MaxBarry.com
not just a pretty face

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Fri 11
May
2007

Fear the Beautiful

What Max Reckons A while ago I watched The Biggest Loser. This is a TV show in which fat, unhappy people turn themselves into thin, self-satisfied assholes. Well, some of the contestants are assholes to begin with. They either stay the same, or turn into different kinds of assholes. The nice ones, though, it’s like watching Annakin Skywalker become Darth Vader: by the end they look cooler, but will destroy planets to get what they want.

Why is this? I suppose skinny people might be innately more evil than fat ones. But I don’t know. I mean, Mother Theresa. Or maybe it’s that attractive people are more evil. That sounds about right. (Again, Mother Theresa.) I’ve always been suspicious of very good-looking people. I think they should be microchipped and tracked, so we can keep an eye on what they’re up to. I would feel a lot better if I knew beautiful people were being monitored to make sure they weren’t skipping lines, getting out of speeding tickets, and having impromptu sex with flight attendants. If I can’t do those things, nobody should be allowed to.

But I can’t blame the Biggest Loser people for becoming pricks. If I abruptly became a lot hotter, I’d develop a huge ego and poorly-concealed contempt for my fellow man, too. I mean, even more so than now. That’s just the natural consequence of being able to look at yourself in the mirror and think, “Wow… I’m amazing.”

I keep hearing about the importance of self-esteem, but I’m not convinced. I think we may be underestimating the value of crippling self-doubt and insecurity. If you go to the beach, you’ll see a hairy, fat man in his 50s strolling by in a thong, while nearby a 20-year-old with the body of a movie star tugs at her skirt to make sure it’s covering thighs she thinks are too large or pale or freckled or god knows what. I don’t think it’s coincidence that human beings are afflicted with chronic lack of confidence just as they begin to scale the peak of their physical attractiveness: I think that’s the only thing stopping young people from taking over the world. Imagine how horrendous it would be if that 20-year-old had the self-confidence of the 50-year-old. No, not because of the thong. The thong would be fine, obviously. The problem would be that once she realized how vastly superior she looked compared to the rest of us, she and her young, beautiful friends would round the rest of us up and lock us in labor camps, where they wouldn’t have to look at us.

And we would let them, because they’re beautiful.

Comments

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Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: "www.MidwestRockLobster.blogspot.com"
Posted: 2683 days ago

Beautiful women seem more likely to be insecure about their looks, it seems to me. I've known stunningly beautiful women who seemed to think they were mediocre to hideous. But no matter what sort of bloated cootie a man is physically, that never seems to translate into self image. We all figure we're at least passably appealing.

It's what accounts for all the Rick Ocasek/Paulina Porizkova couples in the world.

metalbiteme (#1495)

Location: WALES UK
Quote: "Welcome to nowhere fast. Nothing here ever lasts."
Posted: 2683 days ago

'I've known stunningly beautiful women who seemed to think they were mediocre to hideous.'
They are just saying that so they get praise.

James Heath (#1846)

Location: Nottingham, England
Quote: ""I've done it before and I'll do it again - I'll F***ing Kill Google!" - Steve Ballmer"
Posted: 2683 days ago

Perhaps it's Hubris? "Oh, I'm slightly better looking now, so I'm so much better than you people who haven't slightly increased in beauty since I last saw you!"

Angela (#3109)

Location: Ithaca, NY, USA
Posted: 2683 days ago

Is it possible the transformed obese on this show are just exacting revenge on the populus for years of degradation and subjugation? Or maybe we all simply have this same notion that pretty people *must* be taking advantage of their looks, and they are just feeling pressure to act the part.

Or, maybe they get stage directions about being assholes, because viewers would reject a show where nice people got to be pretty as well. It's almost like we accept their good fortunate because we assume they had to sacrifice something important to get it.

Jockey (#142)

Location: Chicago
Quote: "Ooops, that was my insulin inhaler."
Posted: 2683 days ago

It's not that attractive people are more mean, it's that people who care a lot about their appearances AND are attractive are mean. And you know that the people on the show care, because that's why they're there.

austin (#2462)

Location: rhode island
Quote: "hmmm...bleh..."
Posted: 2683 days ago

Haha. Great description of the show.

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 2683 days ago

that's the same as a guy growing 6 inches in 3 months and expecting him to not swing his u kno what around and have a swagger :]

Duncan (#1311)

Location: Arizona Nova
Quote: "Death to Todd Bunker"
Posted: 2683 days ago

Ave Max!

Cory Lavalette (#52)

Location: Raleigh, N.C., USA
Quote: ""When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?""
Posted: 2683 days ago

I'll say it for you, Max ... your wife is surely evil, right?

