can't be attractive to everyone! There are some celebrities who are touted as beautiful by many people, but I just don't see it. Yeah, (s)he may be a talented actor, but I'm just not attracted to him/her at all.

I can tell that some people above know who you are, but I don't. I'm going to venture to guess that you're not known for your looks but rather for your ideas or works. The people who comment on your physical appearance aren't bringing anything beneficial to the discussion. If they can only attack you for the way you look, you're doing well.

My last (random) thought is this: Most of the people in the world are AVERAGE looking. That's why it's the average.

Kudos to you for having something worthwhile to share with the world, whatever it is :)
posted by Aleen at 2:52 PM on May 20, 2010

Reading comments like that always reminds me of a line from Fahrenheit 451: "Those who don't build must burn. It's as old as history and juvenile delinquents."

I actually am plain and fat, and have been all my life. These very qualities that would inspire people to make fun of me are part of what shaped my personality and the kinds of things I devote myself to creating. Because you have that experience of considering yourself to be ugly, right now it's just a shortcut for anyone who wants to devalue you, but might it help to think about ways that experience influenced whatever it is you create? Even if you can't quite go so far as to consider it to have been a positive part of your life, thinking of how it contributed to where you are now might help to take out some of the sting when someone tries to use your own feelings to hurt you.
posted by shirobara at 2:56 PM on May 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Once, when I was steeling myself to be the subject of negative publicity of the worst possible kind (don't ask!) I thought it was helpful to remember this:

The only thing people are gossiping about and jeering at is a cartoon-character version of you, not the real you. I know exactly who and what I am. What difference does it make what people say about me when they might as well be making fun of Jessica Rabbit?

I then made a list of the handful of people who's opinion really matters to me, people whom I regret thinking I let them down. I personally made my peace with each of them by phonecall, letter, or email-- and decided that from then on, the rest of the whole wide world could kiss my Irish ass.

Whatever. Remember, you're the one with the life worth talking about, all the envious boring losers are doomed to do what envious boring losers do. Rock your life, OWN IT.

This quote from Epictetus was my mantra:

"Of all existing things some are in our power, and others are not in our power. In our power are thought, impulse, will to get and will to avoid, and, in a word, everything which is our own doing. Things not in our power include the body, property, reputation, office, and, in a word, everything which is not our own doing. Things in our power are by nature free, unhindered, untrammeled; things not in our power are weak, servile, subject to hindrance, dependent on others.

Remember then that if you imagine that what is naturally slavish is free, and what is naturally another’s is your own, you will be hampered, you will mourn, you will be put to confusion, you will blame gods and men; but if you think that only your own belongs to you, and that what is another’s is indeed another’s, no one will ever put compulsion or hindrance on you, you will blame none, you will accuse none, you will do nothing against your will, no one will harm you, you will have no enemy, for no harm can touch you."

Thankfully, I never turned into just another one of Jay Leno's punchlines, but by God, I was ready.
posted by aquafortis at 2:58 PM on May 20, 2010 [6 favorites]

I once berated on my blog about a Norah Jones side project show I went to, and I had diehard fans coming over to tell me in my comments things such as, "i heard on the DL that jerry isnt really that hip after all in fact he is packing a couple of extra pounds."

I mean, that hurt, and in hindsight it's a totally ridiculous comment. I mean, these people didn't know me at all. But at the time it stung. It helped to have my fellow bloggers who did know me back me up. These anonymous people on the web are idiots. I don't know who you are either, but let me tell you this... you are awesome.
posted by yeti at 3:09 PM on May 20, 2010

Do you play video games? That's what this is. Use it. Most of the time, the yellow balls (abusive posters) are coming at you to knock you down, bringing nothing of value - swerve around them. Some of the time there'll be base flattery, white balls that may not bring much of value, they're mostly harmless, keep moving. Very occasionally a white ball comes along with valuable insight - grab - you just scored 10 points. Was it a decent game today? Great. Just remember, like with all games, don't spend too much time playing - you got a life to live.
posted by VikingSword at 3:18 PM on May 20, 2010

This is a big issue in feminist circles, because no matter what a woman does, how smart she is, how irrelevant her appearance is to the conversation at hand, people always comment about her appearance.

