Oh, Reddit, Reddit on the 'net, who’s the ugliest user yet? That's the question being asked on the “Am I Ugly?” subreddit, a thread that lets users post photos of themselves and receive the instant, unfiltered opinions of thousands of faceless strangers. With over 43,000 readers ready to report back to you on everything from your haircut to your face shape to your sense of style, this has all the ingredients to become one of the most intimidating corners of the Internet. That’s why I was shocked to discover that the thread is actually kind of...uplifting.
To get to the heartwarming segments of this subreddit, you first need to delve beyond the bleak submission titles. The vast majority of them sound like Dear Diedre submissions, with headings like: “Quite self conscious,” “Curious,” and “Just a guy wanting to know where he stands.” Others read more like disclaimers: “Mega baby-face,” “Tall and mad skinny,” and “Ginger so people always see Ron Weasley.” (Knowing how Rupert Grint blossomed throughout the filming of the Harry Potter series, I’m convinced “Ron Weasley” is a complimentary comparison).
Once you wade through this initial pool of despondency, you’ll encounter the more encouraging side of the site. As a general rule, users seem to adhere to the old adage “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” People who are deemed attractive receive far more replies than others.
The same applies to anyone with two X chromosomes. Likely due to the overwhelmingly male user-based of Reddit, women receive far more comments on their photos — and typically kinder ones — than males do. As one male Reddit user, dkota 94, explains: “All of the girls, even if they are ugly, get drooled all over. I feel like guys on this subreddit feel like they have a chance with them or something.”
“So true,” added another male user with the delightful username SROTIEMCBOOGERBALLS. “Some obvious 5-6's are 8-9 ratings and it's completely ridiculous. What's the point of this sub if every single girl is getting rated >8?”
These less-than-flattering descriptions aside, some Reddit users have found the “Am I Ugly” subreddit to be an encouraging experience. One “Young Mommy” who says her self-confidence has plummeted since giving birth received comments like “Beautiful face. Love your eyes” and “MILF!”
One 22-year-old woman who said she felt like a tomboy received an abundance of compliments about her freckles and face structure. Another young woman was told she resembled a cross between Anne Hathaway and Lorde (I'm not sure how that cross would play out, but I definitely wouldn’t be complaining).
A male user who said he'd received "ewww no" reactions from two female passersby earlier this week was inundated with compliments and flattering comparisons. One user even suggested he must've misunderstood those women's reactions because of his own low self-esteem. That's some reasonable rediquette.
That said, it's not all "rainbows and butterflies and anonymous people aren't here to protect your precious feelings," as Reddit user thebitchrake explained in one thread about public responses to the subreddit. Users often shoot for honesty and, unfortunately, it’s this “constructive criticism” that's the hardest to swallow. Seeing comments like "your face is fine" or "you'd be alright if you lost weight" receive the hearty reply "gee thanks!" can really pull at the heartstrings... As can the endless streams of doe-eye bathroom selfies.