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From the lifestyle section of the Portland Oregonian
The advertising blitz for Beauty started eight years ago. It was claimed to be an amazing product available in both aerosol and lotion form that made anyone who used it appear far younger and more attractive. The testimonials came from average citizens and fading celebrities. It seemed a bit odd at first that there were no “after” pictures, but the responses to those who had used it were glowing. “Your wrinkles and wattles are gone”, “you look so much younger”. At the end of the ads, it was made clear that the product changed the viewers, not the viewed.
Only after buying the product, did early users find out the details of how it worked. Chemicals from either the lotion or the spray permeate the atmosphere around the user with various effects. Some chemicals blurred the vision of those around the user making fine lines invisible; others were mood enhancers causing the viewers to be pleased with what they saw.
Beautynot only had huge penetration (advertising talk for sales), but provoked a huge national debate as illustrated by an interview with two neighbors in a Michigan park.
Clara Simpson angrily stated “I don’t care if it doesn’t change me or others, I like that when we use it we think that we are all more attractive. I’m a good person and a smart person, but my crooked nose, thin hair and fat ankles kept the men away before now. I’m not lonely now and it isn’t just the dates I get, people want to get to know me and talk to me now.”
Her neighbor Jean Heslow responded “OMG, Beauty is worse than padded bras and corsets, it’s totally fake. What’s so wrong with being natural? Beauty is nothing but technological beer goggles”.
Simpson responded “You’ve gotten by with your looks ever since you we were in high school. Everything was easy for you; you never had to work for anything. Are you afraid of competing on a level field with your advantage from your looks taken away?”
After the interviews, a brawl broke out between Simpson and Heslow leading to assault charges, suits and countersuits.
Pro and con Twitter threads got so big, that Twitter was down for three days, after which any tweet about “a product, which will be unnamed” was banned. A Busybody Survey’s poll with an accuracy within 3.5% stated that 22% of Americans approved of Beauty, 48% disapproved, and 30% didn’t respond. Because 35% of Americans used Beauty, the results were viewed with some skepticism. The results did not vary by political party, but white people and older people were more likely to approve of Beauty.
Many states passed laws to make it illegal for those under sixteen to use the product, because it was thought that they were too young to handle the effects. Those laws were as effective as those against underage drinking and smoking.
The American Love League, ALL, an organization whose goal was to “Make People Happy”, started an anti-Beauty campaign with the stated purpose of seeing beauty in everyone. It was an unfortunate decision to use the song “Everything Is Beautiful” by Ray Stevens of “Ahab The Arab” and “Guitarzan” fame as its theme song. The theme song was a bad choice because it made most of the target audience nauseous. ALL did lower the user rate of Beauty by 2%.
Early testing of Beauty did not reveal that four to six years after exposure to Beauty, people became immune to its effects, which dampened its use much more than the ALL campaign. Coincidentally, divorce rates doubled six years after it was first marketed. Despite the statistics, Clara Simpson and Jean Haslow are still together. After they cooled down following their fight, they decided to talk it out over coffee. They married a year later and are still going strong.
Appears in Short Humour and Down In The Dirt. Inspiration – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.