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Forum for the Ugly People – study of an imagined community

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Abstract

This paper asks how sickness, aesthetics and politics intervene when it comes to labelling oneself ugly. My study of an online community named ‘Forum for the Ugly People’ on the biggest Internet portal in Poland, Gazeta Wyborcza ( http://www.gazeta.pl) raises two key questions. What are the self-ascribing criteria for being ugly? Is ugliness treated as a disease, or as a personal fault of the stigma bearer? Treating ugliness as Douglasian ‘dirt’– matter out of place – an anomaly that must be separated and dealt with accordingly, I explore the everyday politics of defining ugliness. The analysis details the various ways in which ugliness is held to handicap everyday experience and outlines three modes of ‘treatment’ that are discussed frequently by the Forum members. Critically, the paper not only demonstrates how users of this Internet Forum derive comfort and a sense of belonging from participating in their ‘imagined community’– a solidarity comprised of those who similarly self-ascribe themselves as ugly – but also how they exercise their own forms of inclusion and exclusion.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Jagiellonian University

Publication date: 01 December 2010

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