The ugly of South America have a new ally: The BBC reports that writer Gonzalo Otalora is taking to the streets for the cause of the less-than-beautiful, demanding that the Argentine government ensure equality for those possessing less-than-lovely looks by, among other things, taxing companies that "help us to think that way, that beauty is only aesthetics." (Do you hear him, Conde Nast?) Otalora, the author of the new book Feo! ("Ugly!"), feels that the homelier suffer at the hands of the handsome. He would know!

"I was a child with thick glasses, spots and braces. The kids made fun of me at school. Later the girls rejected me in the discos. And then when I was looking for work, I felt so ugly and insecure that I was rejected again and left without a job.

Otalora hopes to find an ally in Argentine president Nestor Kirchner, outside whose residence he is currently camping: after, all, Kirchner is ugly too.

The president for me is a comrade...He also had thick glasses and spots. They also made fun of him. He was also very brave in overcoming his difficulties. The only difference now is that he's president of the country, and I'm not. And he's with an attractive woman, and I'm not...

Question is, who will decide who is or isn't ugly? Could it be, as Umberto Eco posits, that repulsiveness, like beauty, might be in the eye of the beholder?


Argentina: Ugly People Strike Back [BBC]
Related: Feo! [Editorial Lataneo]
Not Pretty [NY Times]