Ugly is Interesting

“Nooooo”, I wailed, “I don’t think she is ugly at all.”

Though she is ugly to look at, she’s not nasty,
and one night so she flew with Daisy on her back!


These lines are from the book “Children of the Forest” by Elsa Beskow. It was my favourite story and I used to shake my head every time my mum reached this part of the story. I thought the old bat was beautiful and I could not understand those horrible words.

“Beautiful” and “Ugly” are words that can influence and affect that the way we look at things. Look at the photos below and ask your child and yourself:

Which animal would you like to save?

What criteria are you using when you are thinking about working for endangered animals or donating money to save a species?



The Ugly Animal Preservation Society (UAPS) works towards raising the profile of some more aesthetically challenged animals. The panda gets a lot of attention and it might be easier to feel that this animal is worth saving compared to the blobfish with a “miserable” expression and the proboscious monkey with an enormous long nose

Imagine that you are trying to make sure that your child does not climb the tree while he is waiting for his music lesson. A great and easy way to explore a subject is to look for positive, negative, and interesting aspects with the suggestion. This is a quick way to not only weighing the pros and cons of a decision or action. It is also useful for widening a child perception of a situation.

This way of approaching something can be widened and you can ask your child to think about beautiful, ugly, and interesting aspects of a picture or photo or an idea. Aesthetics is important and it may influence some of our choices more than we are aware of.  


Raising the profile of animals that are not at first sight anyway “cute and cuddly” makes us think about our underlying values and the way we are “automatically” drawn towards certain things, animals, or people. Drawing the attention to ugly animal is not in itself a new idea. There are many of the ugliest competitions such as the world’s ugliest dog and  cat competitions and agencies that are using ugly models.

All animals were beautiful to me as a child. I like to think that the story about the children in the forest played a part in me gaining insight into how we judge things depending upon their beauty. Stories and books are an important tool to gain valuable insights and ideas. Does your child have any favourite stories? Stories that looks at beauty and ugliness like The Beauty and the Beast?

Photo: Giant panda  By Chi King – Pandas!! (GIANT PANDA/WOLONG/SICHUAN/CHINA), CC BY 2.0,




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