In “Pretty Ugly,” a thought-provoking poem by Abdullah Shoaib, the complex interplay of self-worth, body image, and confidence is artfully explored. Crafted to inspire and empower its readers, the poem navigates the turbulent waters of self-perception and self-acceptance. It uniquely presents two contrasting perspectives on the speaker’s sense of self-worth – one that dwells in negativity and self-doubt, and the other radiating positivity and self-acceptance. This duality serves as a compelling reminder of the power of perspective in shaping our understanding of ourselves and underscores the poem’s central message of embracing one’s true self, flaws and all.
Pretty Ugly Poem
I’m very ugly
So don’t try to convince me that
I am a very beautiful person
Because at the end of the day
I hate myself in every single way
And I’m not going to lie to myself by saying
There is beauty inside of me that matters
So rest assured I will remind myself
That I am a worthless, terrible person
And nothing you say will make me believe
I still deserve love
Because no matter what
I am not good enough to be loved
And I am in no position to believe that
Beauty does exist within me
Because whenever I look in the mirror I always think
Am I as ugly as people say?
Now, to experience a shift in perspective, try reading the same words of the poem, but this time, start from the bottom and work your way up.
“Pretty Ugly” by Abdullah Shoaib is a reverse poem that uniquely explores themes of self-worth and societal beauty standards. It can be read both from top to bottom and vice versa, each direction offering a contrasting perspective. The top-to-bottom reading reveals a tone of pessimism and self-deprecation, highlighting the speaker’s struggle with societal expectations of beauty. In contrast, the bottom-to-top reading shifts to optimism, emphasizing self-acceptance and inner beauty. Comprising 17 lines in free verse and divided into four stanzas, the poem challenges traditional poetic forms and invites readers to reflect on the influence of societal norms on individual self-perception.
“Pretty Ugly” by Abdullah Shoaib is an innovative poem that deviates from traditional poetic forms, embracing a free verse style within its seventeen-line structure. This composition is notable for not adhering to any specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern, allowing a natural, conversational flow of words and ideas.
Free Verse Composition
The poem’s free verse style means that it flows without the constraints of traditional poetic meter or rhyme, giving the writer greater flexibility in expression. This style is particularly effective in conveying the raw, unfiltered emotions and thoughts of the speaker.
Reverse Poem Format
One of the most distinctive features of “Pretty Ugly” is its reverse poem structure. This innovative format allows the poem to be read both from top to bottom and from bottom to top, each direction offering a different interpretation and emotional tone. When read from top to bottom, the poem exudes a sense of pessimism and despair, reflecting the speaker’s low self-esteem and loss of hope, influenced by societal standards of beauty. Conversely, reading the poem from bottom to top transforms the narrative into one of optimism and self-affirmation. The same lines that communicated a negative self-image now convey a message of self-worth and inner beauty.
The structure of the poem deeply mirrors its themes. It challenges and reflects on the unrealistic body standards and societal expectations placed upon individuals. The dual reading nature serves as a metaphor for the varying perspectives and attitudes one can have about themselves, influenced by external and internal factors.
1. Dual Perspective on Self-Image
The most striking feature of “Pretty Ugly” is its dual reading structure. When read from top to bottom, the poem is a harrowing exploration of self-hatred and low self-esteem. The speaker views themselves as fundamentally unattractive and unworthy of love, a perspective deeply ingrained and resistant to external influence. This reading paints a bleak picture of an individual consumed by societal standards of beauty and their own perceived inadequacies. However, when read in reverse, from bottom to top, the message is dramatically transformed. The same lines that conveyed despair now offer a message of self-love, acceptance, and the irrelevance of external validation. This clever structural design highlights the power of perspective in shaping our self-image and underscores the poem’s central theme: the fluid nature of beauty and self-worth.
2. Commentary on External Validation and Internal Worth
Shoaib’s poem serves as a poignant commentary on the impact of societal standards and external validation on self-perception. In the forward reading, the speaker is overwhelmed by societal views on beauty, feeling worthless and unlovable due to their appearance. This reflects a common societal issue where individuals measure their worth based on external approval and societal beauty standards. In contrast, the reverse reading of the poem promotes an empowering message: true beauty and worth come from within, and external opinions should not dictate one’s self-esteem. This duality in the poem encourages readers to reflect on how they perceive themselves and the extent to which external validation influences their self-worth.
3. Literary Techniques Enhancing Emotional Impact
Shoaib employs various literary techniques to enhance the emotional impact of “Pretty Ugly.” The use of direct, unambiguous language in the opening lines immediately grabs the reader’s attention, setting a tone of brutal honesty about self-perception. The alliteration present in both readings, such as “beautiful” and “Because,” adds a lyrical quality that contrasts with the harshness of the subject matter. Enjambment between lines, especially evident when the poem is read in reverse, creates a seamless transition in ideas, reinforcing the poem’s message about the fluidity of self-perception. Additionally, the rhetorical question towards the end (“Am I as ugly as people say?”) serves as a powerful tool for self-reflection, both for the speaker and the reader. These techniques collectively contribute to the poem’s depth and its ability to resonate with readers on a personal level.
What People Think About This Poem
Reactions to Abdullah Shoaib’s “Pretty Ugly” on Reddit reveal diverse opinions. Some readers praised its creative reverse structure, finding it an engaging and clever aspect of the poem. Others viewed this feature as a gimmick, criticizing its simplicity and questioning its depth as a work of poetry. The poem sparked a range of responses, from admiration of its uniqueness to skepticism about its artistic merit, demonstrating the varied ways it resonated with readers.
In conclusion, while the poem “Pretty Ugly” by Abdullah Shoaib may not extensively utilize traditional artistic poetic techniques, its unique structure and the dual perspective it offers have made it a popular piece. It successfully captures the multidimensional nature of issues like self-perception and societal standards of beauty, resonating with a wide audience. This poem stands out for its ability to engage readers in a profound reflection on themes that are both personal and universal, making it a notable work in contemporary poetry.