172 Views
1 Comments

Meet the Ugly Girls Club

What would you do if someone called you ugly? If you’re a member of Royal Holloway’s FemSoc, you start a viral selfie campaign. Victoria Rodrigues O’Donnell speaks to members of the so-called ‘Ugly Girls Club’ on the absurdity of beauty standards, lad culture, and starring in the Daily Mail’s ‘Femail’ section.

How did the campaign come about?

The campaign came about through FemSoc members snapchatting each other ironic selfies with the caption #uglygirlsclub after we had been referred to as the ‘ugly girls club’ whilst running a stall talking about consent at an SU night.

What made you decide to reclaim the rude comment in this way? Have you found it to be a successful message or one that girls, especially, are feeling pressured into taking part?

Reclaiming the mean things that people say about you has a particular way of taking the power out of them- once you own something it can’t really hurt you in the same way. Although the campaign has become so widely covered, it’s still entirely optional. We don’t demand or expect photos from anyone, and I don’t feel that pressure is an issue given that we don’t receive photos from an entire group in one go but from individuals one at a time.

The construction of ugliness as a result of conventional beauty standards is a tricky topic; would you say you’re being tongue-in-cheek or seriously challenging these conventions, or both?

The campaign started as very tongue-in-cheek, and we didn’t initially realise how successful it could be, so definitely. However once we saw people beginning to respond we were immediately aware of the strength of a message. It’s a very simple, light campaign which I think is why it works, but we aim to really make people consider the absurdity of conventional beauty standards given the variety of appearances in people. We’ve been misquoted as excluding conventionally ‘hot’ people but the core goal is to unite people seeing as very few people are entirely satisfied with their looks.

Although you’ve said in one interview that someone commented on how “[they’ll] never delete [their] unsatisfactory selfies again”, many girls (and guys alike) would still not do that even if they are happy with themselves; they would rather maintain an online ‘artifice’. What are your thoughts on this choice?

Despite a few misquotes and incorrectly angled articles, we would never seek to condemn anyone for wishing to keep up an online artifice. I believe everyone I’ve ever met has faced some insecurity in terms of appearance, and different people to different levels with different coping mechanisms. We haven’t asked people to forgo make-up or even pull an ‘ugly’ face; a lot of people simply just ran with this idea themselves. We never actually asked anyone to pull a certain face; the aim of the campaign is to inspire confidence in people’s individuality and their achievements rather than physical appearance. Therefore we acknowledge that confidence comes from comfortableness, the selfie idea has really come about as a sort of irony, so to us the presentation is irrelevant. The selfies are purely a signifier of someone declaring their solidarity with us and the campaign.

How do you feel about other universities forming their own Ugly Girls Clubs?

Exeter were the first to form a partner campaign via a friend of a student at Royal Holloway, Kate Noble. She began to publicise through Exeter’s Feminist Society when the campaign was only tiny. So seeing this sudden rush of support and the photos from students that came with it was just incredibly inspiring. It gave us a huge boost of confidence and I believe this is when it really took off! Since then we have heard from Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Goldsmiths, Durham, Brighton, Leeds, Leeds Beckett and many, many others, it is absolutely wonderful that feminist students can find support in each other across the country and even overseas. As a movement that often comes with criticism and spitefulness that can get quite upsetting and personal, this is perfect.

Can the campaign be viewed as a two-fingers-up at the years of ‘Lad Culture’ dominating campuses so long?

Lad Culture is incredibly relevant now as much as it has been for a long time, this is obvious seeing as NUS have recently launched ‘Reclaim Your Campus’, and ‘Sixteen Days of Activism’ as well as the ‘I Heart Consent’ campaign against Lad Culture. The work that has gone into these campaigns has been incredibly successful already, with so many societies, including men’s rugby completing workshops on the issues at Royal Holloway.

What about the media coverage? Have you found it to be sufficient for expressing the society’s opinions or a pleasant surprise no one can be prepared for?

Honestly, both! Considering we never expected even local coverage it’s far more than sufficient. Each article or tweet just pushes the campaign further and therefore allows more exposure. Initially, the sudden explosion of attention was hard to deal with and I don’t think anyone can really prepare for that, particularly a group of unsuspecting students. However, it’s been a brilliant asset so far.

The coverage of the Ugly Girls Club on The Daily Mail was particularly amusing considering their infamy over the ‘Sidebar of Shame’. Any thoughts on that one in particular?

We’re grateful for and surprised by all of the media attention, and the more people involved in the campaign the better. However, the extreme irony of being put in the ‘Femail’ section along with gardening, babies and make-up made us laugh quite a lot! But, we’re happy our message is getting out there none the less.

Where will the RHUL Femsoc (or Ugly Girls Club now!) go next following this immensely popular viral campaign?

In terms of the society itself, we think it’s really important that going into the future, our members know that, despite all the press coverage our sessions are still a safe space. As for our future plans we have campaigns to work on for the Malala Fund and a campaign highlighting the sexism that women face in sport, so we are still going to be quite busy.

And in terms of the campaign, the success seems to have come from the simplicity of it so we have decided not to attempt to add anything or intensify the aims and messages. But we just hope the word will continue to spread and in doing so, continue to unite people against the pressure of conventional beauty standards and being judged on appearance. We hope it both raises awareness of the problems in our society and also inspires personal confidence.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

One Comment

  1. These are some gooood questions Vicks!

    I especially liked: ‘The construction of ugliness as a result of conventional beauty standards is a tricky topic; would you say you’re being tongue-in-cheek or seriously challenging these conventions, or both?’

    I’m not convinced by the reply though.
    Great job!!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
531 views1
Campus News
531 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
71 views
Arts
71 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
105 views
Arts
105 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
105 views
Arts
105 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
131 views
Arts
131 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
146 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
157 views
Arts
157 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
149 views
Arts
149 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
242 views
Campus News
242 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
115 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
228 views
Arts
228 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
148 views
Arts
148 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
219 views
Artist Focus
219 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
156 views
Interview
156 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
221 views
Arts
221 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
247 views
Arts
247 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
286 views
Arts
286 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
199 views
Artist Focus
199 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
212 views
Books
212 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
265 views
Science
265 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
273 views
News
273 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…