"Fugliness transcends ugliness. Experiencing it is physical, emotional, spiritual and ontological devastation." Salon readers speak out about the pleasures and the provenance of the word "fugly."

By Salon Staff
Published March 11, 2005 5:00PM (EST)

[Read "The Good, the Bad and the Fugly," by Melena Z. Ryzik.]

For fug's sake, don't call Ugg boots "an Australian trend"! That's like saying coonskin caps represent the zenith of U.S. fashion (on the other hand...).

Kidding aside, the dreaded ugh boot ("Ugg" is just the U.S. trade name) won't die here, either. Just when there was hope they were nearing extinction, some idiot Americans with severe taste-deficiency syndrome decided they were cool and resuscitated them! Bastards!

-- John Hampshire

Fugliness is not some Hollywood star or fashonista who's in a shitty outfit or letting her or his gut hang out. Fugliness transcends ugliness so immeasurably as to render the observer and observed fuggo null and void. Mute. Experiencing it is physical, emotional, spiritual and ontological devastation. Brittany Spears isn't fugly -- she's just a skank, like Courtney Love and Paris Hilton.

My cousin's wife is fugly. And I'm still trying to deal with it.

-- Don

Oh please, not Salon too. Our culture is drowning in media coverage of celebrities; I suspect that posting oneself on something like an "am I fugly" site is just looking for that 15 seconds of fame -- even if it is fame as a fashion loser. Who cares?

I recall when the checkout stand at the grocery store carried news magazines. Now it is all celebrity gossip rags and the latest alien sighting newsprint trash. We are what we read, and the U.S. is increasingly shallow, gossip mongering, fashion drooling and just...plain....stupid.

-- Kit Cohan

I first heard the word "fugly" in gay bars in the '80s. (Are we queers always ahead of the masses?) Here's a good example of it: I knew this one customer, an average-looking man in his 50s, who would occasionally go to bars in drag. Unfortunately, he looked like Walter Matthau If He Was A Woman. Now that is fugly.

-- Patrick M. Finn

This article wants for pictures. Pictures beyond a random Brit Spears shot are needed. I wanted to see a guy with curly hair and a mullet. This article is proof positive that Salon should utilize pictures more. Would it be that hard to cut and paste?

-- Adam Schenck

Although perched in Darwin [Australia], at the unsophisticated end of a country that reached its U.S. fashion peak two decades ago, I'm surprised to find I can shed some light on the origins of "fugly."

It was widely used in Australian high schools in the late 1980s, and is considered gauche these days.

That might explain why it appeared in "Babe 2: Pig in the City," whose writer and director, George Miller, is a proud Australian with a flair for the vernacular.

A similar word that may take time to trickle north is "fungry." We've even had spoof ads for a hamburger chain called Fungries on a CNN-takeoff comedy show.

-- Rick Hind

Oh puhleez. My gay friends and I have used "fugly" for as long as we can remember (which is usually the previous Saturday night of whichever given week we're talking about). We like to rate fugly as people come into our favorite East Village watering holes. The lower the score the better.

To fug yourself is to stay contemporary by jumping back in time, baby. It's shoving a bruised middle finger up the bikini waxed asshole of "gay style."

Jay McCarroll ("Project Runway") is fugly and fabulous (and fat, which is HOT now). Mr. Jay ("America's Next Top Model") is a bronzed dork.

It's about layers and fasteners and clashing textures with colors and labels and facial scruff (be it a nasty moustache or, yes, a luxurious mullet). Yeah, fug, like anything we gays wear, has become a costumey "drag." It's already played out -- a fact that only makes fugly fuglier.

Fugly is a fine line. McCarroll works it well because he doesn't try so hard. Designers Heatherette and the band the Scissor Sisters are so over-fugged it transcends into ghetto glam, while still great, just isn't fug. Straight people, I swear I'm speaking English here.

Most of us gipsters (gay hipsters -- trust me, not all gays are hip) were born in the mid-'70s. Fug plays with the perceived sleaze and inhibitions of the '70s and chops it on a mirror with the coked-up materialism of the '80s. I personally like to sprinkle in a dash Southern redneck too; that's always a nice kick.

And although fugly comes in many shapes and many sizes, when you see it, yeah, you just know. Go fug yourself!

-- Neil James

Hey, guys -- Like the Ugg boot (of which we're not so proud) the word "fugly" seems to have been around a lot longer than your hard-hitting reporter has been able to discover. In fact, "fugly" has been an Australian colloquialism since well before my father beat me for repeating it after overhearing it in a country pub when I was 4 -- about 40 years ago.

So, sorry. Sorry for the word. Sorry for the Ugg boots themselves. But at least we didn't try to turn it into some sort of social phenomenon.

It takes a special sort of fugginidiot to do that.

-- Michael Silbert

Salon Staff

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