Uglies

All posts tagged Uglies

One article that I found particularly helpful for my research, which will also be beneficial for others in the class, focuses on providing information about the risks of cosmetic surgeries to correct unattractive facial features. Diana Zuckerman wishes to examine risks associated with these types of surgeries to inform teens and young women in order to assist them in making their decisions, realizing that it’s difficult to determine when surguries cross the line. She begins the article by describing plastic surgery in developing teens, moves on to the risks involved with it, and then addresses possible solutions, all the while proving her point that this topic of research needs more time and energy to ensure that we aren’t ruining young girls’ lives.

65,000. To fix noses, lift breasts, perform tummy tucks, and go through with liposuction, 65,000 girls between the ages of 13 and 19 sought and received cosmetic surgery, many of whom did not make informed decisions (Zuckerman). Zuckerman points out that girls usually gain weight between 18 and 21 years old, so most girls who get surgery may need to get it again as their bodies change. Not only does she worry that teens don’t fully comprehend the risks involved, but the FDA has concerns about silicone gel breast implants and how young women don’t know all the information. As Zuckerman explains the risks involved with plastic surgery, she points out that “most women who get breast implants have at least one serious complication within the first three years” (Zuckerman). Many things can go wrong, and if something does, the patient will most likely have to go through surgery again. Body dysmorphic disorder is also prevalent among women seeking surgery, which holds a psychological risk. Zuckerman wants young women to realize what they’re actually about to go through and to understand the full scope.

Not only are the physical and psychological risks associated with breast implants, but monetary risks exist as well. Cosmetic surgery is very expensive, and if a complication exists, a lot of women may not be able to pay for it. Zuckerman also explains the risks associated with liposuction. Most people don’t realize that there can be “infection, damage to skin, nerves or vital organs…or blood clots” that can lead to death (Zuckerman). Teens will most likely not pay attention to the risks associated with these surgeries, which is a problem since the media and “public has an inflated sense of the benefits” (Zuckerman). Overall, research is lacking in results, but the media is influencing young women on this issue, which leads to uninformed decisions.

In order to prevent these decisions from occurring, Zuckerman proposes a couple options. Effective screening is a great way to determine if a patient is ready and mature enough to transform her body. Also, research is very important in this area since studies found that body images of teens improves regardless of going through plastic surgery or not (Zuckerman). Zuckerman feels that there is not enough long-term research for teens and their parents to make informed decision about cosmetic surgery.

This article is very important to my research because it showcases that we could be encouraging uninformed decisions about plastic surgery and that benefits of cosmetic surgery are inflated, just like in the novel Uglies. Many of the presentations focused on what dystopias can teach us about our society, and this article is a great example of what Uglies teaches us about our fears and how this benefits our society. We as a society are not focusing on the major problems associated with cosmetic surgery, and Zuckerman and I both realize that this needs to be changed.

Works Cited

Zuckerman, Diana. “Teens and Cosmetic Surgery.” Our Bodies Ourselves, 6 May 2016,   www.ourbodiesourselves.org/health-info/teens-cosmetic-surgery/. Accessed 22 Feb.        2017.

I saw this research paper as the perfect opportunity to communicate an issue that I think has been plaguing society. Since the rise of modern technology there has been a lack of importance placed on literature. The presence of a generation that remains more updated than ever, through social media, puts pressure on authors (and artists, etc.) to produce content more quickly. I hypothesize that this pressure results in authors falling back on “cheap” ways to get readers, instead of focusing on the “moral” aspect of the story.

Even though teens today have plenty of other things to influence and educate them, such as twitter, video games, and various new channels, YA literature remains one of the most useful tools for challenging the mind of the youth. Quickly produced and ill-thought out books might still achieve the goal of entertaining the reader, however these novels should be fully utilized by leaving the reader with questions or conclusions about life and society. This is especially true for dystopian novels, as they are the most effective in jump-starting a reader into action, often through fear.

However, this is not the fault of the ever-blamed millennials. Studies show that millennials are the most motivated generation, they have a higher “sense of purpose” than other generations, and are the largest advocates for social change. So why is there a gap between the desires of this young generation and the content produced for them? This is one of many questions my paper aims to answer.

My inspiration for this paper came out of researching some of my favorite novels, such as Brave New World, Lord of the Flies, and The Hunger Games, which are so morbid and abstract that I wondered how where the authors got their inspiration. I did some digging, and uncovered that almost every dystopian novel author came up with their idea because of a social injustice they wished to change.

My independent reading book, Uglies fits between the modern YA dystopia mold, and the “meaningful” dystopias. Uglies features a 16 year old girl as the main character with several love interests. The novel (arguably) is a part of a trilogy, is written in simple language, and was considered for a movie. These are components of a basic, money-making dystopia. However, it certainly left me wondering about the importance I place on my appearance. The author, Scott Westerfeld, explained “that his point in writing the book was not to make a big commentary on the issues with beauty, but to make people aware of the culture of retouching that is developing in the world and to be aware of our own ideas about beauty and our need to think for ourselves”.

Uglies should be a model to YA authors around the world. Dystopian novels can play into cliches, and get readers, while still having meaning.

Authors and Society: stop measuring the success of a novel by how much money the movie adaption made, and instead by the number of lives it impacted.

In one week, I will be presenting my conference paper for the class, which will encompass the many ideas I have for my research paper. In “Uglies Confronts Issues about Insecurities in Our Society,” I will explain how Scott Westerfeld uses his dystopian novel to criticize an aspect of society. In Uglies, he uses the “pretties” to represent the many people in our society who think they have to be perfect all of the time and the girls who are constantly dissatisfied with their bodies. Technology and social media have provided young girls with skewed images of what being pretty looks like. Westerfeld realizes this is a problem, and one way in which he can spread the message about problems in the world is by using his novels.

