Posted by: dystopiandaze | January 25, 2011

Uglie Truths

You are ugly. Your friends are ugly. Your whole life is ugly. That is, until you turn 16.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

This week we’ll be looking at Scott Westerfeld’s The Uglies Trilogy. I’m so excited to be talking about this series with you since it’s one of my all-time favorites. Our main character is Tally and she lives in a world very different from ours. There are no wars or food shortages. There is no such thing as debt or homelessness. And the people are separated into two classes, the ugly and the pretty.

Everyone is born ugly, but once you turn 16 years old you undergo a life-changing experience: (mandatory) extreme plastic surgery. After the surgery a person is a “pretty” with perfect proportions, flawless skin and carbon steel-reinforced bones. As a new pretty you are moved to New Pretty Town, where the partying and socializing never end. Tally can’t wait until she turns 16, especially after her best friend Peris has already left her behind with the other uglies; even though her new-found friend Shay is fun to hang out with, she’s still an ugly like Tally.

At first I thought the entire concept for this book was a bit ridiculous. Sure, it’s the future, but why would the government ever mandate (let alone, fund!) that every citizen undergo something as invasive as an extreme plastic surgery?

Tally and Shay have a bit of an argument that clarifies things for us readers. Before the operation, many uglies spend their free time making “morphos” (morphological models) of themselves, altering their “ugly” faces digitally to guess what they will look like after the surgery. One day Tally and Shay get into a heated argument about Shay’s morpho:

“Shay! Come on. It’s just for fun.”

“Making ourselves feel ugly is not fun.”

“We are ugly!”

“This whole game is just designed to make us hate ourselves.”

“Right, and things were so great back when everyone was ugly? Or did you miss that day in school?”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Shay recited. “Everyone judged everyone else based on appearance. People who were taller got better jobs, and people even voted for some politicians just because they weren’t quite as ugly as everybody else. Blah, blah, blah.”

“Yeah, and people killed one another over stuff like having different skin color… So what if people look more alike now? It’s the only way to make people equal.”

-pg. 44-45, Uglies

Woah. Would that really work? Would eliminating the physical differences in a population really lead to the “perfect” society in Tally’s world?

I’m sure that there’s some truth to what Shay suggests, that everyone has at some point, judged someone else based on appearance. Have you ever found yourself trusting someone more or paying more attention to what they said not because they deserved it, but just because of their looks?



  1. This actually sounds like such a cool and unique topic for a book. I may just have to read it…

  2. I’ve never heard of this book, but it seems really interesting! Although, “the prettys” are an extreme, it still makes me think of how cosmetic plastic surgery is becoming more acceptable and how we continue to see an increase in surgery year after year. Interesting question about how eliminating physical differences in a population could lead to a “perfect society.” If there was no differences would we really be able to eliminate all the world’s problems? It would for sure be a boring world if we all were exactly alike…

  3. The book sounds fascinating, and I like the satirical spin on what we are becoming as an increasingly physical and youth-obsessed society. I think judging on appearances is inevitable, at least initially, whether we notice it or not. However, I think character and personality play a much larger role in the way we perceive people in the long run. Very interesting book choice…

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