I find stories about the Good Ugly Girl immensely entertaining.
It’s a buttery-popcorn night at my house when I can watch the angst arising from shallow relationships and wicked step-sister plots transform into joyful self-awareness and dream-fulfillment.
This includes Good Ugly Girl landing the object of her affection, Handsome Boy. He usually has the happy task of dumping Snotty Mean Girl after he realizes he’s an alpha male who wants a richer, more thoughtful relationship.
The actress is never really ugly, by the way. To quote the timeless wisdom of character Helen Morehouse on The Simpsons, “I wanted Mary Ann on ‘Gilligan’s Island’ ugly, not Cornelius on ‘Planet of the Apes’ ugly. TV ugly, not … ugly-ugly….”
In every feel-good movie, Good Ugly Girl becomes The Swan. She sheds the paunchy clothes and the bad hairdo, exposing the shining beauty we always knew was underneath. She overcomes, she succeeds. She extends a hand of friendship to Snotty Mean Girl, who generally rejects it and ends up with pimples.
There’s a reason people relate to this story. I doubt a single person exists in the world who doesn’t feel insecure about at least one area of her life. (If you’re out there, Totally Secure Person, please let me know. I would love to interview you.)
Recently, I read the testimony of a professional in my industry who I shall call Has It Made. Has It Made built an enviable resume in journalism despite a lack of education in that field. When investigating the possibility of pursuing a degree later on, a professor of journalism said, “At this point, there’s nothing more we could possibly teach you.”
Has It Made reasoned this was because of natural ability, drive, and a lifetime of experience. Her conclusion was, when it comes to writing, “you either have it or you don’t.”
When I read those words, I felt I had just been blown off by Simon Cowell. Has It Made might as well have said (in a posh British accent), “Shut up and go home. The only place you should be singing is in the shower…and only if you’re all alone.”
I, Good Ugly Girl, had just been slighted by Snotty Mean Girl/Simon Cowell. And she didn’t even know it.
Is this person right? Are all areas of creative endeavour like singing—you either have “it” or you don’t? Is there no range of ability between tone deaf and Celine Dion? Painting, writing, acting, music…do all these artistic pursuits depend solely on talent?
I hope not. Over the years, I’ve heard many instructors say in writing workshops, courses and seminars: “Keep writing, keep submitting, and someday you’ll succeed.” If they were lying, I’ve been wasting my time.
I’ve come to realize that natural talent does make the journey easier. People like Has It Made will always be with us, but our perception of their rise to the top may not be accurate. If you ask them, they might say they’ve struggled, too. However I perceive them, it’s not an excuse for me to stop trying. The real battle is won through hard work and the determination not to give up.
Snotty Mean Girl has often whispered in my ear, “Get outta here, kid…you ain’t got no future.” When I was 15, her voice was so familiar I thought it was my own, and I listened. Today, when I hear her speak, I choose to blow her off. How about you?