Susan Boyle’s 20 Media Euphemisms

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


A Lexis-Nexis search turns up 952 articles concerning Britain’s Got Talent Superstar, Susan Boyle. Why? She’s got a smoking singing voice, but she’s not-hot, and that’s touched a cultural nerve. We are shallow. We don’t want to be shallow. Or at least, we don’t want people to know how very shallow we are. But we can’t talk about how shallow we are without mentioning how not-hot Susan Boyle is and how we wrote her off because of her not-hottitude. Right?

So. How many colorful euphemisms can the media come up with? Lots—see 20 below.

1. “The plain Jane superstar,” in a Daily News article about an offer from a porn company to put Boyle in an adult film. (It plans to fly her to L.A. on Virgin Airlines.)

2. “Like Shrek come to life,” Rosie O’Donnell to People magazine.

3. “Frizzy-haired” from Mother Jones’s own Party Ben.

4. “Plain, dowdy, unemployed,” in New York Magazine’s round up.

5. The Age of Melbourne let an imaginary Jane Austen do the dissing and refers to her as “ill-favoured.”

 

6. “Stocky, beetle-browed,” is the word from The LA Times.

7. Susan Reimer of the Baltimore Sun writes, Boyle gives “new meaning to the description ‘frumpy.'” What was the old defintion?

8. Unleashed: A blog for animals and the people who love them” of the same Baltimore Sun writes that Boyle “makes us rethink ‘the spinster cat lady.'” Cat ladies of the world stand taller today.

9. “Hairy angel” is the phrase from the U.K.’s Daily Mail, which also mentioned her “unfortunate gait.”

10. Mark Jefferies of the Mirror writes, Susan Boyle has the voice of an angel, but a “hair-do from hell.” Do we say hair-do anymore?

11. “Drab” is the word from The Daily Star, but check out the link for the nipple-tassled Fabia, who should also be an Internet star.

12. “Matronly” is how the Chicago Tribune puts it, and quotes BGT judge Amanda Holden as saying “she just looks like anybody who could live on your street.”

13. The Washington Post went for understated with “unassuming.”

14. The New York Post gave us “ugly duckling” and “golden-throated spinster,” which has to be the most Brothers Grimm take.

15. Her fans see her as “a triumph over looks-ism and age-ism,” says the New York Times, because she’s too old and too not-good looking.

16. She’s an “underdog” because she’s not hot, says the USA Today, which reminds us that “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s like School House Rock for grown-ups. 

17. Huffington Post wins for the strangest description with “unusual-looking, weirdly-mannered outcast.” Apparently, Mark Blankenship hasn’t been to a mall recently–she’s not that unusal looking.

18. “Avatar of yearning” is Tina Brown’s take in The Daily Beast. The comment section is open to anyone who can explain that one to me.

19. “Badger in a dress” is the proud work of Wales on Sunday.

20. “A cross between Julia Child and Edith Bunker,” says The Boston Herald, which also uses the word “schlumpy.” That’s a cross between lumpy and what, exactly?

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate