Ugly Duckling Syndrome

What is Ugly Duckling Syndrome?

Unusual or disproportionate appearance in childhod often to be taunted and provide a feeling of unfortunate in a child mind. The ugly appearance may eradicate with adulthood and person become a beautiful appearance. But due to ugly look deeply embedded in the emergent brain during childhood protect to accept the view about the present appearance. This often leads to downfall during adulthood. This mental downfall is termed as Ugly Duckling Syndrome1.

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The Ugly Duckling Syndrome concept develops from a famous fairy tale “The Ugly Duckling”, written by Hans Christian Andersen. In this story, Author narrates a story of a duckling who did not get social acceptance due to his ugly look. He tried to join his fellow ducklings for swimming, playing, but his fellow ducklings never asked him to join in their group.

But when this duckling was grown up he becomes a beautiful swan, who can get easy social acceptance. But due to avoidance behavior in his childhood restrict him to mingle with his fellow friends.
The Ugly Duckling Syndrome concept is developed from the above mentioned summarized story2.

Sign and Its Impact

These are some common sign of Ugly Duckling Syndrome, which often has impact on developing a beautiful appearance in adult life.

Difficulty in accepting compliment

Compliment for appearance often makes hesitation and usual reparations are feeling uncomfortable, reprimand with a self- offensive statement or believing the compliment is false.

Unresolved reason of jealousy

It is quite usual that often others feel jealousy due to your beautiful look. But due to Ugly Duckling Syndrome, the affected individual often unable understand the reason behind the jealousness. Often affected individuals blame themselves for lost or undeveloped friendships.

Non-desirable person

In a social gathering or in office party the affected individual often behaves as a conversationalist and he/ she set their mind that he/she is a non-desirable person. Therefore, the interaction with others always restricted in a naive chat, not a pick-up approach. When anyone shows any favor to them, like asking phone number or paying the bill in a restaurant, they feel shocked.

Feeling of insult if opposite sex stares them

Normally staring of opposite sex provide a feeling of compliment, but Ugly Duckling Syndrome affected individual feels insulted. They become defensive and avoid to eye contact with the opponent.

Unawareness of your self-beauty

You (the affected individual) unaware about the self-beauty. people often considered them a poor vision, as they unable to notice their own beauty. The looks often they got, they may confuse as it is their insult or not on their radar.

The power of beauty is unutilized

The beautiful appearance has tremendous power, as every individual passionate about a beautiful person. Even realization of self beauty also provide inner confidence, enhance smartness. But often Ugly Duckling Syndrome affected individual unable to use the power of beauty. They feel shy, lack of confidence during conversation to others.

Phobia to put on makeup

Ugly Duckling Syndrome affected individuals feel comfortable being a simple, makeup-free person. But They feel anxious and nervous or phobic to go any party or special occasion where beauty is expected. The resultant of this is a neurotic mess, which can be explained as nothing to wear, feeling of pathetic hairstyle or put on makeup cause devil.

Immorality to use leverage of beauty

Ugly Duckling Syndrome affected individuals has an immoral feeling of Beautiful women who leverage their beauty. The deep feeling of moral correctness causes head spinning and tummy feeling nauseous.

Value for inner beauty

Ugly Duckling Syndrome affected individuals have believed in inner beauty, instead of external beauty. This believes develops from childhood, as they are not having external beauty at their childhood age, but in adulthood when they become beautiful, then also unable to change their beliefs and expect the whole world should maintain the same.

High expectations from friends and close ones

Ugly Duckling Syndrome affected individuals have expectations from friends, family and close ones. They unable to find their loved ones easily based on their popularity or appearance. They always search for the person who has greater value in their life. The expectation from friends, loves ones are much more.

Take strong action against misbehavior upon weaker person

Ugly Duckling Syndrome affected individuals transform easily and stand as any protective figure and try to take necessary action to uphold human rights when they observe weak personnel being humiliated or bullied by stronger individuals.

Ugly Duckling Syndrome affected individuals may share their thoughts with their friends or close ones, but tries to maintain their privacy. They always try to keep space for themselves and they used to pass some alone time.

Inspire by Beautiful Person

Ugly Duckling Syndrome affected individuals also get inspiration from another beautiful person. They enjoy a fashion show and may make some role model depending upon their image and external look.

Wish to be beautiful

Ugly Duckling Syndrome affected individuals usually have an inner wish to become beautiful, however, they unable to realizing they already are1,3.


No artificial beauty therapy require implementing, as Ugly Duckling Syndrome affected individuals are already beautiful. Effective counseling helps to make them aware of their beauty without hurting them.

It is also recommended that family, friends and close ones make them feel confident so that their feelings do not dominate their behavior1.


  1. 14 Lasting Side Effects Of Growing Up As The Ugly Duckling;
    Elite Daily; Retrieve from
  2. Scott Barry Kaufman, (2008); The Nature of Genius II: On Late Bloomers and Ugly Ducklings; Retrieve from
  3. Are You Suffering from Ugly Duckling Syndrome? (2014); Joanna-James- Lynn; Retrieve from

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