While reading John Stott’s The Cross of Christ the other day, I was arrested by his phrase “fascination with the ugly.” In context, he characterized it as a product of the fall of mankind, the contrary of “gifts of aesthetic appreciation” that God placed in us at creation.
I am not as studied as I’d like to be in the concept of beauty, but I know it is to be pursued alongside goodness and truth. So I am concerned with our culture’s increasing fascination with the ugly.
I see this particularly in children's film and products. For example, we all remember Shrek. Funny, yes, but in the end our heroes embrace ugliness in the name of true love. In Enchanted we are asked to trade beautiful fairy tale ideals for what we can actually grasp in the big city—cockroaches, rats, and all. And outside of film, what is up with the Uglydoll fad?
Because this mild crassness does not constitute gratuitous sin, Christians don’t decry it. But beauty is God’s territory—should we not hasten to hold the ground? After all, if we accept that ugliness can be as good as beauty, it is not difficult to substitute pride for humility or meanness for kindness.