The increasing problem that Westerfeld addresses in his novel Uglies is something we have to address immediately. Patients seeking cosmetic surgery have shifted in age from a somewhat older population to a young one. Many girls think they need to be normal, but they already are. Technology and mass media has created a false image of what reality looks like, and it is costing us young girls’ innocence. In Judith Burns’ article about pressuring girls into looking pretty has very astonishing and repulsive statistics. Among seven- to ten-year olds, “38% felt they were not pretty enough (Burns). This is absolutely insane. These girls either have not reached double digits in the ages or just have. I can’t even remember thinking about how I looked. This number increased to 66% in 11- to 21-year olds, which is crazy (Burns). All of the girls think they are not pretty enough, not good enough, but what they don’t see is that each one of them is beautiful in her own way.

Westerfeld realized that using plastic surgery to make someone look “normal” is wrong, and the shift towards this as a norm should not be happening. Critics even look to judge a woman based on how she looks instead of what she is actually saying. Women are being judged based on looks, and it is affecting how girls and women look at themselves. Young girls are still maturing, so most of them don’t realize what they’re about to go through. Body image disorders are increasing in number, more young girls are seeking plastic surgery because they think they look abnormal, and women are pressured to look pretty all of the time. All of these extreme measures are costing us innocence, money, personal relationships, physical risks, and psychological effects. Westerfeld is warning us what will happen if we continue this trend, so we need to address plastic surgery and body image issues immediately.

 

Burns, Judith. “Pressure to Look Perfect Hits Girls’ Confidence, Say Guides.” BBC News, 4 Oct.            2016, www.bbc.com/news/education-37543769. Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

Throughout this semester, we’ve been reading and discussing countless elements of Young Adult Dystopian literature, from timelines, to love stories, scientific advancement, and so on; but, have we ever stopped to ask why specifically young adult literature? Is there something special about these characters that defines an entirely different genre? In my conference presentation and research paper, I’ll be discussing why young adults have acted as powerful enough characters to make this genre as popular and profitable as it is.

As visible in this graphic, following the publication of The Hunger Games in 2008, the percentage of literature with a dystopian theme skyrocketed, many of the most popular of these publications containing young adult characters, such as M.T. Anderson’s Feed, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent. These stories showcase young adults, which I’ll refer to as 15-24-year-olds, facing similar problems and pressures to what we face in our everyday lives. They fight for what they believe in in a world that is different, yet not completely unrecognizable from ours OR impossible for ours to become. What draws such a connection between these characters and audiences of all ages are the relatable aspects of life that readers can relate to through their youth, and how relevant many of the issues the characters face are to the youth population today.

One interesting aspect of young adult literature that I want to elaborate on in my argument is how intensely the following of such a relatable character can influence trends in the genre. For example, the Divergent series was profitable enough to be turned into a movie, even though critics speculate that the book’s plot was so poor that it must’ve been written merely for money-making purposes (Dean, 48-49). This book wouldn’t have been able to connect to so many people had they not become attached to the main character and the challenges she faces, and even though it was not necessarily critically acclaimed, it did its job of connecting to people of all ages through a young character. My presentation is not a case study on Divergent, however, but rather it is a study of how characters similar to those in the aforementioned texts are shaped around their environments to become characters that everybody seems to want to read about.

Works Cited:

Brown, Patrick. “The Dystopian Timeline to The Hunger Games [INFOGRAPHIC].”Goodreads. Goodreads Inc., 21 Mar. 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

Dean, Michelle. “Our Young-Adult Dystopia.” New York Times Magazine, Feb 02 2014, pp. 48-49. New York Times; ProQuest Central; ProQuest Newsstand; Research Library, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/1495412558?accountid=11107.

While dystopias can contain various characteristics that make them what they are, there are a couple aspects that fascinate me. One aspect in particular that catches my attention is the fact that many authors of dystopian novels criticize a certain type of political system, a norm of a society, or a current trend that their society is leaning towards (“Dystopias”). Today, many judge people based on looks and what they see fit as being pretty. In Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, he criticizes this aspect of society by making the citizens of the dystopia go through a transformation (plastic surgery) to make themselves all pretty. They do not even get to have a choice about what they look like; the government decides everything for them. In this novel, society holds one, single definition of what pretty is and pressures everyone into becoming the picture of the definition. Westerfeld takes the novel to an extreme. He relays the idea that if some of us keep encouraging plastic surgery and being “perfect,” they will never achieve perfection. We cannot keep moving towards surgery and every available option to “fix” us; we are perfect in our own way. In another part of the novel, Westerfeld criticizes the world with his use of the Rusties. These people are more concerned with making a profit off of anything they can rather than caring for the environment or negative consequences. Westerfeld stressed the problems in our world today that need to be fixed, and we should try to not head toward these outcomes.

In this photo, a beautiful girl is about to go through plastic surgery most likely because she wants to fulfill society’s definition of pretty.

Another aspect of a dystopia that particularly interests me is that a dystopia is an illusion of a perfect world. The surgeries that are supposed to make the citizens “perfect” actually cause a problem. Many in Uglies don’t see the problem with having the surgery because they don’t know anything outside of their society. The citizens are told what is “right,” but that is not necessarily what is right. It can connect with the world today because many people are attempting to transform themselves for various reasons, and I need to find out why. Uglies consists of an illusion of a perfect society and criticizes many aspects of society, making it one of my favorite dystopian novels.

 

Works Cited

“Dystopias: Definition and Characteristics.” ReadWriteThink. NCTE/IRA, 2006,             http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson926/Definitio   nCharacteristics.pdf. Accessed 21 May 2017.