ShortList is supported by you, our amazing readers. When you click through the links on our site and make a purchase we may earn a commission. Learn more

What makes a man ugly?

We went to cosmetic surgeons, Hollywood agents, vocal coaches, stylists and cartoonists with one question

What makes a man ugly?
Danielle de Wolfe
29 September 2016

We went to cosmetic surgeons, Hollywood agents, vocal coaches, stylists and cartoonists with one question: what makes a man ugly?

Here's how they responded...

The five most requested cosmetic procedures for men, according to Harley St consultants

Man boobs

Dr Dennis Wolf, cosmetic doctor at The Private Clinic

“Advancements in technology mean we can treat men with conditions such as gynecomastia – the enlargement of male breast tissue. It affects more than 15 per cent of adult men in the UK. As you can imagine, it can significantly affect self-esteem. There’s a greater understanding of the treatment options available – and less of a stigma attached to it."

Tummy Fat

Dr Wolf

“It’s now incredibly common to treat men in their late fifties and early sixties. These are men who’ve maintained healthy, active lifestyles but have reached an age where exercise and diet alone might not be enough to maintain the body shape and contour they once had. For them, Vaser liposuction allows them to achieve the look they’d like, without the need to undergo major surgery.”


Dr Wolf

“Hair transplants are among the most common requests we receive. It’s become much more accessible for men. The advancement of follicular unit extraction means that transplants can now be delivered under local anaesthetic, without the need for a hospital stay or lengthy recovery time. Patients can often leave the clinic on the day of treatment and return to work.”

Hairy chest

Samantha Scott, clinic manager at The Private Clinic

“The majority of our male clients tend to have darker and denser patches of hair on the upper body – shoulders and upper chest are extremely common areas to treat. Men can feel exposed or embarrassed if they have very thick or dark hair, particularly in the summer months. Others look to reduce the amount of hair on their body simply because they find it more aesthetically pleasing.”

Veiny legs

Constantinos Kyriakides, consultant vascular surgeon at The Private Clinic

“There’s a common misconception that varicose veins only affect women. In reality, between 25 and 30 per cent of men are affected by them too. I see men in their early twenties, through to those in their sixties and seventies. Many of them are uncomfortable showing their legs in public, particularly those whose veins are very severe.”

The bullsh*t of Hollywood ugly

Speaking to the people behind the most fickle faces in Hollywood

The Casting Director: “There are only ugly personalities”

Amanda Tabak, Candid Casting

“We think of actors as playing unpleasant personalities, which manifests itself as an ugly character. In a film I cast last year, the two lead characters had particularly unpleasant personalities and the two actors we found were the most attractive-looking pair in the film. Really stunning. It made them seem even uglier, because they had all the advantages that come with being attractive and still chose to be bad.”

The Modelling Exec: “Perfection is a lie”

Matt Busbridge, Elite Model Management

“Outside the industry, it’s a slippery slope to make physical appearance the main attraction. There’s a huge pressure on men to have a perfect body, but perfection doesn’t really exist because it means something different to everyone. It’s a lie. As you get older, things such as ways of dressing and music taste become less important. Instead, natural charm, eye contact and self-confidence are attractive propositions.”

The Acting Coach: “It’s all about honesty”

Rory Feeney, acting tutor

“Malicious characters may try to hide their feelings, but it is at this deep level that ‘ugliness’ will be rooted. The issue is not about what body language could be perceived as ‘ugly’, but simply about honesty. If a character is open, then their body language will portray how they feel. If, however, a character is hiding something, then they will be interfering with the connection between their feelings and their body language. This, in acting, is where ugliness comes from.”

Being hot and ginger aren't mutually exclusive

Photographer Thomas Knights on the redhead renaissance

We photographed 100 redheaded guys, but most of them weren’t confident. They’d feel really uncomfortable – they’d never felt sexy in their life.

TV and film played a huge part in this attitude. Someone along the way made a decision that redheaded men didn’t look masculine enough. It became a stereotype to cast them as ugly, or the bully. And it’s become ingrained in our culture.

