Tyra Banks wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal making speculations about the future of women, beauty and technology. A part of my studies in college were discussing how technological interventions would change beauty standards and thus challenge and shift issues of race and class (for better or worse). I have to say, Tyra’s theories aren’t too different from many of the theorists I read back then and her predictions about how consumerism will work within the paradigm of technology, beauty and wealth seem pretty likely.
Is this Tyra sci-fi fan-fiction utopian? No, not at all, but I understand why she believes the world will look this way in the near future, even if it sounds sort of goofy now.
“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.”
Plastic surgery is on the trajectory of getting faster, cheaper and more convenient, USA Today wrote, ” Procedures that once included lengthy consultations with plastic surgeons and trips to the hospital, now often involve meetings in office-park surgery centers with salespeople who tell prospective patients what “work” they need and how little it can cost when performed in their offices.” In 2012, 23% of adults said they would get plastic surgery if it was cheaper. Imagine if it was really, really cheap and everyone else was doing it. Less stigma, less money = greater willingness to try.
“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.”
There is currently a hair serum on the market in the UK called Grow Gorgeous. The serum promises to boosts hair density by 13% in four months, that’s about 13,000 new hairs. Imagine this technology getting developed over the next 50 years?
“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.”
This isn’t surprising. Previously in history, fatness was a status symbol because it meant that you were affluent enough to fill up on a wide variety of foods. Today slimness is a status symbol because it means you can afford to eat healthier foods which are more expensive, afford to go to the gym, and health insurance, etc. We all know natural resources are getting scarce but it’s unclear if this will result in food scarcity.
“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.”
Just Google “designer babies” and you’ll find all kinds of juicy articles about how they are well on their way and only for “the rich.”
“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.”
Just Google “how people will look in the future” and you’ll see that all of our children will be sexy Beyoncés as soon as 2050.
“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.”
Such is already the case in terms of perception of marginalized groups (for example: middle class Blacks are perceived differently than lower class Blacks, etc.), although right now it is more complex than Tyra suggests.
“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.”
Over the last few years we’ve seen the shift from models to actresses on magazine covers. The result has been the pressure for actresses to look like models and maintain similar physiques. Now that everyone kind of looks the same and digital altering is on the rise, are CGI or robot models so farfetched?
“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.””
“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.”
Beauty ingestibles already exist, it’s only a matter of time before they work more effectively.
“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.”
Women are having children later in life and you can freeze your eggs, I don’t know about babies at 120 years old but I wouldn’t put anything past technology. Women are more educated than men stastically and leaning in. Gender roles are slowly diminishing. I see no reason why more men wouldn’t want a sugar mom in the future? I don’t think women will just “be in charge” but I do think things will be more equal.