Toni Raiten-D’Antonio begins Ugly as Sin by making a radical statement: that she is ugly in the eyes of the world. Her goal in this book is to free women everywhere from the shackles that society’s perceptions have on us. She talks about how the debilitating fear of being ugly wreaks havoc on our bodies, minds, and hearts. She talks about how, as a society, we have developed these insane standards of beauty that ensure every woman believes herself to have tons of flaws. And she talks about how we can free ourselves from these impossible standards and embrace ourselves for the ugly and beautiful parts we all have.
I went into Ugly as Sin with the expectation that I would learn something. I was expecting to get some new knowledge, some new information, or at least a new perspective on how society has construed women’s perceptions of themselves and their self-esteem in negative ways. I wanted to know how we got here, how we evolved into this society that puts beauty before all else, and puts so much pressure on women to be perfect in every single aspect.
I don’t want to say I didn’t get what I was expecting at all, but I was mildly disappointed when Ugly as Sin was just an okay reading experience for me. It was much more a self-help book than a sociological examination of beauty standards in our culture, and to be fair, I think it’s marketed as a self-help book and I somehow missed the memo. And I really don’t like self-help books. So the fault is more mine than anything else. I will say, however, that I think this book could be a great tool for a lot of women, so instead of going into too much detail about what I didn’t like about it, I’ll explain what Raiten-D’Antonio did well.
I think there are a lot of women out there who hate their bodies, who obsess over every single flaw they see, and don’t ever think about exactly why they do this. They don’t ever take a second to think about the fact that society has conditioned them to be so critical of themselves, instead they constantly pick and prod and worry and diet and obsess, blaming their own bodies and minds for every single thing they think is wrong with themselves. These women absolutely need a copy of this book. These women need to understand that no matter what they do, no matter how perfect they actually become, the world will always find something ugly about them. And they need, somehow, to become okay with that, and to embrace themselves for who they are anyway.
What I believe was missing from this book was an in-depth look at teen girls. A look at how parents, teachers, and other adults important in the lives of girls and young women can help teens avoid some of the negativity and low self-esteem issues that most women suffer from. We all have little girls and young women in our lives, and I know that most women wouldn’t want their daughters to grow up feeling awful about their looks, so what can we do to prevent that? I think a discussion about this would have been a nice addition to the book.
Ugly as Sin is an important book in that it examines what adult women can do to understand that the feelings they have about being ugly, about not being good enough, and wanting to be perfect in every way are the norm and almost every single woman out there suffers from the same thing. Women who need to be reminded that these issues stem from societal pressure and not personal imperfections will definitely benefit from this book. While the book isn’t really my cup of tea, it will resonate heavily with many, many women.