Above are medical photos of little girls suffering from a rare, awful disease called Treacher Collins Syndrome. TC is one of the many horrible disorders visited upon innocent children by a supposedly all-knowing, merciful God. It is a disease marked by what is missing: TC babies are often born earless, missing part or all of their lower jaws, and/or bereft of thumbs.
Perhaps the greatest horror of all is the fact Treacher Collins sufferers usually grow to “normal” adulthood. What this inevitably means is that people afflicted with the disorder have no other choice but to reconcile, with their fully-developed brains, that they will always be pitied for their appearance.
In a world where most would send an appliance back to the manufacturer if it was missing a non-crucial piece and where twenty-five percent of all food produced in America ends up in landfills because was just a bit too brown, too ripe, or too blemished to eat, we can hardly expect someone with TC to have an easy time. It’s not so much that imperfection is shunned but perfection (or our culture’s warped image of it) is worshipped.
Physical beauty is the cornerstone to success these days and those who do not have it, well, they don’t “count”. Sure, it helps to be smart, but if intelligence really mattered, Kim Kardashian would have been relegated to casting couches along with her now-forgotten predecessor, Paris Hilton; Avril Lavigne would be unemployed and living in her mother’s basement after her umpteenth stint in incompetent customer service for a dismal, florescent-lit big box store; and Rihanna and J.Lo would be working the poles at the local backwater strip shack/used adult DVD emporium.
The competition for Who is the Fairest of them All is so cutthroat we have women (and men) willing to stuff themselves with botulism toxin and plastic derivatives in the battle to stay twenty. Never mind the freakish, often alien results of the addiction to youth-chasing; to a certain set, it is worth untold thousands of dollars and cumulative years spent in oozing, post-operative recovery to look like slightly off alt-versions of their younger selves.
The media can echo each other all they want and shout Juliana Wetmore is “redefining beauty”. She is not and we all know it. The politically correct Thought Police would like to mandate a ban on all ugly words and thoughts, even to the point of denying ugly people their right to be called “ugly”. Out of a misguided attempt to spare the ugly person’s feelings, the PC Thought Police, in true Orwellian form, re-label the ugly girl as beautiful. In casting such a label, the labeler anoints herself as the supreme arbiter of cosmic justice, papering over the stinging unfairness of looks-ism with one convenient swatch of untruth. I don’t think this benefits the ugly person at all. Instead, the differences between the person with elephantitis of the face and the “normal” person are highlighted by the pretty person’s need to lie about it.
Things have changed for the better since the days of circus freak shows and pickled punks, however, making a pretend game that a deformed person is beautiful puts her on display in a way that is only slightly less harmful and much more insulting.
I’ve got a novel solution: How about not putting so much emphasis on physical beauty in the first place?
Why is it that every magazine I have ever read that was geared towards females has implied (and sometimes plainly stated) that if one is not pretty, she had better make up for it in other ways, such as wit or the ability to make others laugh?
How about not having to make up for diddly shit? I know the concept of a meritocracy not based on looks or nepotism is akin to suggesting a new world order based on peaceful democracy and cooperation, i.e., highly unlikely, but I am going to go for it anyway. It is time we stopped caring so deeply about being pretty or at very least, started to discourage little girls from gazing fondly in the mirror as a potential lifelong occupation.
I was recently saddened when I stumbled upon a tidbit of East Indian history. In a series of three character sketches of three different Indian women of centuries past, all were lauded as exceptional beauties first and foremost in the storytelling despite their various contributions to the Hindustani empire. Whether real or imaginary, the primary prerequisite for memorable female characters is that they are beautiful. That sucks.
For even those in possession of physical “perfection” face the inevitable fading of their looks. Easily crushed are the Marilyn Monroes of the world, who are the recipients of empty adulation shortly before being relegated to the heap of the formerly relevant. I think we must recognize human beauty of any sort is ephemeral and to turn it into a place of worship, as if it was God, is perverse. Beauty is great and having it is fun. Recognizing beauty is not at fault; the crime lies in taking it too seriously.