Sliding Scale of Beauty

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While in Real Life the concept of beauty is very subjective, in fiction there is a clear consensus on beauty. In addition beauty tends to be dynamic, as some characters get uglier or more beautiful than before.

This scale is to show how beautiful someone is to the rest of the cast, not to the audience (differences happen).

Please note that this isn't a meta trope, nor a subjective trope. All beauty should be measured as it is portrayed inside the story.

Related to I Just Want to Be Beautiful.

  • Divine Level beauty
    • For these people, "Gorgeous" would be an insult. Their beauty is so great, it appears to be nothing short of divine intervention (and it may well be). They might attract heterosexuals of the same gender. They are so beautiful, in fact, that everyone loses control of themselves simply by looking at them. You could stare at them for hours.
  • World Class beauty
    • These kind of characters are extremely good looking. It isn't uncommon for numerous characters mentioning their attractiveness often. They always have a lot of people after them at all times. Their beauty is magazine cover-worthy and they are usually envied a lot. Beyond that, characters don't act particularly different around them.
  • Common beauty
    • These kind of characters are "slightly" beautiful. They are certainly attractive, as in, there is something "special" in their appearance, just nothing "extraordinary". They are beautiful enough to have admirers, but not enough to live off their beauty. Cute characters and Cool Losers are often in this category.
  • Imperfect beauty/ Uncanny Valley Girl
    • These kind of characters would be very beautiful, if it wasn't for some kind of flaw that ruins their beauty. Maybe it is a scar, glasses, a tail or another kind of flaw or uncommon trait. Sometimes related to "But Your Wings Are Beautiful" when other characters think those uncommon traits actually enhance their beauty.
  • Cool/Special Average
  • Just Average
    • People in this category of beauty aren't neither beautiful nor ugly. They don't have anything particularly special about them. They are also even more ignored than ugly people, because nothing in them stands out.
  • Flawed Average/ Uncanny Valley
    • These kind of characters would be average, if it wasn't for some kind of minor flaw or uncommon trait that makes them look uglier than average. Similar to "Cool/Special Average", except the flaw that makes them unique has the opposite effect.
  • Ugly Cute
    • For these kind of characters there is no denial that they are Ugly as they aren't what society considers beautiful. Despite that, looking at them isn't unpleasant. On the contrary, they are considered very cute. Though that cuteness isn't enough to make them Casanovas.
  • Normal Ugly
    • They are by no means horrendous. They are simply slightly unattractive and homely. Sometimes caused by being fat or having poor care on their appearance.
  • Super Ugly
    • These kind of characters are very, very ugly. Not enough to be excluded from society, but ugly enough to be unliked and/or bullied by that society. They are often the Butt Monkey.
  • Monstrous
    • These kind of characters are so ugly that just looking at them may make you sick. They may use a paper bag to hide their faces or something similar out of shame. When people look at them, they either feel pity or fear for them. It's not uncommon for them to be called "monsters", even if they are explicitly human.
  • Lovecraftian
    • They are so ugly, you may go insane just by looking at them!
Examples of Sliding Scale of Beauty include:


Anime

  • Dragonball Z example. According to Goku, when he tried to bribe old Kai with a Bulma's picture, he claimed that Bulma was very beautiful, as opposed to Milk.
    • In the Cell saga, future Trunks is considered a very handsome man by his mother Bulma.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, there are numerous examples.
    • Rei Ayanami, by Word of God, was intended as an Uncanny Valley Girl. She is described as beautiful, but nonetheless her lack of emotions put her in the Uncanny Valley. However, in Real Life the perception of her is drastically different.
    • Asuka is described as a World Class beauty, according to Shinji's friends, who nonetheless dislike her because of her personality.
    • Kaworu was even explicitly refered to as "divine beauty" in some early scripts. Shinji, who had previously shown a lot of interest in boobies and the like, promptly reacts with a blush when he first gazed upon his face.
  • Calling Belldandy, Urd, Peorth, or any of the "Special" residents in Keiichi's home anything other than "Divine beauty", would be Blatant Lies and a very, very, VERY bad idea.
  • Ahiru from Princess Tutu is a Cool Average. Despite not being described as the most atractive person, her personality and her happy disposition made Fakir fall in love with her.
    • Princess Krahe is describes as a "world class" by her classmates. She is envied in both her beauty and her talent in ballet by a lot of characters.
    • Mytho (at least from Ahiru point of view) is described as divine level, due to the fact that Ahiru became completely obssed with him, even becoming Princess Tutu for him.It wasn't love as revealed in the final episode, becuase Krahe was the one who was really in love with him.
  • Sunako from The Wallflower seems to constantly switch between Normal Ugly and World Class beauty. The four guys fit the latter description too.
  • One Piece in-universe examples:
    • Hancock and Shirahoshi are Divine Level beauty. Nami and Robin, especially Nami, and a few others are World Class beauty. Most other female characters, except the Gonks are Common beauty.
  • In The Secret Agreement, Iori is a World Class beauty, known in the community for not only his family status but his stunning looks, to the point that Kyuusai recognizes him without any introduction after seeing him for the first time. Kyuusai later teases his nephew Yuuichi about their relationship saying "I understand you're the type attracted by looks."
  • Fate/Zero Lancer (aka Diarmuid O'Dyna) is a World Class beauty with an innate magical ability that renders him a divine class beauty to anyone without adequate magic resistance. He's a bit annoyed by this.
  • Chick Magnet Lelouch of Code Geass is a World Class beauty, even Word Of God says that a vast majority of the female populace at his Elaborate University High has a thing for him.
  • Griffith from Berserk was a World Class beauty before the Eclipse, and a Divine Level beauty following his reincarnation. His Femto form is a little too creepy to be any level of beautiful though.
  • Allen Walker from D.Gray-man is either a World Class beauty or an imperfect beauty (due to his deformed arm and facial scar). He gets a lot of attention from girls and guys alike.
  • Sasuke from Naruto is "world class beauty", his good looks are mainly commented on by his admirers.
    • Tsunade and Kushina are possible examples of World Class beauty, as basically everyone who claps eyes on them comments on it.
    • Gaara and Naruto are described as "Common beauty".
  • Sousuke Sagara of Full Metal Panic! is Possibly "Word Class beauty", Even the Guys Want Him.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya herself is described as a Divine Level beauty by Kyon, who admits that if her personality would improve (which it did) then she would be even more beautiful than Mikuru. Mikuru herself probably at least qualifies for World Class.
  • In Hunter X Hunter, the scarlet/flame-coloured eyes of the Kuruta clan are universally considered so beautiful that they're called one of the seven wonders of the world and are more valuable than diamonds.
  • Celty from Durarara!! hovers somewhere between World Class beauty and Divine beauty... or rather, she would be if it wasn't for the fact that she's missing a head, this making her an Imperfect/Uncanny Valley beauty.
  • Madlax is an example of World Class beauty, as basically everyone who claps eyes on them comments on it.
  • Retsu Unohana from Bleach is World Class beauty or Divine beauty. Word of God says she's the most gorgeous woman in all Soul Society.

Comic Books

  • Sin City's women tend to be quite beautiful, ranging from common to World Class beauty. The men, on the other hand, run the gamut from good-looking (Dwight McCarthy) to ugly as sin (Marv).

Films

Music

  • Singer Brandy grew up in a school in Los Angeles where many casting agents would turn when they needed child actors. One time, when a call came for a "Drop dead gorgeous, Vanessa Williams-type", the woman in charge of setting up auditions (something like the school's guidance counselor) didn't send her. When Brandy asked her about this, the woman told Brandy, "You're cute, but you're not Vanessa Williams drop-dead gorgeous." Unfortunate Implications aside, a couple of people have said that that was the spark that fueled Brandy to become successful in the first place.

Mythology

  • Aphrodite/Venus from Classical Mythology definitely fits the Divine Level description.
    • Apollo also goes under the Divine Level beauty.
    • Hephaestus/Vulcan goes somewhere near Super Ugly.
    • Most monsters such as Medusa were considered Lovecraftian.
    • Helen of Troy also had Divine Level beauty despite being a mortal (though this may be explained by Zeus possibly being her father). Her beauty started the famous Trojan War.
    • The mortal Psyche's Divine Level beauty led to her being worshiped as a goddess and making the god of love himself fall for her.