You can get the smartiest McSmartypants woman publishing an article that will LITERALLY save the world from destruction, and what will the comments say? Either "she ugly" or "she hot." Nothing about what she said or did - it's all about her appearance.

This is also a keystone item in Joanna Russ' incredible How To Suppress Women's Writing.

So I would take it as not being indicative of your appearance, but of the commenter's inability to engage you on a more meaningful level. If someone's so stupid that all they can bring to the table is "she ugly," then there you have it.
posted by ErikaB at 3:23 PM on May 20, 2010 [29 favorites]

A character in a really sappy novel (If Winter Comes) makes the point that if the butcher's wife called her kids ugly, she knew she shouldn't mind because of course the butcher's wife was just uncouth and didn't know any better, but that really, she DID mind.

My point being that when people are nasty, it is hurtful.

However, it will pass. Focus on what your boyfriend says about you. :)

p.s. ErikaB: I love Russ' book.
posted by bardophile at 3:54 PM on May 20, 2010

I'm not famous, but the number of people who know me online is larger than the number of people who I know, and that asymmetry means that I've been called ugly, stupid, evil, and a whole assortment of other things online over the years. (Including right here on MeFi!)

The key thing to understand is that they're not reacting to you. They are reacting to an idea that happens to share the same name as you. They don't see you as a real person, most likely, and this does get to the core of why they'll be especially misogynistic in their comments. Men very frequently deal with their insecurities by dehumanizing those who make them feel inferior, and "she's ugly" is their first go-to, as Erika noted.

But enough about their motivations — here's what you can do. There is, obviously, the option of just ignoring it and not participating. While I've done that sometimes, the truth is that we often have good reasons for wanting to see what people are saying, either to participate in a conversation, or simply for feedback on our efforts.

So, I think there is one option that hasn't been discussed yet, which is to engage with these folks in a low-key way. Don't try to win an argument, or to make them feel bad, or insult them back. Just show them that there's an actual person on the other end of the conversation, who shares the same name as the person they're insulting, and 99% of the time they'll back down when they see they're not engaging with a faceless brand, but with an actual human. Even better if you can get them to have a discussion using their own real name, instead of a pseudonym or anonymous handle.

The ones that don't start to act more civilized? Well, everyone will be able to see that they're just jerks. And then you win, too.

Congrats on all of your success.
posted by anildash at 4:07 PM on May 20, 2010 [7 favorites]

Two things:

One -- stop reading it. Seriously. Stop seeking out people's criticism. Pay someone to pay attention to your mentions in the press, collect them, weed out the garbage, and notify you of genuinely useful (positive and negative) mentions and trends. That's what PR folks do, get one.

Two -- the world is full of people without empathy, or who only have empathy for people close to them. I worked with a guy who, in the week 9/11 happened, said it was no big deal because it happened all the way over in New York (we're in Los Angeles.) And hey, how many of us feel the same way about the horrible, horrible things happening in other countries? Which is a long way of saying there will always be petty, foolish little people who think it's fun to say cruel, simple, nasty lies about people they don't know. We're lucky when we can avoid them in our personal lives, so don't go around lifting up rocks on the internet.
posted by davejay at 4:20 PM on May 20, 2010

Look at some pictures of Winston Churchill and think about how it wasn't some skinny pretty guy that saved the world, it was a fat man with a bulldog face. If your beautiful friend was in an accident that disfigured them, would you start to snub them and think they suck? You know that beauty isn't important, it isn't even consistent through the ages, so stop worrying about how beautiful you are!

A plump and average-looking (though maybe the nose lump pushes me over into slightly below average looking) but intelligent and creative person.
posted by meepmeow at 4:32 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Someone on Metafilter linked to the Dirty once (nsfw), and I was immediately revolted and entranced.

I spent hours looking through the local pictures on the site, seeing all these girls in my area who were mostly fit and tanned and made up within an inch of their life. Then I'd read the main commenter's negative assessment of them (God forbid I read the actual comments; even I don't have a stomach that strong), and it became quite obvious that nothing will ever be good enough for everyone.