Things are improving, thanks to guys like Prince Harry and Damian Lewis. When a member of the Royal family gets classed as sexy, it’s a good sign.

That’s what I tried to do with my book Red Hot – make it cool to be ginger. Now we’re beginning to notice the celebration of being different and that is something to celebrate.

What makes a man sound ugly?

Because it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it...

“When it comes to sexual attractiveness, the voice is easily as important as what you put in your hair or what you wear,” says leadership communication specialist Helen Sewell of Simply Speaking, who coaches everyone from CEOs to radio broadcasters on making their voices more appealing. “It’s really important, because it’s one of the things that can mark out a male as a provider.”

After all, we ain’t nothing but mammals. Across the animal kingdom, critters use their calls to ward off foes and seduce mates. And according to Professor Yi Xu, of University College London’s School Of Speech, Hearing & Phonetic Sciences, we humans are no different. Our voices, his research shows, indicate our stature, and therefore our suitability as a mate.

“In order to project size, there are three aspects of the voice that we can control,” says Professor Xu. “The first is pitch. The lower the pitch, the larger the body size. The second is vocal-tract length, which manifests itself as deep bass or high treble. When a boy has a large injection of testosterone during puberty, his larynx is lowered and his vocal tract is lengthened. The final thing is voice quality, which ranges from rough to breathy. The larger the animal, the rougher the voice.”

The pitch

So to come over like a total hard nut, your voice should be deep, bassy and rough – think Jason Statham. Intimidating? Yes. Sexy? Not so much. “That is a very angry voice. For the male voice to be sexually attractive, it needs to be low-pitched, with a long vocal tract, but with the magic parameter of breathiness, which softens the voice.”

Scientifically speaking then, what is the sexiest male voice? “Joey Tribbiani in Friends, specifically his pick-up line, ‘How you doin’?’ There he is doing everything right: low pitch, lengthened vocal tract and breathy voice,” says Professor Xu.

Keep it low

All well and good if you were lucky enough to be born with a butter-smooth baritone timbre, but even if your voice is more Jar Jar Binks than Marvin Gaye, there’s hope for you yet. You can (and, by all accounts, should) manipulate your voice to make yourself more attractive. You may not look like a big, hunky man, but you can sound like one.

“To get yourself a richer or a deeper voice, try using your abdominal muscles,” says voice coach Sewell. “When you breathe in, 75 per cent of the air that you take in should press down on your diaphragm, which is a big dome-shaped muscle underneath your ribcage. Then contract your abdominal muscles and pump your sound out.” To practise, exhale sharply as if blowing out a candle. That feeling, that tension in your abs, is what you want to recreate when you make your vowel sounds. Sure, it might give the impression that you’ve been punched in the stomach, but that, friend, is the sound of the sexy new you.

How to make a politician look ugly

Daily Telegraph political cartoonist Bob Moran on how he makes his subjects look like idiots

Michael Gove

“His face is a huge gift hamper for a cartoonist. He’s got big bulging cheeks, a big fishlike mouth and then on top of that he wears glasses with thick frames. Gove has quite distinctive hair: he’s got a wave on top, but it doesn’t come down over his forehead. I do often wonder what Michael Gove thinks he looks like.”

Boris Johnson

“You always start with the hair. His eyes are quite close together and he’s got slanting brows, almost like they’ve been squashed in towards the top of his nose. He’s actually got quite a big nose but it’s in the middle of a really large face. I tend to draw Boris’s mouth making a kind of ‘Oo’ shape.”

Nigel Farage

“Farage is interesting because he has a good face to caricature and he has good props; the pint of beer and the tweed coat. One thing I’d say about Farage is the gap between his upper lip and his nose is very big; he’s got that muppet look.”

The brutal truth

We asked some women 'what makes a man ugly?'

1. What makes a man ugly is bad posture.

2. Bad shoes.

3. An underbite.

4. Very thick straight hair that stands up on end.

5. Stretchy toenails and mouth wash breath.

6. Hips and a girly bum. Hips are the domain of us females.

7. Complete hairlessness really creeps me out.