Jolie Laide: When She’s Both a Beauty and a Beast

Jolie laide is a French expression, directly translated as “beautiful ugly”, and is used to describe someone who is unconventionally attractive. Not everyone who’s called jolie laide is impressive to me, but I have my personal favorites. Unlike my “Most Beautiful Women” list, these are not what I’d consider the best examples of beauty. But perfect beauty can become boring too, and then, it becomes more fun to look at someone who’s beautifully flawed and special. Fat women don’t count as “jolie laide” in my mind, as fat in itself is not a flaw to my eye.

1.PJ Harvey

She’s more jolie than laide, but often looks tiny and bony. But she’s an artist and for an artist, looking a bit odd pays.



She has a beastly voice too (in a good way, lol):

2.Tilda Swinton


You’ve probably seen this strange, alien-like woman in movies and fashion magazines (if you read them). She looks like David Bowie, and David Bowie looks like her. Perhaps because she’s a bit masculine, and he’s a bit feminine. But actually, she has rather feminine features with wide-set eyes, long neck and small jaw. And it becomes obvious she’s somewhat conventionally pretty when she has long hair:

Tilda Swinton

3.Serena Williams



She’s pretty scary, and even makes Kim Kardashian look slender and small.


But she’s also R. Crumb’s “dream girl”, and that guy has good taste.

4.Heather Matarazzo

If you’re a horror movie fan, you might have seen her in the second Hostel movie, where she meets a gory end. If you like seriousness movies, you might have seen her in Welcome to the Dollhouse, where she plays a loser teen. She’s kind of geeky-looking, but that kind of appearance has its charm.

Heather Matarazzo-SGY-001549


5.Shelley Duvall

Shelley Duvall


Most known for her role as Wendy in the Shining. Another geeky-looking woman. I don’t understand why some people think she’s ugly. I think she’s gorgeous.


Nichole is one of those Youtube personalities who seem a little “different” and sing popsongs, usually badly. These people have their share of fans, although they are also frequently made fun of. Nichole is probably the best looking of them, and also the least badly singing (still it isn’t great, but autotune solves everything).

Nichole 2

Nichole 3

(After she had surgery, it’s still the same person)

7.Frida Kahlo

Like PJ harvey, she’s a great artist, and thus could get away with having a moustache and a monobrow. But strangely, they fit her.


Frida Kahlo 02


What do you think of the concept of jolie laide? Real? Rare? Just an invention for ugly women to feel pretty?.. Provide your favorite jolie laide examples if you think it’s real 🙂

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20 Responses to Jolie Laide: When She’s Both a Beauty and a Beast

  1. Yeah, no.
    Just another attempt at women that can’t compete believing that they can.

  2. Eric says:

    Well, I have to say that the ones in the photographs leaned very strongly to the ‘laide’ side of things. But I think I understand where you’re going.

    We have an expression in America ‘niche woman’ or ‘niche beauty’. This is a type of girl who most men would say is ‘cute’, but some men see them as radiantly beautiful because of the femininity they project. In contrast, I’ve seen beautiful women who don’t appeal to me, because I just sense something ‘off’ about them (probably a lack of femininity coming from within). But it’s a very subjective thing with most men.

    That’s what I think of when I hear a term like ‘jolie laide’.

    • emmatheemo says:

      I agree – the jolie laide thing is very personal. I think some describe it as “She isn’t objectively beautiful, but is still attractive” or “I shouldn’t be that attracted to her, but I am” (heard a man say it before). And some men are jolie laid too, although it’s hard to tell if a male celebrity is considered hot because of fame, his art or his weird looks.

      • Eric says:

        I think you’re right—I think it also works the other way, I’ve occasionally thought “I should be attracted to her, but I’m not.” There are various celebrities like that—I can’t put my finger on it, but something about them just doesn’t resonate.

        On another I had a discussion with the moderator about pop star Ariana Grande. She might be a good example of that kind of ‘niche woman’. Actually, on paper, she’s somewhat average, though for some reason I think she’s really attractive. The moderator agreed that she is ‘cute’ but said ‘there was just something about her that turns me off.’

        LOL—so it is very subjective.

      • emmatheemo says:

        It’s true about not finding someone good-looking, although they are supposed to be. I have this feeling about Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. On the other hand, Amber Heard looks somewhat like her, but looks way better to me.

      • emmatheemo says:

        Btw, I think part of niche appear might be due to the behavior/image of the woman. I know the manosphere likes to say a woman’s looks are 100% of her appeal, but not all men agree. I think it helps if a girl either seems sweetly feminine, or sexual, or passionate (to each man his own). So perhaps when I hear PJ Harvey sing about “ecstasy” and passionate obsession, it sounds hot and ads to her appeal, even if she’ average. This effect might not help an ugly girl, but I think it might help an average one. On the other hand, behavior can make someone seem grosser, too :/ It goes both ways.

  3. Liz says:

    Fun thread, Emma! 🙂
    I think Anjelica Huston tops the list.
    Also Bette Davis, and Jean Harlow. Probably Joan Crawford too.

    • Eric says:

      Yes, the last three are good examples of that phenomenon.

      Joan Crawford (in her younger days) average looking but I found her attractive.

      Bette Davis (in her younger days) cute but I didn’t find her appealing.

      Jean Harlow: found her quite appealing.

    • emmatheemo says:

      Ah, Morticia 🙂 I remember her, and agree.

      I like both Bette Davis and Joan Crowford. Not too familiar with Jean Harlow, but find her a bit boyish-looking : / I guess to me she is more “cute” rather than jolie laide.

      I forgot to include this singer: Can’t get enough of her voice 🙂

  4. FuriousFerret says:

    What about Bjork:

  5. FuriousFerret says:

    The thing about PJ Harvey is that she cultivates her uniqueness to achieve graceful beauty. I think she’s a very pretty woman that transcends plain biological beauty by being exceptionally talented.

    She’s actually a very good example how modern woman say they want to act but never even attempt to do. She’s accomplished but is articulate and has femininity realized instead of a girl playing at being a man.

    Also you have to keep in mind her photos on albums are done for artistic value and not to put her in the most attractive light possible. Look at some her shots where she’s more dolled up.

    Check out her interview. Very calm and intelligent. No brashness. An English Rose.

    • emmatheemo says:

      That’s true too. She likes to have some “ugly” pictures of herself, as well as pretty ones. And I totally agree that if women wanted to transcend biological beauty, they would do something like that. I remember a very “shallow” guy told me how she watched an obese girl play the piano. “We always thought she was ugly, but when she played, she was beautiful to us”. Of course, it’s not the same as attraction, but it’s still effective in its own way.

  6. trugingstar says:

    1. Do you like trip hop?
    2. Would you ever say “WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPAAAAAAAAAAAA” at random on a given blog? Because that would be awesome.

  7. Exfernal says:

    I won’t comment about others, but if comes to the #5, it’s most likely about her bulging eyes.

  8. Sam says:

    Favorite P J Harvey video

  9. Sam says:

    This is probably not exactly what you’re talking about but…Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted ,

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