Sunday, April 12, 2009

Worldbuilding: You have to suffer to be a beautiful being

A lot of the most creative worldbuilding in speculative or science fiction borrows heavily from our own, obscure human cultures. Reading publications like National Geographic, Scientific American, The Prehistory of Sex, Coming of Age In Samoa, Manwatching... for example are a great source of inspiration.

If Ronald Tobias is correct that there are only twenty or so "Master Plots", it could well be true that there are a finite number of ways in which a being can suffer in order to improve his or her attractiveness to other members of the species.

I started a list. My list is in no particular order.

Chinese foot binding.
Head binding (Pharoahs did, I believe, so those distinctive crowns would fit).
Brazilian waxing.
Pudenda plucking.
Various piercings...from feminine ear lobes to bolts through male members.
Elongation by means of piercing and the introduction of "spacers" in earlobes, lower lips.
Neck elongation, as with the "giraffe" women.
Labia elongation.
Tooth filing, and other forms of dental intervention.
Botox injections.
Plastic surgery including nose jobs, face lifts, chin and cheek implants, breast reduction, breast augmentation, liposuction, ear pinning.
Leg elongation.
Toe breaking and straightening.
Permanent make up (more tattooing).
Extreme corset wearing.

I'm sure there are many, many more. So, what I am pondering is, would any alien species most likely go to similar lengths? Or would they think that we are out of our minds?

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

This is absolutely nothing to do with beauty, but I'd like to thank everyone who supported the New Covey Trailer Awards last month.


  1. Rowena, Your post reminded me of a group of art students which I once taught. It was a group of 9 yr. old boys. They asked me what happened to all the dicks on the statues. With a straight (well sort of) face, I explained about Victorian sensibilities and fig leaves. The next thing that I knew they had all grabbed themselves and were rolling on the ground moaning in agony. The class was a total loss after that. Even the mothers started laughing when they arrived. I'm still laughing all these years later. :-D

  2. Oh yeah, Congratulations on winning the award for the most intriguing trailer for KIGHT'S FORK. That's wonderful.

  3. Notice that on our world more of those "beautification" ordeals are undergone by women than by men? :)

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