Ugly Betty's superpower

2016-10-12 06:00

Johannesburg - Betty (America Ferrera) is an ugly duckling who’s ruffling feathers among the peacocks of New York’s fashion scene in sitcom Ugly Betty (2006-2010; all four seasons are available on internet TV service ShowMax). 

We can’t help but root for this under-duck – a plain Jane with a beautiful mind who breaks the mould. So what if she has werewolf eyebrows, a smile like a cheese grater with those braces and a wardrobe that a church raffle would reject? 

Her determination and passion lets her peck her way to her dream job at fashion magazine MODE and when you have swag like Betty, you make your own rules. 

Redefining beauty

Betty’s not the perfect fit for a world that values beauty above all. "The second you get to know her though, she's beautiful," says executive producer Silvio Horta. Ferrera adds, “Betty aspires to succeed in a world she doesn’t fit in, but with her optimism, intelligence and confidence, she not only succeeds, she affects change in others!” 

The series is packed with moments where Betty’s confidence wins the day, like…

1. In episode 1, Bradford Meade (Alan Dale) is the first to see something special in former ice cream shop worker Betty – admittedly it’s that she’s so unattractive that he assumes his editor-in-chief son Daniel (Eric Mabius) wouldn’t flirt with her if she was his PA. The joke’s on them – once Betty has her foot (and sensible shoes) in the door, those Meades won’t know what kicked them! 

2. For her first day at MODE in episode 1, Betty arrives in a red poncho to match her big, red-framed glasses. The staff reel in shock at the fashion faux pas, but Betty’s Latina pride makes a fashion statement that the insecure models can’t match. Her silhouettes, floral motifs and colour choices celebrate her identity as a Latina. 

3. Fashion people spend lunch chowing down on air. From day 1, Betty eats delicious home-cooked food in the office. Not only nutritious, it wins the heart of MODE’s seamstress Christina (Ashley Jensen). 

4. In season 1 episode 7, Betty visits a hotel to write a review and arrives at the posh hotel restaurant in her poufy, powder-blue prom dress. It’s about matching the spirit of the occasion, not the dress code! 

5. Betty takes another step towards making her fantasy world a concrete reality in season 2 episode 3 when she joins a writing class, since MODE isn’t giving her the writing experience she wanted. That’s how to think outside of MODE’s big, clear perspex box!

6. Betty looks at how fashion’s skinny empire harms little girls in season 2 episode 11 and takes on the industry to convince Daniel to put on a plus-size model show during Fashion Week. And she even takes to the catwalk in what turns out to be a hit runway show. Her confidence is infectious.

7. Betty not only has the belief to choose work over love in season 3 episode 1, she treats herself to a holiday roadtrip, filling herself with inspiration and reminding us that loving and doing what’s right for ourselves isn’t selfish.

8. Betty uses a butterfly motif in her clothing and in season 4 episode 2, she puts together everything she’s learnt in her years at MODE for a DIY makeover. As for her “cocoon”, she frames that infamous poncho and hangs it on her office wall. Betty has the courage to transform at her own pace while still loving who she was.

9. In season 4 episode 17, tooth fairy Kathy Najimy shows Betty what her life would’ve been like with perfect teeth. Betty’s subconscious is telling her that being the cutthroat, ambitious beautiful sister would’ve been a nightmare. She knows she had to build that confidence by fighting people’s expectations daily.

10. And in the series finale, season 4 episode 20, Wilhelmina expresses admiration after Betty reveals that she’s moving to London, telling Betty, “You’ve got balls, Betty Suarez.” The respect of an enemy is tastier than the love of Daniel – and worth fighting for.

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*This article is sponsored. Channel24 is part of Media24, a subsidiary of Naspers. 

(Photos supplied)

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