Degrees of Beauty

A short story

Published by Terraform

Pretty but not pretty enough, Bai Ling thinks, looking over to where her daughter lies sleeping, knees to breast, a whimper between her teeth. Around her throat, a necklace of bruises, teeth-marks on the nubs of her shoulders, battle-scars of the 22nd century.

Bai Ling tours an armada of glossy brochures, ricocheting between clinics, circling procedures, underlining discounts. She has a plan.

Blepharoplasty to divide the monolid, sharpen the epicanthic fold. FDA-approved tinctures in the iris: indigo with constellations of hypoallergenic gold, all to tempt the camera’s attention. And eyelash transplants too, of course, Mediterranean-thick, so much more appealing than fine Asian hair. On a notebook, she pencils more radical suggestions: dilation of the orbital bones, deepening of the sockets, modifications to manufacture the illusion of vulnerability. Fashion craves victims, vestal virgins to hang in garlands of silk. These will have to be discussed, but Bai Ling already knows she will get her way.

Read the full story at Terraform