Not Ugly, Just less Attractive

Pearls of wisdom from beyond the grave

Tommy Ueland
3 min readJul 13, 2020


Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

My grandmother, rest her soul, was born in 1915. She died in 2012. 96 year old. She was not only my Mor(we called her Mor, that’s Mother in English) but also my best friend and third parent.

I‘ve had many serious talks with Mor over the years. And she is one of the main reasons I am the way I am. For good, not the bad stuff, that’s someone else's fault, probably Donald J. Trump.

She early told me this:

Don’t call anyone ugly, just less attractive.

I started this post with my grandmother's year of birth. I did this so you can understand that she wasn’t always politically correct. She dodged german bullets in 1944 when her husband, my grandfather, was sitting in a concentration camp while she raised six kids. That’s another level of tough, and she wasn’t afraid to say what she meant, no bullshit or filters. For good and bad. Mostly good.

I have always thought that saying someone was less attractive was the same as saying someone was ugly, just wrapped in a see-through paper. But it is dawning on me that she was smarter than I gave her credit for.

For some reason, that lesson has been milling in my head the last two or three months and I haven’t quite understood why. But the other day it hit me.

I know now what she meant.

Attraction is in the eye of the beholder

Why didn’t she just say that in the first place? Remember I was a kid when she told me. I wasn’t able to grasp the true meaning of attraction is in the eye of the beholder. But the sentence: Don’t call anyone ugly, just less attractive, was understandable. Even if it took 30 more years before I really understood the full meaning of it.

What’s attractive for me isn’t necessarily attractive to you. I might get attracted by humor, by how the left eyelid hangs a little lower than the right. Or the way someone is laughing, smiling with crooked teeth, or the way they care for people around them.

I am a writer, and if there’s something I have been constantly hammered with from editors and coaches it is this: Never write that someone is pretty. The reader…



Tommy Ueland

Father, writer, aspiring blogger, connoisseur of everyday joy and professional procrastinator.