Jeffrey (#2286)

Location: Right here
Quote: "Mathematics is a powerful language. Just look at how mathematicians destroyed the housing market."
Posted: 2683 days ago

I like the microchip idea lol.

Sudi (#2895)

Location: Ithaca, 10 square miles surrounded by reality
Quote: "Mostly lucid"
Posted: 2683 days ago

or we could drain the human brain of the obsessive-compulsive hormone/gene/ chemical/ whatchamacallit that makes us hyperventilate in response to beauty- ours and others- so we can focus back on the million other things that really matter

Greg Karber (#1568)

Location: gregkarber.com
Posted: 2683 days ago

You have a thing with pretty people/models, don't you, Max?

I've read your short stories. I know you.

Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 2683 days ago

So, ah, enjoying sleeping on the couch are we Max?

Machine Man subscriber Roger (#1653)

Posted: 2683 days ago

If I may quote a line from a certain sketch comedy show...


"Evil! Evil! Impolite and evil!"

The sketch was more about the Son of Satan rather than beautiful people, but I think it's fitting nonetheless.

Donnie (#1282)

Location: Etobicoke, close to where the passenger pigeons used to migrate
Quote: "Mockery is the highest form of flattery."
Posted: 2682 days ago

Dear Max,

Dammit, it's scary how you and I are on the same wavelength sometimes... just when I think I'm the only one thinking something and then you will write about it. I'm probably exaggerating (just a little), but I too am scared of the beautiful people, and living in a large urban city like Toronto as good weather comes to town makes me feel kind of helpless and euphoric at the same time. Now that I'm "over the hill" (thirty-one) I know I can't compete, but something compels me to think I'm supposed to be trying harder to be like "them".

Is a beautiful fat person an even greater monstrousity? (sorry I couldn't be bothered to look up the spelling of that word) or if I'm fat and I think I'm beautiful too does that just make me a bigger asshole?

Signed,

Putting on the Pounds


Katy (#2345)

Location: Los Angeles
Posted: 2682 days ago

You make me laugh. Thanks for writing funny stuff!

Lottie (#3093)

Location: Sheffield, UK
Posted: 2681 days ago

Blame it on God. He was the one who said men and women should have babies.

Jak (#2464)

Quote: "The Straight-Jacket makes it hard to type."
Posted: 2681 days ago

And yet we have a man who looks like a monkey as "The Leader of the Free World".
Whats up with that.

Richard (#2051)

Location: Boulder, CO
Quote: "...I may not like you, but because some town in Switzerland says so, you have rights!"
Posted: 2680 days ago

Some of the greatest U.S. leaders have been hideous. Abraham Lincoln, for example, was probably way too ugly to get elected in the age of TV. Not that I'm a fan of G-dub...I just think there are a lot of better reasons to dislike him than his apely looks.

Justin (#2009)

Location: Halfmoon, NY
Quote: "Max(x) is awesome!"
Posted: 2679 days ago

Damn... that was fantastic! I'm sorry it took me so long to get around to reading this entry... I think you should flesh this idea out and work it into a full length novel. When, that is, you get a few spare moments.

Jak (#2464)

Quote: "The Straight-Jacket makes it hard to type."
Posted: 2679 days ago

Didn't say i dislike Dubyah because of the way he looks, didn't say that i disliked him at all.
Its just interesting that many people in power look terrible.
I think peoples lack of self-esteem in "image" leads the to compensate in other areas.

Dustin (#2291)

Location: California
Quote: "There's no sense crying over every mistake, you just keep on trying till you run out of cake" - GLaDOS"
Posted: 2658 days ago

That actually sounds like a good idea for a book. A world where beautiful people flourish and ugly people are locked away so you wouldn't have to look at them. Kind of like Gattaca... but with physical appearance instead of genes.

Becci (#3144)

Location: England
Quote: "You ain't got alot, but it's all that you've got and you can turn it into more than it seems!"
Posted: 2656 days ago

I appears that the fat and ugly people are no longer regaurded as decent members of the human race. For example the general political feeling here in the UK is that all fat people should be shot. The goverments view is that they are bleeding money out of the health service and that they should be refused treatment or service of pretty much any kind. So maybe the idea of removing the "ugly" is already becoming a reality?? To create a race of superior people, that is no longer scarred by the human deformity that is ugliness or obesity. There was a suggestion a while ago that fat children be offered liposuction. I mean how many programs and magazines advertise the way a normal human being can become beautiful with the power of human intervention?? The question is... how far will the quest for perfection take us into the world of lunnacy?

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