There will always be a strata of people who think I'm unattractive, or you're unattractive, no matter who we are and what we do. Maybe some people have a bigger or smaller strata depending on how they fit into social norms, but the weird thing about the Dirty is it shows the contrary side of subjective beauty, that everyone really does have different tastes (and the folks at the Dirty are completely screwed by their own awful perception of physical beauty).
posted by redsparkler at 4:38 PM on May 20, 2010

Oh, yeah, plus the Dirty is totally racist. That's probably a warning I should throw on there.
posted by redsparkler at 4:55 PM on May 20, 2010

Slagging attractive women online is so common it has its own neologism: Internet Male Syndrome. I once saw a guy deem Megan Fox unfuckable because she has a clubbed thumb. If Megan Fox's appearance is not beyond opprobrium, there is no way the rest of us are escaping it.

Even threads on Metafilter, if the subject of the FPP is female, frequently devolve into an unflattering discussion about her looks. This thread from earlier this week, about an SF short story, contains a reference to the fact that the author "looks like my midwestern high school librarian." And the woman won a Nebula!
posted by cirocco at 5:23 PM on May 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

Even threads on Metafilter, if the subject of the FPP is female, frequently devolve into an unflattering discussion about her looks. This thread from earlier this week, about an SF short story, contains a reference to the fact that the author "looks like my midwestern high school librarian." And the woman won a Nebula!

I swear that wasn't a burn! My high school librarian was a smart, attractive lady. She just wasn't someone I wanted offering me--and then watching me read--alien tentacle sex!
posted by availablelight at 5:59 PM on May 20, 2010

Seriously. If you were to meet the people making these comments about you I'd be wiling to bet you'd want to petition for their sterility. We're talking about the Beavis and Butthead "hurf durf" squad here.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:28 PM on May 20, 2010

Margaret Cho has a few words for you.
posted by schmod at 8:35 PM on May 20, 2010

Don't let the turkeys get you down.
posted by wv kay in ga at 10:22 PM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

On Fark, they call this sharp knees. The Internet in general is spectacularly misogynist. I would let that upset you more than any specific comments about you.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:32 AM on May 21, 2010

Reposting what I posted to an earlier question:

Confidence is work, but at least it comes for free.

Also: stop reading the haters!
posted by Cuppatea at 12:40 AM on May 21, 2010

The Internet in general is spectacularly misogynist.

Actually, the world in general is spectacularly misogynist. It's just that on the internet, you're anonymous. You don't have to look the person in the eye while you're calling them fat and ugly, and there's very little chance that they will ever actually confront you IRL about the horrible things you said.

On the internet, you're free to be a coward, with little risk of repercussions.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:40 AM on May 21, 2010

Related listening: Somebody Hates Me
posted by mikepop at 7:48 AM on May 21, 2010

availablelight, perhaps a better way to make my point would be to say that if you are a woman, it doesn't matter what you are talking about--the online responses will always, always contain observations on your looks and fuckabililty. It doesn't matter what field you're in or how very irrelevant your sexual attractiveness is to that field. For example, I don't remember any male Supreme Court justice's external appearance receiving nearly as much commentary as Sotomayor's and Kagan's appearances have.

This has a very chilling effect on women's willingness to join the public discourse. This, and people's disturbing ability to dismiss forcefully expressed, salient points made by women as mere bids for [male] attention. Knowing that odds are you'll be labeled an ugly attention whore makes you a lot more likely to keep your mouth shut and hope someone else expresses what you're thinking. That shit stings.
posted by cirocco at 3:43 PM on May 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

God, what cirocco said, times a billion.

The bar for being a "public figure" is getting lower, OP, and lots of women have had --or will eventually have-- your experience. And it sucks. Misogyny + anonymity can be a pretty ugly cocktail.

To make yourself feel better, try logic. Most women are not actresses/models/whatever: we weren't hired for our looks, our achievements aren't judged based on them, and we don't have an army of people paid to ensure we're visually flawless at all times. When anonymous monkey-brains online commenters insist on miscategorizing us as "female: hot or not?" (instead of "insightful essayist" or "accomplished human being" or even "I think she is wrong") --- well, then they are the ones who are broken; it's got nothing to do with you.

All the people telling you not to read the comments are wrong, and so are the people telling you to look to your boyfriend for proof you're attractive. This is not about you, and it's not about your looks. Really, it isn't. Don't be afraid: ignore the crap and enjoy yourself :-)
posted by Susan PG at 10:36 PM on May 21, 2010

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