unconventional beauty (man)

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woorijip

Member
USA English
Hi.

I'm wondering if someone can confirm what the correct masculine forms for "belle laide" and "jolie laide" in French would be? These adjectives for "unconventional beauty" seem mostly used to describe women, but I know I have seen them applied to men before. (Maybe Jean-Paul Belmondo?)
For some reason, I doubt it would be "bel laid" but "joli laide" feels correct. For men, would one of these two be more commonly heard for men, whereas for women both are used?

Thanks for any help. I tried googling a definitive answer to no avail.
 
  • Lezert

    Senior Member
    french, France
    maybe "belle laide" or "jolie laide" have been used for "conventionnal beauty" in a movie, but it was a poetic licence. These expressions are not commonly used.
    If you want to change it to the masculine voice, it should be "beau laid" and "joli laid"
     

    doinel

    Senior Member
    France French
    Really, I don't understand.
    When you mention J P Belmondo, what do you mean?
    His looks were quite unconventional but he was handsome in his own way...
    Sure, I don't understand your question...
     

    woorijip

    Member
    USA English
    Belmondo is an example of a rough-hewn attractiveness, thus "beautiful ugly", or beau laid. A friend of mine who studies French corrected my mistake of 'bel' and reminded me of the 'beau'. I think studying Spanish has corrupted what I remember of French!

    He also cautioned me in using the terms at all, implying that they now sound "old-fashioned". He said that for men, one would only use beau laid and for women jolie laide.

    So perhaps this wonderful fusion of opposites isn't used at all anymore in common speech. Does anyone looking at this thread know of another turn of phrase in French that expresses being "ugly but beautiful"? I don't think Spanish ever developed such a concept and in English we've borrowed the phrase as an affect.

    Thanks!
     

    xtrasystole

    Senior Member
    France
    Maybe: 'Il n'est pas beau mais il a une laideur intéressante'.

    Also: 'Il n'est pas beau mais il a de la gueule'.
     

    Rouleau

    Senior Member
    English United States
    Woorijip, as an American English speaker, I have read, heard, and used the term "jolie laide" to describe women. For some reason, it was used often to describe the 80's cultural personage, Sandra Bernhart (sp?). I'd apply it to men like Mick Jagger. I'm sure I've heard it applied to men if only because the French revolutionary on whom I almost wrote my dissertation, Camille Desmoulins, was described in this way.
     

    woorijip

    Member
    USA English
    Yes, I googled Camille and found a reference to this publication:
    Cinq dames de cœur et une jolie laide by Chambrun, Marie de Rohan-Chalot comtesse de.

    What's dawning on me is that it's not really used in French or in English, except by someone like me! I suppose it has to be used for great affect....pointed usage that presupposes that someone has heard it used before. That's too bad, because it's such a great concept and I wish it could be used in French, Spanish and English.

    This all started when I asked a Spanish friend how one says 'jolie laide" in Spanish and she said a comparable turn of phrase didn't exist.
    http://openlibrary.org/a/OL643641A
     
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