The world is full of worries—Ebola,the Republican takeover of Congress, global warming. But face it—what’s really on everybody’s mind? Rene Zellwegger’s new face.
The crux of the debate is that she looks great–she just doesn’t look like Rene Zellwegger. (Emerging unrecognizable from the surgeon’s scalpel seems to be acceptable for escaping convicts, like Humphrey Bogart in Dark Passage, but not for middle-aged female movie stars).
Confidential contacts led to the Foundation for Beauty, Economics, and the American Way, where L.I.L. interviewed its founder, Retired Brigadier-General Horatio “Bud” Grimsby, posed strategically in front of whiteboards filled with economic projections flanked by a large American Flag.
“In some cultures,” the ex-General intoned, “baby girls are abandoned. In our great nation, we say thank heaven for little girls—because our economy depends on them. We’ve outsourced everything but fast food and Taylor Swift.” Waving his pointer at scribbled projections, he continued: “Our only growth industries (besides prisons) are beauty and self-help. More than 7 billion dollars spent yearly on beauty products!” he enthused, his voice throbbing with excitement.
“We support every little girl’s God-given American right to grow up with deep insecurities about every aspect of her face and figure—regardless of her race, class, or creed,” the ex-General continued, practically saluting. “Generations of girls and women fuel our economic engine by consuming beauty products from the cradle to the grave.” His pointer danced happily over the numbers on the whiteboards—“and they’re simultaneously spending $11 billion dollars a year (at least) on self-help, self-acceptance, and self-improvement products to make themselves feel better when the beauty products don’t deliver.”
“But what if women and girls were simply free to like themselves and each other and just get on with their lives and goals?” L.I.L. enquired. “Free to cure cancer, compose concertos, achieve universal prosperity and world peace?”
The ex-General shook his head so hard his toupee almost fell off. “Female insecurity powers two major growth industries for America. It’s a win-win situation!” he concluded more happily, before turning his gaze on me.
Frowning, he began to wave his pointer. “Look at that incipient age spot,” he exclaimed. “How long have you lived with that nose? Do you intend to die a 34B with 38-inch hips? Those proportions should be reversed!” Stretching out his pointer arm while taking on an uncanny resemblance to Uncle Sam, he roared, “It’s Starve and Carve for you—American woman, do your duty!”
Narrowly dodging his waving pointer, L.I.L. escaped to the underground complex of the Institute for the Scientific Future of Beauty— the hidden Batcave of beauty research. Its director, senior geneticist Dr. Karl von der Humperdinck, was a short, squat, bald man with squinty eyes, dressed in a white lab coat too long for him. “Botox, liposuction, plastic surgery? Primitive technologies!” he exclaimed. “”Mascara, lip plumper, wrinkle cream? Cavewoman cosmetics!”
The lab walls were covered with photos of models and movie stars, all marked up with arrows, measurements, and scientific formulas. The good doctor began to resemble the “before” picture of the Frog Prince, surrounded by inanimate princesses who wouldn’t kiss him.
“In the future of beauty, there will be no reason for females to bother with such claptrap—because there won’t be any women who need it. Would-be parents will impregnate themselves with clones of embryos based on scientifically improved versions of Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara, Tyra Banks— replicas of scientifically developed samples approved by the National Board of Aesthetics, of which I am the founding director.”
“Does the National Board of Aesthetics deal with male beauty?,” L.I.L. blurted. Von der Humperdinck gave me a truly dirty look before continuing.
“For those who want more of an edge, there may be a Janelle Monae clone—but no Lady Gaga,” he shuddered. “Of course, there are also beautiful Asian-Americans to be cloned, but I’m trying to find one who isn’t a neurosurgeon.”
L.I.L. was nonplussed. “But the world will be full of identical carbon copies! Lookalikes! What about personality? Individuality?”
“What is the point of individuality in women?” von der Humperdinck demanded, trying not to trip on his lab coat as he paced. “It is time to replace Woman Revision A with scientifically approved samples!” he shouted. (I thought I saw his arm start to raise in a Nazi salute, like Dr. Strangelove, but it may have been a trick of the light). “It doesn’t pay for a woman to look like herself—consider Renee Zellwegger.”
He paced faster, sweating. “But one question keeps me up at night. Should we permit to exist an underclass of ordinary women to serve The New Female and her partner, the male Master Race?” (He looked right at me).
Pacing more rapidly, he tripped over his lab coat. As his lumpy head collided with the laboratory floor, I woke up.
And read If like Renee Zellwegger You Have A Face and Body-Listen Up by Jennifer Weiner and Renee Zellwegger and a Ugly Brawl About Beauty by Julia Baird as antidotes to the nightmare. I suggest you do the same.