Ugly Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

My ugly sweater
My ugly sweater

The holiday party at my work is on Wednesday and they are having an ugly sweater contest.  When I first read the memo, I thought, “meh.”  Then the more the idea settled, the more fun it seemed.  I searched through thrift store racks for something so ridiculous no one could argue the ugliness.  Then, I began to think of ways I could make it look even worse.

Last night, I finally got around to sewing strings of bells onto my sweater.  I finished one sleeve and examined it, convinced it might just be hideous enough to win.

And then my older son walked into the room (he’s thirteen.)

“Why are you sewing bells onto your sweater?” he asked.

“Because I’m making my ugly sweater even uglier.”

“But it’s not ugly, it looks kind of pretty.”

Pretty?!  I stopped to look at his expression, certain he was messing with me, like when he convinced me a bee had landed in my hair.  (There was no bee, but I hope he enjoyed the show, because I have not forgotten… and I will get him back!)

“It looks fancy,” he said.

Well, fancy wasn’t what I was going for.  I decided that ugly was in the eye of the beholder.  And then my thoughts led me down the loopy path that became this post…

Ribbon and cats do not go well together
Ribbon and cats do not go well together

The gifts under my 4-ft Walmart tree are not adorned with bows or ribbon.  I have never lived with a cat who could not resist chewing and ingesting the ribbon.  It’s like ribbon is woven with tuna and catnip and is too irresistible to the feline palate.  Never mind the intestinal issues that follow… not even that will deter them.  This is why I have a strict no ribbon policy and no matter how much the kids beg for the “pretty stuff”, it won’t happen.

Some might see our gifts as not aesthetically pleasing; even ugly.  I’m so used to “plain” presents that I see the assorted wrapping papers and think, “pretty!”

Again, ugly is in the eye of the beholder.

Here’s where my thoughts looped again, and I associated this statement with people.  I’ve met people who, on the surface, seem ordinary or dull, but once I got to know them, they were quite interesting- whether it be fascinating travels, quirky sense of humor or unique hobbies.  What a pleasing surprise that is!

On the other hand, it’s a crushing disappointment to be enamored by the fluff and frills, only to discover that once all that’s gone, there’s nothing of substance.  When that happens, it’s hard to remember what I found so beautiful in the first place, because all I could see was the ugliness beneath it all.  It’s like even the memories were a fraud; they became fuzzy and disconnected from the reality I learned.

Ugly really is in the eye of the beholder.

Age has taught me a few things.  Like, gravity happens, but it matters less and less.  And, maybe my parents understood more than I gave them credit for.  And, the best friends are those who don’t need to be everybody’s friend.

And finally, real beauty isn’t observed in a glance.

Have a beautiful Tuesday (even if you happen to be donning an ugly sweater!)


32 thoughts on “Ugly Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

  1. taylorjane December 8, 2015 / 7:09 AM

    That dog ugly sweater is perfection! I hope you win the contest!

    • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 6:33 PM

      Thanks, Taylorjane! It really is a hideous sweater 🙂

  2. Timothy Price December 8, 2015 / 7:23 AM

    You are getting to have a good attitude about stuff. I’m pulling for you to win! Some years ago a young staff member asked if I had an ugly Christmas Sweater I could do some photos of him in. I don’t have sweaters period, but I called my mom, and she had a doozy of an ugly sweater. The photos we did were fun and outrageous.

    • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 6:34 PM

      It can get awkward if you ask for an ugly sweater and the person thinks it looks really nice, hehe. I will have to do a post soon about how the sweater fared…

  3. Anita Kushwaha December 8, 2015 / 3:06 PM

    That sweater has a great shot at winning the contest! If only the dogs had been cats, ha ha. 😉

    • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 6:35 PM

      I know, right? A cat sweater would’ve been purrrrrfect 🙂 Okay, that was so bad, I’m groaning!

      • Anita Kushwaha December 15, 2015 / 8:11 AM

        Ha ha, just my kind of joke! 😉

  4. diannegray December 8, 2015 / 3:20 PM

    Your son is so sweet!

    Beauty and ugliness are things we see differently, it’s like the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ (although I don’t know why men are always quoted in these sayings) 😉

    Have a beautiful week, Janna xxxx

    • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 6:36 PM

      You’re funny, Dianne! Just so you know, his sweetness faded when a few days later he commented on how my face looked “wrinklier” than normal.

  5. nrhatch December 8, 2015 / 3:59 PM

    Festive dogs are cute
    Tacky tacked on bells are not
    So you’ve got a shot!

    I like plain & simple gift wrapping, sans ribbon, too . . . I use mostly recycled material.

    “. . . the best friends are those who don’t need to be everybody’s friend.” ~> YES!

    BTW: Don’t you think your son cancelled out the bee incident with that comment?

    • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 6:37 PM

      Grace by letting it slide would be nice, but he keeps racking up the ‘rude’ comments and makes it difficult 🙂 The friends statement is one that a few people have agreed with- glad it’s not just me!

      • nrhatch December 14, 2015 / 8:01 PM

        Like that cheeky “wrinklier” comment? ~> Yeah . . . have at ‘im! :mrgreen:

        • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 8:25 PM

          Christmas is coming, haha! (Only kidding… I won’t mess with Christmas 🙂 )

  6. pattisj December 8, 2015 / 10:05 PM

    I hope you’ll let us know if your sweater was ugly enough to win. Your son’s reaction surprised me. Maybe it would have been different if you were going to wear it out in public with him. 😉

    • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 6:39 PM

      That would be an interesting experiment, Patti. Even when I think I look sort of presentable, he looks at me like, “seriously? You plan to leave the house like that?” I can’t win, haha!

  7. momtheobscure December 9, 2015 / 7:42 AM

    Very true and sometimes what we believe is beautiful is what is conventional and accepted. We should all cultivate our own taste. As for cats, I have one of those too! I have two cats, but only one that is obsessed with ribbons. We’ve had some harrowing incidents, but he still can’t help himself. Better to just not have ribbon around.

    • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 6:41 PM

      It’s kind of a relief to know maybe I’m not just drawn to stupid cats 🙂 That is an interesting idea… how society can influence our perception of ugly and beautiful. Thanks for stopping by, Momtheobscure. I hope you’re doing well.

  8. Debbie December 9, 2015 / 9:30 AM

    Gee, Janna, I was with your son about the sweater being pretty — until you sewed those bells on it! That definitely puts it in the class of “ugly.” At least you won’t be ignored, right?! I mean, who could ignore someone who walks in sounding like Tinkerbell?!

    As for the presents, I know exactly what you mean. Dallas has always left the gifts, decorations, and the tree alone (fortunately!). I guess the scent of catnip and tuna aren’t enticing to Shelties!!

    • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 6:43 PM

      Haha, you’re right- it was impossible to be quiet in that sweater. I had one co-worker that appeared quite ready for me to go home 🙂 I imagine Shelties would prefer steak flavored ribbon, Debbie.

  9. Widdershins December 9, 2015 / 7:27 PM

    I’m with your son on the ‘ugly sweaters’ thing. I think they’re wonderful creations. I also think that some trendy ‘cool’ person decided they were above such things as frivolous colourful sweaters (they only wore shades of black) and so the meme was born.

    • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 6:44 PM

      It was fun, Widdershins. And I have an awesome idea for what I could do next year, if they have the event again 🙂

  10. Nurse Kelly December 9, 2015 / 8:25 PM

    So cute, Janna! Loved this post! Let us know if you win, but I think it’s kind of pretty, too 🙂

    • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 6:45 PM

      Thanks, Nurse Kelly! I will do an update post for those who are curious how it placed 🙂

  11. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) December 10, 2015 / 2:45 AM

    Ugly is really same as beauty… in the eye of the beholder.. but maybe even more it’s set in norms and rules. So interesting to see that hideous clothes we once thought beautiful are now considered ugly… A while ago we had an 80’s party and I managed to find a suit in a thrift store that once was the most fashionable you could have… shoulder pads wide enough so I almost had to go sideways through doors… trousers that seemed to be twice as big as any that I have today with a waistline that seemed to reach my chest… That sweater you have could easily have been seen as fashion in the 80s… 🙂

    • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 6:47 PM

      Oh my, I remember shoulder pads! There was a lot of stuff in the 80s that would be a stretch to call “fashion”! That is a good point though about how norms can affect our views. It does make me wonder just who exactly decides this fashion and why someone doesn’t say, “hey, wait a second… that looks stupid- we won’t wear that!” 🙂

  12. agjorgenson December 13, 2015 / 6:35 PM

    “Best friends are those who do not need to be everybody’s friend.” Now that’s a keeper!

    • jannatwrites December 14, 2015 / 6:49 PM

      I do think that’s true, Allen. I’m glad I’m not the only one 🙂

  13. the dune mouse December 16, 2015 / 5:49 PM

    even ugly sweaters can be warm!! and oh that cat!! Wonderful post! All the best for the Christmas Season Janna!!

    • jannatwrites January 5, 2016 / 10:37 PM

      Thanks, TDM – I hope you had a happy new year 🙂

  14. GodGirl December 18, 2015 / 2:53 AM

    “Real beauty isn’t observed in a glance” – I like that! How true, the ways people surprise us and challenge our initial assumptions. First impressions certainly aren’t everything.
    Hope the sweater went down well at the party – sounds like such a fun idea!

    • jannatwrites January 5, 2016 / 10:36 PM

      Thanks, God Girl! My sweater took first place in the ugly sweater contest, so I must have an eye for ugly 🙂

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