Tyra Banks wrote an op-ed piece for The Wall Street Journal (“Tyra Banks Says Beauty in the Future Will Mean Looking Different“) about her predictions for the future. With the tagline, “Plastic Surgery and Other Aids Will Be Widely Available, Putting a Premium on Distinct Looks,” it’s clear that Ms. Banks is dreaming of a plastic future reality, on where natural bodies are deemed unworthy. Solid message, Tyra!
Let’s deconstruct her piece. She begins with:
As I look into the future, I see radical changes in both how people “attain beauty,” and how the world perceives beauty. In general, I believe, traditional beauty will be less valuable—and more uniqueness will be heralded.
Ok, this doesn’t seem all that bad. “Traditional beauty will be less valuable” could refer to what we’re used to seeing as far as female cover models go. You know, women who look like this:
Then Tyra says she thinks uniqueness will be revered and I’m digging this so far! Seems fairly positive, especially since, according to Hollywood, being “unique” is really just another way of saying “average” and “everyday” and “completely and totally normal and not just another bubble headed bleach blonde with a Barbie body.” I’m picturing something along the lines of:
Not so fast. It becomes clear fairly quickly that that’s not what she means. Not at all.
But let me be more specific with 10 predictions:
1. Plastic surgery will be as easy and quick as going to the drugstore for Tylenol. Emphasis will be on how unique and interesting one can look, as opposed to a cookie-cutter look. People will be vying for that cutting-edge, distinct look in the way that today celebs reach for baby names that defy convention.
So. Plastic surgery = uniqueness.
Listen, I’m all for anything that will allow someone to feel better about themselves, including a little plastic surgery. Hell, I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit to wanting a smidgen of Botox for the Grand Canyon-sized frown lines on my forehead, but Banks is comparing outlandish celebrity baby names with completely altering ones body all for the sake of perfection.
Sure, that’s why most people, men and women, get plastic surgery: to make themselves look and feel better, but popping pills to achieve beauty? Sounds a bit like a landscape of druggy narcissists.
2. There will be no hair extensions. If one wants longer locks, a hair-growing serum is applied to the scalp, and the length and thickness of the hair will increase in 24 hours. The popular hair texture of choice will be curly.
Because no woman is happy with her natural hair, amiright? #EyeRoll
Black women want straight, blond locks.
Natural curly-haired women would rather chemically straighten their hair than let their locks fly free.
Thin-haired women want weaves.
In the 90s, it was all about “the Rachel“; in the 00s, it was all crimping and pixies and weaves (oh my!); in the 10s, it’s all about the ombre; in the future, all you’ll need is the right drug for the perfect hair!
Methinks Ms. Banks should try to promote a healthy relationship with ones natural hair instead of hoping for a future where, all that’s needed to fix ones aesthetic issues is to ingest something unnatural and foreign.
But I digress. We’re only on #2. Carrying on…
3. Global warming will threaten our crops so natural food will be scarce. Hourglass, curvy bodies will be the aspirational beauty standard, representing that those women have access to bounties of fulfilling yet healthy food, which means they are affluent.
WHAT IN THE PRESIDENT SNOW-GOVERNED PANEM IS THIS?! How did we go from global warming to curvy women?
I mean, score 1 for the promotion of a more healthy, curvy woman, but I’m just not here for the reasoning behind why curvy women will be revered.
4. The features of one’s baby will be as selectable as menu items at a fast-food drive-through window. Blue and green eyes will become so common that dark brown will become the rare and newly desired eye color.
Let’s recap: she thinks “uniqueness” will be praised and “traditional” will be obsolete, but with genetic engineering taking the wheel, who exactly will be “unique”? Unless she means that to us, in 2014, these children will look unique, but really, they’re just becoming the new “norm.” What is all of this saying? If children will be genetically engineered to their parents liking, then why will plastic surgery be sold like Tylenol? If we’re genetically engineering a master race — which, Earth to
Hitler Tyra, this is exactly what this is — then what is the need for surgery to alter appearances further? Unless people will be even more uneasy about appearances in the future and crave surgery in order to encapsulate some odd definition of “perfection.”
