Anita Bhagwandas

09 May 2024
336 pages


'Ugly is not only a must read, it's an urgent read' - Farrah Storr
'This book unravels what we think we know about beauty' - Poorna Bell

Where did the word 'pretty' come from? Why do we shave our armpits? When did cosmetic surgery move from being functional to aesthetic? When did tanned skin become idealised? When did 'anti-ageing' slogans make us fear getting older?

After years of feeling 'ugly' despite a successful career in the beauty industry, journalist Anita Bhagwandas grew tired of a world where it is desirable to be skinny but curvy, light-skinned but not too pale, and glamorous but natural. As beauty trends fluctuate and self-care becomes expensive, it's increasingly hard to keep up. Social media preaches 'you do you' and 'love yourself first', but unattainable dominant beauty standards continue to reign. The reality remains true: on most days, it can be hard to feel beautiful. Or even just 'not ugly.'

So what is beauty, exactly? Where did it come from? And, most importantly, who gets to define it?

Ugly is a compelling exposé and a campaign against the ideals that are sold to us daily so we never feel enough. Because it's only when we really interrogate the origins of 'ugly', that we can truly begin to break free.

***** 'Fascinating dive into the history of beauty'
***** 'Reading this book has shifted how I think about both myself and others'
***** 'I thought I was reasonably well informed about the subject but there was so much I had no idea about'
***** 'A very important must read for women of all ages. Now going to buy copies for each of my three daughters'
***** 'Emotional and funny, as well as hugely enlightening and inspiring'
Ugly showed me new ways to think about prevailing beauty standards, and to question the role technology plays in perpetuating them, without feeling like a jerk for wanting to wear lipstick and perfume.
Anita's deep dive into beauty, its history and the pressure to look "perfect" is essential reading
A bold, beautiful undertaking - this book unravels what we think we know about beauty, both in how we view ourselves and others. Anita's thorough research, lived in experience and brilliant prose makes it a must read for anyone struggling to find their place in the world.