Literature

  • In The Princess Bride, women's beauty seems to have a ranking system that everyone apparently agrees on. There is a #1 most beautiful, #2 most beautiful, and so forth. The very first sentence is "The year that Buttercup was born, the most beautiful woman in the world was a French scullery maid named Annette." Buttercup starts in the top twenty, but after the removal of a few at the top and a life-changing experience, she becomes #1. So she would be World Class beauty.
  • Severus Snape and Pansy are normal ugly, Hermione is Flawed average or Common beauty when she wants to be, given that Harry describes her as "pretty" during the Yule Ball, Cho and Ginny are considered (by Harry) World Class beauty, while Luna is Uncanny Valley (The majority are avoided in the film by the Adaptational Attractiveness).
  • In Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth novel Dirge, the alien Pitar are described as having somewhere between World Class beauty and Divine Level beauty. Many (but not all) humans are described as being affected by their beauty.
  • Sophie from the Infernal Devices is an imperfect beauty example. She used to be beautiful and still is but has a scar stretching across her face.
  • In the world of JRR Tolkien, Arwen Undomiel, her paternal great-great-grandmother Luthien Tinuviel, paternal great-grandmother Idril Celebrindal, and her maternal grandmother Galadriel count under the Divine beauty category; Luthien almost literally does, as her mother was the Maia (kind of like a minor goddess) Melian, to whom nightingales would flock when she sang.
    • All of them are elves, anyway, the whole race could be considered either Divine beauty - since they're immortal - or World Class beauty - since they are certainly not the most perfect or the most beautiful creatures in Arda.
    • The Valar - particularly Varda, queen of stars - definitely fit under Divine beauty (when, that is, they take humanoid form).
    • Eowyn, the only human woman given any significant character development in The Lord of the Rings, probably counts as a World Class beauty.
  • In the Sword of Truth series, Kahlan, Cara, Merissa, Nicci, Shota, and possibly Jennsen would all be World Class beauties. From what other characters say, it seems like Richard, Darken Rahl, and Drefan Rahl are male examples of World Class beauty.
  • Atreus Eleint, protagonist of the Forgotten Realms novel Faces of Deception by Troy Denning, clearly has Monstrous appearance. It's really quite difficult to imagine what he's supposed to look like, to be that ugly. In his case, it's the result of having been changed into a different shape while young and having to grow up without anyone removing the spell; he doesn't look like the other form any more, but it really messed up his normal growth and shape. Interestingly, not everyone in the book thinks he's ugly, but that's just because he meets some people who don't see anyone as ugly. And even some of them do think he is.
  • Uglies. Tally is Flawed Average, the pretties are Divine beauty, the specials are Imperfect beauty.
    • Interesting example, actually. Tally might be anywhere from Normal Ugly up to at least Common beauty. The thing is that no natural beauty can compete with the pretties, so all non-pretties are considered equally ugly.
  • In The Neverending Story, the Childlike Empress is a Divine beauty. The text mentions that she is "indescribably beautiful", and Bastian's first wish while in Fantastica is to be able to keep looking at her forever.
  • In the Dragonlance novels both Laurana and Goldmoon are high end World Class beauties; Goldmoon was literally worshipped by her barbarian tribe for her beauty upon first seeing Laurana all the heroes are dazzled by her looks, even the ultra cynical Raistlin. They don't quite qualify for Divine Level since other characters can interact with them normally without falling in love. Caramon, Tika, Crysiana and Kitiara are all Common beauty.
    • Laurana had multiple characters swear that she was the World's Most Beautiful Woman, and when she rode into the city of Kalaman every man, woman, and child in the city was so mesmerized by her beauty that they could only stare at her in silent awe. Making an entire city go weak in the knees at the sight of her should qualify Laurana as a Divine beauty.
  • In The Bible, the Queen Esther, Joseph, Saul and Abigail are described as "World Class beauty".
    • For perspective, Esther won a beauty contest of all the women in the vast Persian Empire. Joseph, in Islamic legend, literally has half of the beauty that God gave to mankind.
  • In The Kingkiller Chronicle series, the fey creature Felurian is in the Divie beauty cateogry, basically being a sex goddess with whom men fall instantly in love and presumably die either from exhaustion or separation. Then there's Denna, who from Kvothe's point of view is a World Class beauty. However, there are some subtle hints from other characters that Denna is merely Common or Imperfect beauty, implying that Kvothe's impressions are skewed by his love for her. But because she is constantly with other male suitors and essentially lives off her looks, she probably is rather beautiful. Most other women in the series fall into the Common beauty category.
  • In Literature/Twilight, the Cullens are Divine beauty. Bella is just average (or maybe Common beauty; the people around her seem to think the latter), until she becomes a vampire. Every human has a beauty upgrade if they become a vampire; some, like James, were probably so ugly in life that even as a vampire they don't reach Divine beauty.

Live Action TV

  • The Twilight Zone plays with this in one episode where a woman undergoes plastic surgery to become beautiful because she falls into the Most Horrible Ever category (there's a village made just for ugly people so nobody would be forced to look at them). Of course being The Twilight Zone there's a twist: she turns out to be what many viewers would consider at least somewhat pretty. It's just that everyone in their world is hideous with pig noses and their beauty standards are built around that.
  • In Zoey 101, James is considered "World Class beauty" while Logan is considered Common beauty or "Special average".

Lola: Oh! Yeah, we're here to meet a guy named Logan...our age. Sorta...good looking.
Michael: Sorta.

Oral Tradition

  • "Adalminas Pearl": Adalmiina is a princess who gets as her birth gift an enchanted pearl that makes her more beautiful every day. The plot also makes her a plain peasant girl at one point - depending on version, Flawed average or Normal Ugly. Adalmina is a character who depending on how pretty she was as an infant, could very possibly be five grades of beauty and one grade of ugly, while averting Hollywood Homely and Beautiful All Along. It's actually scary to think that no matter what, she will be much more beautiful as a granny than as a young princess.