Either way, this sounds scary.
5. Skin color and features will mesh into a similar shade for the majority of people. Typical features and coloring will lean toward a Rihanna or Beyoncé or me kind of look. People with alabaster or ebony skin will be rare and heralded for that uniqueness.
I mean, this one could actually happen. If racial lines dissolve, more mixed children will be produced until we all look somewhat similar.
But our current “differences” are make us so unique and wonderful. Every skin tone is beautiful, and I hope to never see the day when the color spectrum is no more.
(Also, did anyone notice her use of “me”?)
6. Because beauty will be so readily accessible and skin color and features will be similar, prejudices based on physical features will be nearly eradicated. Prejudice will be socioeconomically based.
I just hate the idea that prejudice will end due to BEAUTY, of all (superficial) reasons.
7. Advertising for the beauty industry will have shifted. Since beauty will be easily attainable, models will be as relevant as a horse and buggy. Robot/avatar models with features that look totally different from the golden-skinned everyday people will represent and sell products world-wide.
So we go from stick-thin unattainable human women to an actual unattainable body model? Sounds like the girls of the future will have a hell of a time adapting to body standards.
8. Everyone will have at least one personal robot/assistant/companion. If a person allows that robot/assistant to suggest products paid for by sponsors, that person’s robot will be free of charge. In fact, that person will actually be paid to use the robot by a pool of advertisers. The robot will have super artificial intelligence and will be able to sense if its owner is having a low-self-esteem day and will then strategically give boosts of confidence to its owner. “Wow, Eloisa! Your eyes look especially lovely today.”
NOW IT ALL MAKES SENSE. In order to keep up with these new unhealthy body and beauty standards, women will have robots that will dispense shallow compliments to boost their egos! Notice how ALL of the new technology Tyra suggests exists in order to enhance personal beauty somehow. (Not-so) subtext: You’re not good enough. In fact, you were never good enough. And only with these advances in medicine and science will you actually be able to achieve perfection. Yay, you!
9. For those who choose not to go for plastic surgery, beauty ingestibles (active waters, etc.) will give instant, yet temporary results: contoured cheekbones, rosy cheeks, arched eyebrows. However, one must use them repeatedly to maintain results.
Temporary “fixes” already exist, Tyra. This is the real issue: We are constantly made to feel like we are not good enough if we don’t look or dress a certain way. Women wear make-up and fad diet and take #seflies at “just the right angle” all to appeal to…who? At the end of the day, we all have to appeal to ourselves. But where did we get the notion that we weren’t quite good enough to begin with?
The future that Tyra envisions sounds like every woman’s worst nightmare.
10. Women’s empowerment will be an irrelevant concept because the balance of power between the sexes will have shifted dramatically. Women, in control of when they can have children (up to age 120!), and having more degrees and education than men, will be in charge. Men will be responsible for 70% of cosmetics sales and plastic-surgery procedures world-wide. Why? Men will be vying for women’s attention, obsessed with being attractive to females and snagging well-off ladies who can take care of them.
I mean …
I’m ALL for the balance of power between the sexes shifting … toward true equality. Any real feminist will tell you that all they really want is full equality between both sexes, not a total power shift.
To me, it sounds as if Tyra is envisioning a world where she is Queen and sits atop of throne of failed America’s Next Top Model contestants. She wants a world where everyone is genetically perfect, yet can alter their body as easily as showering. She wants a world where only the women are educated, and 70% of the men are slaves to beauty products and achieving certifications in Professional Cougar Hunting.
But this isn’t the depiction of an ideal world. This isn’t a world built on equality. Or positivity. This isn’t something to look forward to, or to get excited about. This is something we need to actively work to avoid! It sounds like a lot like the”ideal” and superficial Capitol in The Hunger Games, which effectively makes Tyra Banks “President Snow. ” Kudos, Ms. Banks.
Honestly, I expected more from Ms. Banks, who so often promotes positive body affirmations. Now I’m beginning to think that it was all a front and that she believes that expectations will only get worse from here. Either way, let’s all hope that we can inch further toward a world where women can be proud of their bodies as they are.
Ladies, you are perfect.