Facial Justice by LP Hartley is not a good book. In fact, I would say it is a pretty terrible book. Bad plot, bad characters, badly written.
Yet, I am still featuring it here because the book’s big idea is brilliant. Facial Justice imagines a not too distant future where women are forced to have surgery to look alike, in the name of social justice and equality. After all, it’s not fair that some people are born prettier than others, is it?
(Then again, how is it fair that plainer girls don’t have to have horrible, painful surgery to have their looks demoted to the acceptable standard? In Facial Justice, of course, the plainer socially acceptable girls who were born that way soon develop a superiority complex over both the formerly pretty girls who had to have surgery to achieve the desired aesthetic. You see the problem? Always something to envy.)
Sounds absurd, but it’s not. It’s a spot-on metaphor for today’s society and our obsession with “equality” at all costs.
Of course “equality” is a mug’s game (pardon the pun), a practical impossibility. It is impossible to achieve without creating more inequality pop up somewhere else. Get economic equality right and inequality of attractiveness, or location will rise to center stage. We can always find something else to be envious about. It’s in our DNA.
Equality of opportunity or equality before the law – we only get to pick one. The option we pick determines the future of our society. Best we choose carefully.