When Dramas Attempt to 'Uglify' Their Heroines

ugly duckling zhao jinmai dilraba dilmurat
There's something about seeing an 'ugly' heroine that catches the attention of the audience. Is it because the character feels more relatable for not being seen as 'perfect'? Is there some sort of thrill in seeing the transformation from an ugly duckling to a beautiful swan that connects with viewers on a personal level?

Curly hair seems to be the common denominator when it comes to Chinese dramas or even Korean dramas and their attempts to portray the ugly duckling. I'm not sure if it's because having straight silky hair has become the common "standard of beauty" in Asia. 

dilmura dilmurat
Oblivious to fashion or a proper dress codeWhile it is quite relatable to have someone who has little to no knowledge about fashion start to develop their sense of style, dramas have a tendency to go for extremes where the types who don't fit into the mold are downright clueless and often seen in clothes that are cringeworthy to say the least.  

Before everything else, she is also painfully naive. These characters are often innocent to a fault or worse, immature and borderline stupid (sorry for the term). I mean, is it necessary? Watching Dilraba Dilmurat having to exhibit childlike behaviors in Pretty Li Huizhen, the Chinese remake of the K-drama She Was Pretty starring Hwang Jung Eum, had me questioning if it was even possible for a person of that age to be that naive.

she was pretty hwang jung eum
With A Little Thing Called First Love - a drama adaptation of the hit Thai film Crazy Little Thing Called Love about a young girl's process in changing her appearance in order to be noticed by her crush, it seems that we're seeing many of the same things. Angel Zhao Jinmai's character is a very raw, teenage girl with natural perms and crooked teeth; not to mention her tanned skin. It's like a throwback to my high school pre-makeup years. Although I don't think that having a curly hair constitutes to being ugly at all. Why must it always be the perms. 

angel zhao jinmai perm teeth
The trajectory of the downtrodden heroine often follows the same path. All of her efforts are in vain no matter how hard she tries. Then there's the change in mindset to finally get her sh*t together and fight for it. And in order to do that, she has to look the part. And the first step she knew she needed was a change in her wardrobe and looks aka the MAKEOVER. 

dilraba dilmurat
zhao jinmai
That said, I'm glad that in this day and age, with the evolution of style and the advocacy for self love, girls are slowly starting to embrace their naturally curly hair and learning that beauty isn't limited to one thing. It's in embracing your real self, all tanned with crooked teeth in a society that screams for perfection is where true beauty lies.


  1. Lol, I know right? I never understood why female characters in dramas choose their college major based on their crush' major. I mean, seriously? Don't they have a spine?

  2. Makeup artist and drama stylist need to be more creative with their supposedly "ugly" style of heroine. Curly hair, nerdy glasses, dark skin every time.

    Don't understand either why curly hair must be used to indicate the ugliness before the transformation into a beauty. Women with straight hair also can look ugly with the right tacky styling. One of the examples shabby-looking heroine with straight hair are the one in Our Times or A Love So Beautiful.

    And true, ugly heroine doesn't necessarily have to be so naive. They should add some charming qualities to the heroine eventhough they're not the typical pretty. Sometimes irl there are common-looking ones who are smart or ones who are very good at her job. It'd be nice to see the hero like heroine because of those charming points. not after their transformation, only then they realise how charming the girl is and they've been liking the girl all along. Also, the heroine transformation should be done for themselves to look more presentable and become more self-confident, not because wanting to impress the boy they like.

  3. The movie A Little Thing Called First Love is based on reveals at the end that our ML liked the FL all along, dark skin, frizzy hair and all, which was nice. I find myself chiding the FL for being so hesitant and timid, but honestly I was very introverted as a teenager, and even in my 20's, so it is possible to be that shy as an adult. It took me until my 30's to be really comfortable in my own skin.

  4. I think that curly hairs are beautiful. we should stop stereotyping people.

  5. ugh yes like curly hair arent ugly, i like the original A little thing called first love cause they didnt went to the extreme with her "ugly" look, the female lead reminded me of my teenage years, going out under the sun with no protection, dk shit about skin care or beauty,just a very inexperienced teenager that doesnt know makeup or have time or money for it. it wasnt as big when i was growing up. it's even more annoying when you already know how the FL looks and they re already pretty, so it seems insulting to those who have those features

  6. I'm enjoying the sweet first love/romance in this drama. The cliche trope of the ugly ducking with a makeover is definitely not a good message for young teenagers. But I think the drama actually did a good job with dealing with that. I don't recall anyone calling the FL ugly, only remember one of the ML bf making fun of her teeth. And unfortunately boys will always be immature and say stupid things like that. The FL started to develop her own style as she matured and became more comfortable in her own skin (I love that she wears jeans and sneakers instead of skirts and high heels to university). Everyone I know cringes at their own teenage/highschool photos. Most celebrities also have the dorkiest highschool photos =P

    My takeaway from the drama is that the ML and FL liked each other for who they were and not how they looked. She was initially attracted to him when he was being goofy and was pretending to wear the pomelo like a hat, and he was attracted to her when she was her bubbly and fun self around him. Humour and confidence are attractive!

  7. There's so much controversy and discussion over the "Ugly Duckling" storyline that it's overshadowing the "Stalker" plot. He Xin (the ML's cousin and FL's bff) has had a crush on Li Kaituo since they were kids it seems. How that infatuation/crush can turn into love when he is mean to her and has made it clear that he does not like her that way is beyond me. She is a stalker and it's scary how the drama is portraying her as the victim when he thinks she's the one who's spready rumours about the FL. She was the one who faked a leg injury, stalks his every move and never takes no for an answer. Is it wrong of him to think that she would go that far? I don't think so. It also looks like the drama may have them end up together because LKT will come to realize HX really loves him and has done so much for him. That's a shame that the message there is that if you ignore what someone tells you and continue to do as you please, you will get what you want. No means no, regardless it's a girl telling a guy or a guy telling a girl. This is just as important as the message of not judging someone by their looks and how beauty standards segregate us as fellow human beings.

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