Uglies by Scott Westerfeld was a series that intrigued me back in middle school. The books are set in a society that gives the option of plastic surgery to sixteen year olds. Basically, after this extreme plastic surgery, the teenagers will have the perfect body: “big eyes, full lips, no one fat or skinny.” Along with this perfect body comes acceptance into New Pretty Town, where the new “Pretties” are free to roam and carry out risky adventures. However, along with this perfect body comes a price: brain lesions are left in the new Pretties’ brains that take away their desire to think for themselves. They have no imagination, emotions other than happiness, or wish to be different. The worst part is that no one questions this submissive behavior since the “Uglies” are shunned for their imperfections and not respected or listened to, and everyone else is “pretty-minded.” There is much more to the story, but the above summary is sufficient to make my point across.
I remember being a middle schooler and picturing this dystopia as reality. What would I do? Would I be like the main character and rebel against this corrupt society? Or would I give into peer pressure and get the operation as soon as I turned sixteen? I took into account the fact that I would have been raised to not question this government as well as the strong desire I’d have to be “beautiful” like everyone else. To be completely honest, I would most likely go with the operation. Knowing this, what does this say about me? Am I easily persuaded? I would like to say that I’m not, but when literally “everybody is doing it” and you’ve known nothing else, it is hard to refuse giving in.
Thus, this brings up my next point of how different is this dystopia from modern society? Yes, we must take into account that we don’t have this advanced of technology, but, as each day goes by, we make further and further progress. This possibility could very soon become a reality. In a few previous blog posts, the topic of unattainable perfection in media was mentioned. Modern day society is already obsessed with advertising this “perfect image.” Thanks to the help of photo shopping and plastic surgery, more and more people are developing mental disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, to try and achieve this look. People are purchasing expensive products to keep their skin flawless or make their eyes and lips bigger. If this continues, we will all be soon on the crash course toward a society that could very well resemble the Uglies civilization.
So the final question is: What would you do? If this operation were offered to you in the future, would you take it? The disadvantages of having the brain lesions may not be present in a real-life situation, but wouldn’t simply giving in to the operation be enough to say that you are conforming to everyone else’s beliefs? Basically, by accepting this operation, you would be indirectly admitting that beauty and fitting in is your main priority. If you valued your uniqueness and independence, then undergoing this operation would be out of the question, right?