Paperback, 224 pages
Duckling Ugly is the third in the Dark Fusion series by Neal Shusterman, the first two being Dread Locks and Red Rider’s Hood. Duckling Ugly fuses the stories of “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Fountain of Youth.” There’s one particular piece of this novel that struck me. The protagonist says
How do you judge beauty? They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that’s not true. Beauty is in the spirit of the world in which you live. It’s where the world tells you it is…and if your world finds beauty in the black pit of ugliness, then that’s where your beauty lies. (Shusterman, 2006, p. 200)
With the discussion of commodification (click the link for a definition) in a media class I took, and the stock that teenagers take on what they see on television, striving to be what can only be achieved with airbrushes, I’m inclined to agree with Shusterman here. I had a discussion with a friend of mine before school let out for the summer about Marilyn Monroe. We saw a picture of her on the wall at Dairy Queen. The question ended up being, at the time of The Seven Year Itch, how much did she weigh?
The idea is that people’s perception of what is beautiful is what the media says is beautiful. So if Marilyn Monroe (who is still considered beautiful) is put next to one of the skinny models of today, who do you think people want to look more like?
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Shusterman, N. (2006). Duckling Ugly. New York: Speak.