I’m quite happy to be hosting this stop on the “Mortal Danger” tour – I LOVED the start of this new series from Aguirre, who’s already proven herself with the “Razorland” trilogy as a capable YA author (and her NA stuff, so far, ain’t too bad neither).
So, I asked Aguirre to write a guest post. She chose the topic of beauty. Let’s hear what she has to say on it after the jump!
Beauty: Privilege & Pitfall
“The research reviewed by Hamermesh* shows that attractive people, both men and women, earn an average of 3 or 4% more than people with below average looks, which adds up to a significant amount of money over a lifetime. Beautiful people are also hired sooner, get promotions more quickly, are higher-ranking in their companies (a study found the CEOs of larger and more successful companies are rated as being more physically attractive than the CEOs of smaller companies), and get all kinds of extra benefits and perks on the job including, perhaps, more free tickets to fly in F/B class. It turns out that more attractive people often bring more money to their companies and therefore are more valuable employees.”
–from an article by Dario Maestripieri, Ph.D., a professor of comparative human development, evolutionary biology, and neurobiology at the University of Chicago.
*Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful by Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas / Austin.
I’m starting here with a couple of references to establish that there’s sound academic research behind the idea that beauty does make life easier. Some readers may feel that Mortal Danger sends a shallow message—that beauty will solve your problems. That’s not the subtext, however; rather it’s the way of the world. Our society, particularly in post-modern American culture, has created a cult of youth and beauty. What happens to actresses past a certain age; do they find a wealth of rich, nuanced roles? No.
That’s why they go under the knife repeatedly, and then, the media lampoons them for looking like they’ve had multiple facelifts. We get before and after shots, and “Poor Miss X, she was so popular in the 90s. Now with that face, she’ll never work again.” If they refrain, then journalists mock them for the unpardonable sin of aging. There’s no way for an actress to win. In Hollywood, women are prized for smooth skin, thin, fit bodies, and pert breasts. We don’t value whatever wisdom they might have acquired in sixty years; rather, we demand that they be immortal, forever twenty-something, and pretty as a picture. That doesn’t mean I agree with any of these ideas. In fact, it enrages me that a woman should be considered important only because her face is symmetrical and her body curves into a pleasing line. That’s why I’m shining a light on the issue in Mortal Danger.
Beauty is one facet of existence, not the panacea that heals all wounds. But if you read the article above, attractive people do have an easier time, whether getting a job, applying for a loan, or simply receiving some perk they didn’t earn. Other humans are genetically programmed to respond this way to good-looking people. Why? Because they’re desirable mates.
That doesn’t mean beautiful people have no problems, however, as Edie learns in Mortal Danger. They can still suffer from the weight of familial expectation and they can be neglected emotionally. Beauty doesn’t mean they feel they’re living up to potential. Plus, there’s the additional attention that comes with exceptional looks. Sometimes, a woman wants to be left alone and yet strangers on public transportation feel entitled to her time and attention because they find her attractive. These situations can escalate rapidly and become frightening. In that vein, Edie will come to a number of conclusions about her appearance through the Immortal Game series, and it’s not all, Whee, now I’m pretty, life is perfect.
What about you, would you ever consider plastic surgery? Why or why not?
Definitely something to think about. Thanks, Ann! Remember, folks, that “Mortal Danger” is out from Macmillan Children’s in North America on August 5, 2014! It’s one of my favorites of 2014 so far, so definitely check it out when you get the chance.