There are two characters in the scene. Quinn, who looks like this:
The girls confide in one another on the adolescent pressures they feel to look physically attractive. Quinn explains how pregnancy has given her a better attitude towards eating to be healthy, rather than just to be thin. Mercedes, who had been trying to crash diet to join the cheerleading team, sees her point:
Mercedes: I’m so embarrased, this isn’t me. How did I become this person?
Quinn: You are beautiful. You know that.
Sorry? The jaw-droppingly hot girl has just told the fat, ugly girl that she's beautiful, even though she is not. Later in the show Mercedes sings the Christina Aguilera song Beautiful:
You are beautiful no matter what they say
Words can't bring you down
You are beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can't bring you down
Aguilera's music video for Beautiful features a freak parade of ugliness: dangerously skinny girl, bald tranvestite (possible reject from Silence of the Lambs), sullen goth and weedy little dude flexing his muscles. She assures them that they are, indeed, beautiful.
A quick reminder what Aguilera herself looks like:
Beautiful celebrities often push these messages, suggesting that beauty should play no role in one's romantic attraction to another - or that everyone, however physically repulsive, is actually beautful. In the movie Shallow Hal, the lead character is hypnotised to see womens' inner beauty only, and falls in love with a grossly obese woman. The film shows the woman as Hal sees her - Gwyneth Paltrow - and how she really is - Paltrow in a fat suit. (Heaven forbid they employ an actual fat person.) To tell us that inner beauty is more important than physical beauty, they employed a woman who looks like this:
How hard they struggle to deny the animal nature of sexual desire. Remember why we evolved sexuality in the first place: most of us are hot-wired to desire traits in the opposite sex that imply healthy offspring will grow from sexual relations. That rules out pus-oozing, grossly disproportionate bodies barely capable of supporting their own weight, let alone rearing a child. If you are reading this, and you actually do look like that, here is an honest message:
Yes, you are so ugly you make adults uncomfortable and little children sob. So what? Your ugliness will decrease the likelihood that you have sexual or romantic relations, and the likelihood you end up on TV. It won't bother the rest of your life much, so carry on being ugly and do lots of great and worthwhile things. Romance and sex isn't everything.
Many of the beautiful celebrities seem to think that the inability to attract sexual partners is the worst fate imaginable. So lost in their own shallow obsession with being desired, they presume that being undesirable must be nightmarish indeed.
Their message, particularly to girls, is that beauty is absolutely crucial and a life is worthless without being able to easily attract sexual partners. If someone finds it difficult to attract partners, it must be because others are too shallow to see the inner beauty. What a horrific and baffling message for young people to decode. Yes you need to be beautiful. Yes there are clear standards for beauty, considering the celebrities who sincerely promise that everyone is gorgeous are all somehow slim and sexy themselves. But no, you can't admit that some people are better looking than others.
Still, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are people with all kinds of odd fetishes, like the men who choose obese women, so there may be someone for everyone - but stereotypical ugliness does worsen the odds, as a quick comparison between the number of Google searches for the Glee actors confirms. Here we see the searches for Quinn (Diana Agron) and Mercedes (Amber Reilly).
Equal? Nah, of course not. Blonde beauty Diana Agron attracts far, far more searches than Amber Reilly. "You're beautiful", Quinn should have said. "Metaphorically speaking."