I haven’t read E. L. James’ bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, and it’s not exactly on my list, but I have to admit I find the title evocative. Shades of grey are important in my perception of reality, and talking to people who like to draw sharp distinctions and attach great importance to what strike me as small differences of degree can bring on a kind of mental vertigo. In my world things tend to grade into each other, in the quantitative way that hills grade into mountains or the qualitative way that arquebuses grade into modern sniper rifles through a succession of evolutionary intermediates.
Beauty and ugliness, good and evil, freedom and oppression, are opposite tendencies on continua rather than clearly defined categories. Except in the simplest cases, the continua themselves represent crude and not necessarily conscious amalgamations of multiple factors, and people may have very different intuitions about which factors are important and indeed whether a given factor should be considered positive or negative. If you like brunettes, brown hair might nudge a person of your preferred sex in the direction of beauty. If you like blondes, brown hair might nudge that same person in the direction of ugliness. If you have catholic (note the small “c”!) tastes, it might not matter at all.