Susannah Otter, editorial director at Bonnier Books UK's Blink Publishing, has acquired world rights for Ugly by Anita Bhagwandas from Emma Finn at C&W after a five-publisher auction.
In Ugly, the beauty journalist will ask why our lives are shaped by such limited ideas about beauty, the damage they can do, and how to break free of them for a happier, more inclusive future, said the publisher.
The synopsis explains: "A melding of history, pop culture, psychology and memoir, the book will examine where our beauty standards come from and how they shape what we see when we look in the mirror. It will also feature Anita’s own journey of growing up in South Wales, and her experience as a plus-sized, dark skinned woman of colour of working in an industry which, in her words, ‘never loved her back’."
Blink Publishing will publish the title in spring 2022, supported by a "top-tier" publicity, marketing and social media campaign alongside events across the country.
Otter said: "In a world of Instagram filters and fillers, we are all crying out for something to guide us through the very modern paradox of being told to love ourselves while also finding that perfect natural angle for a selfie. In Ugly, Anita unpicks the corrosive allure of the beauty myth, still all-too-prevalent over 20 years after we first noticed its dragging weight around our necks. Having loved her writing for many years, I’m absolutely delighted to have her on the Blink list."
Bhagwandas commented: "We've all had those moments. The ones where you look in the mirror and nothing feels OK looking back at you. For me, that started when I was a child and created an enduring internal torment about my looks. We’re told that this sadness is just part of ‘being a woman’. We’re encouraged to obsess over it and go to any length to change it, but we’re also ordered to ‘just love ourselves’ from every corner of the internet. But when I started uncovering where these beauty standards started, unpicking why they’ve been perpetuated and unmasking how they’re still being upheld; I felt my sadness alleviate and a sense of injustice start to rise up. This book is about how to finally break free from those limiting beauty standards, because feeling ugly has nothing to do with us."
Bhagwandas is a journalist, social commentator, broadcaster and diversity advocate with over 10 years' experience working for Women’s Health, Marie Claire and, most recently, as beauty director for Stylist.