Tabletop Games

  • In The World of Darkness tabletop roleplaying games, if you fill out your character sheet to have the maximum level of Appearance, you are so beautiful that it would violate the Masquerade to be seen in public.
  • Exalted also has an Appearance stat, with 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6+ being Super Ugly, Normal Ugly, Just Average, Cool/Special Average, Common Beauty, World Class, and Divine respectively.
  • GURPS literally has such a sliding scale—every character, every creature can have an above- or below-average appearance as an advantage or disadvantage (the scale goes Transcendent, Very Beautiful, Beautiful, Attractive, Average, Unattractive, Ugly, Hideous, Monsrous, Horrific).
  • Nymphs in Dungeons & Dragons must be Divine Level—they're so beautiful it actually acts as a Brown Note, at least if they will it. In 2nd Edition, it could not be turned off. See a nymph, you go blind. See one naked, and you die. Talk about So Beautiful It's a Curse.

Video Games

  • In Metal Gear Solid 4, the BB Corps are physically on the top end of World Class, but in practice are terrifying Imperfect beauties due to their animalistic robot suits and unstable personalities. Snake is implied to be an ex-bottom-end-of World Class who is now Ugly as a result of his age, its effect on his appearance likened by Drebin to the effect of the BB Corps's suits.
  • Based on the amount of attention she gets (mainly from very minor characters), Aerie from Baldur's Gate 2 might just qualify for World Class beauty. By the same logic, at least Jaheira and perhaps other female party members as well qualify for Common beauty.
  • The Player Character from A Dance With Rogues (a Neverwinter Nights custom module) is definitely World Class beauty, even if it's not intended quite that way. Everybody drools after her. (Well, the module was written by a female who thought there wasn't enough flirting in the official plot and who apparently had some rather racy fantasies.) Even though the module allows a custom (female) character, there is a minimum requirement of 14 charisma for her to account for this. One gets the feeling it should be 16. (For the uninitiated: 18 is the normal maximum.)

Web Original

  • The Whateley Universe has a few examples of this:
    • The "thornies" and most of Faction 3 would be classed as montrous.
    • Fey is a Divine beauty due to her glamour that she can't turn off although she would be at least world class without it.
    • Despite actually being a lovecraftian horror, Sara comes across as a Divine beauty.
    • Most of the exemplars are World Class beauties.

Western Animation

  • Several examples of various levels from the Total Drama series:
    • Justin is Divine Level beauty so that nearly every woman (and several men and even animals) fall instantly in love with him.
    • Lindsay, Alejandro and Heather are World Class beauty , with numerous characters mentioning their attractiveness. However unlike Justin, no one looses control of themselves simply by looking at them (Alejandro comes close, but even he has to speak before his charm fully kicks in.)
    • Gwen, Izzy, Duncan, Trent, Courtney, Bridgette etc. are Common beauty. A couple of people call each of them hot, but that's it.
  • In Family Guy, Meg Griffin varies between Super Ugly and Monstrous. Being with her is considered A Fate Worse Than Death in this show. However, in an Alternate Universe, she is super attractive - though she is still "one of the ugly ones" as everyone is gorgeous in this universe. There is also the episode where she gets a make-over and is upgraded to World Class beauty.
    • Lois Griffin is considered World Class beauty.
  • In Gargoyles, Demona is seen as a World Class beauty gargoyle by that species' standards. For a human, she looks like an Imperfect beauty. When she transforms into a human by day, she is considered very attractive, enough to fool her nemesis Mcbeth into marriage.
  • The Fairly OddParents has a super ugly example. There's a kid with a zit blown out of proportion Hollywood Nerd style. He's the most unpopular kid in school and nobody wants to sit near him.
    • Cosmo also is considered Ugly.
  • In The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, there's Tee Hee Tummy Tums http://flapjack.wikia.com/wiki/Tee_Hee_Tummy_Tums "the most beautiful man in the world" who wears a mask at all times to protect the world from his shining Divine beauty. His beauty is so great that it causes people to throw money at him and his presumably equally beautiful family.
    • This series is famous however to have many many more characters in the opposite side of the scale.
  • The mutants in Futurama are a Most Horrible Ever example. They are people mutated by toxic waste and their children are almost always born horribly mutated. The law forces them to live in the sewers because they're so hideous.
  • The Ugly Barnacle in is Lovecraftiana.
  • Prince Zuko is arguably an Imperfect beauty in the second and third seasons. At least, Jin, Mai, and the fangirls in the Beach Episode don't seem to mind his giant burn scar and lack of social skills, and he can summon Disturbed Doves by removing his shirt.