Get ready for some scary, fresh from Boing Boing.
My book Uglies is set in a future in which readily available cosmetic surgery has lead to an “arms race” of attractiveness. Everyone is forced to have huge eyes, super-clear skin, full lips, and all the other signs of neotony that evolution (supposedly) makes us look for when choosing a mate.
But what never occured to me until today is that you don’t need a lot of surgical technology to create this dystopia. All you need is . . . Photoshop.
Behold the world of Angels with Attitude:
From the contest rules:
These photos will be judged on facial beauty, expression & fashion, and overall appeal . . . but should not be extremely or overly retouched. (We are judging the child – not the retoucher!) Overall Winner will receive 50.00 Angel Dollars.
“Angel dollars?” you make ask.
Well, “angel dollars” are just like real dollars, except you can only spend them to enter certain teen and pre-teen beauty contests. These contests are run by the same people who run this “not overly retouched” photo contest. It all fits hand in glove, from digital camera to computer screen to real-life angelic beauty smackdown.
By “angelic,” interestingly, these folks seem to using the same criteria as my Uglies dystopians: creepily huge eyes, clear skin, full lips. But what’s amazing to me about these photos (go gaze at them, if you dare) is that they show how a small group of people can go into a feedback loop and wind up off their collective rockers. This site is not a satire. Nor is this one. This is nothing less than an honestly held aesthetic about what human children should look like.
Can you imagine what will happen when cheap cosmetic surgery is safe and reversible enough for little kids? These won’t just be photos anymore.
Of course, maybe “angelic” is the right word. I mean, angels in the Christian Bible were actually terrible to look upon, right? (Jud 13:6, anyone?) But the word that comes to my mind when I look at these pictures isn’t “terrible.”
It’s more like . . . “eww.”