Italy is known for its delicious food, lush landscapes, and beautiful people. The country is also home to the beautiful town of Piobbico, near the Adriatic sea.
With a population of 2,000 people, Piobbico's natural beauty doesn't stop it from celebrating "ugliness."
Where most of us are used to celebrating beautiful people and surroundings, Piobbico began the custom of celebrating ugliness in 1879. The town hosts the Club dei Brutti ("The Ugly Club") since then, per the BBC.
A Worldwide Phenomenon
Chapters of The Ugly Club have sprung up all over the world and become a spectacle. Today there are 25 branches comprising 30,000 members and calls itself the Worldwide Association of Ugly People.
You're probably aware that beauty pageants judge people on attractiveness, members of this association are judged on their ugliness.
Prospective members who want to join are ranked on their ugliness on scales from "meh" to "extremely ugly." But the club insists that it's all good fun, as senior members in charge of judging ugliness focus on a person's inner beauty instead.
A Club That Began For Women
The Ugly Club initially began as a service to help ugly women find a husband. Criteria for joining obviously loosened up as time passed. Today the Ugly Club revels in the fun of shunning the idea of going against standards of beauty that ascribe power to those who are beautiful on the outside. Members insist that inner beauty is important too.
Piobbico has recognized The Ugly Club by erecting a statue in the club's honor in 2007, and locals take the message of inner beauty and body positivity in stride.
Worldwide Ugliness Every September
Members of the Worldwide Association of Ugly People descend on Piobbico every September to celebrate their ugliness in the now-annual Festival of the Ugly.
Not only do members enjoy delicious pasta and truffles, but they also choose their new president and initiate new members. The loose organization has attracted new members, sociologists, and scholars who want to change the discourse on what it means to be perceived as ugly today.
The festival is known to be fun for attendees and to help them celebrate themselves as they are. Maybe that's why several former Miss Italys have also attended—even conventionally attractive people want to let go of societal expectations once in a while.
An "Ugly" Festival In An Unlikely Place
Italians are known worldwide for their sense of style, fashion, and exaltation of all things beautiful. There is even a term for making a great first impression on people "bella figura."
The Ugly Festival is an anomaly in a country where classic beauty, architecture, and surroundings are the norm. Considering that ugly people are often ostracized in society because of standards over which they have no control, it's wonderful that The Ugly Club has resonated with so many members for generations. The friendships and connections people make there are a thing of real beauty.