Against all odds




This picture is no purpose-driven publicity effort to popularize Pope Francis. This, instead, challenges us to redefine what being ‘beauty’ and ‘ugly’ truly means. It is solely a small reminder, knocking the doors of our hearts, to come out of our limited, Euclidean, fixedly defined mindsets that constrain our visions, and of how easily prejudiced we are, as normal human beings.

Benjamin Corn, an Israeli-based neurofibromatosis expert, voices out his further opinions on Quartz. Read the full article here.


Ugliness is not an absolute condition but a socially sanctioned attribute. The problem with consigning something to that far, negative end of the spectrum is that ugliness can incite stigma. Art historian H.W. Janson says that modern definitions of beauty took root in the masters of the High Renaissance. In 1486, Botticelli’s painting of The Birth of Venus established a standard of features. Perpetuated over time by illustrators, marketers, members of the media, the standard—of flawless skin, golden locks, bodies at once buxom and taut—has served as a basis for Western ideals of beauty and, conversely, ugliness.

Because our aesthetic standards are arbitrary, our definitions of beauty have shifted slightly, over time, to encompass, for example, anorexic-appearing fashion models with little resemblance to the shapeliness of Botticelli’s Goddess of Beauty. There is one vital point in that dynamic: the arbitrary—including our ideas of what is beautiful, ugly, visually acceptable, or socially stigmatizing—can change. And each of us can contribute to that change.
Note: neurofibromatosis is a rare genetic disease by which NF1, a gene specialized in guarding our body cells from becoming cancerous, unexpectedly disappears or mutates, thus enabling those cells to grow beyond control, resulting in myriad tumors widely spread over the bodies of those exposed to such condition.