The otherwise small Mr. Ugly pageant held in Zimbabwe made the BBC this week when audience members “rioted” at the decision. The reason: winner Mison Sere wasn’t ugly enough, until he opened his mouth. They say that he only won because of his unattractive teeth, something that is sort of disallowed by the rules.
A Modest Prize, but a Pathway to Fame
The Mr. Ugly competition has only been running for a few years, since 2012, but it has attracted a significant amount of attention, both locally and around the world. The prize is only $500, but it is nonetheless very enticing to unemployed contestants like Sere.
And the prize is only the beginning of the reward for being chosen “Mr. Ugly.” As with many other pageants and talent competitions, victory comes with fame that people can peddle into some measure of worldly success. The previous winner, William Masvinu, had held the title since 2012 and had used his title to get a few marketing contracts.
Sere hopes to use his title to break into television. He already makes his living by going around to local schools “showcasing [his] ugliness,” so it’s possible that the added fame will help.
Are Ugly Teeth an Unfair Advantage?
The previous winner, who had hoped to take home the title again this year, objected that it was unfair to let someone win because they had ugly teeth, claiming that contestants should be “naturally ugly.” There is some potential justification to this argument in the language of the contest’s initial rules, stating that disabilities and enhancements couldn’t be considered in the judging criteria.
But if should be noted that poor teeth aren’t a disability and they certainly aren’t an enhancement, though they may give contestants an unfair advantage because unattractive teeth do evoke a powerful, visceral reaction. It’s hard to look at unattractive teeth and not be impacted by them.
How Do You Feel about Your Smile?
Most of us certainly wouldn’t aspire to trying to win a “Mr. Ugly” competition (though you may have your chance in 2017, if plans for a Mr. Ugly World competition takes off), so ugly teeth don’t have any real positive value.
Instead, ugly teeth can make us feel very self-conscious about our appearance, making us reluctant to smile and more likely to avoid social situations. We dream of an attractive smile.