Alyssa R.

Second Place Winner

As I quietly turned the pages, I immersed myself in a world far different from any I had ever imagined; where the landscape resembled cat vomit and bedrooms were full of outlandishly eccentric technology. The new and fascinating society created by Scott Westerfeld in the novel, Uglies, revolved around the concept of beauty. All children anticipated the day when they would turn sixteen and be allowed to have cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance, which they believed to be ugly. People desired the opportunity to conform to the expectation of beauty that was upheld by all citizens. The novel explored the idea of defying conformity and embracing individuality to discover true happiness. Through demonstrations of rebellion, Westerfeld illustrated a corrupt, yet deluded society. I am intrigued by the mindset that was pushed onto the people in the Ugly and Pretty civilization, and the way in which all citizens truly believed in the necessity of beauty.

The society created by Westerfeld made me question the nature of the government and the immense power that they have over the human race. The novel suggests that most people welcome the requirements that leaders in positions of power uphold; however, I believe that acceptance of set morals is merely a mask of fear in the minds of the masses. No one wants to stand up and disagree with an all-powerful force that has the ability to negatively change their lives, so people simply follow orders and conform to the ideals laid out for them. I am curious as to how people influence the ideas and thoughts of others. Throughout history there have been numerous occurrences which coincide with the Uglies' society. In each of these events, citizens have willingly followed a despotic leader even though they feared their leader's orders. I wish to discover what state of mind one must be in to allow influences from others.

Mental states interest me because the state of the mind defines the difference of one human being from the next. I desire further explanation of the inner workings of the mind and plan to seek more knowledge by studying psychology. I think that once I am able to comprehend the different abilities of the mind, I will understand the ways in which humans accept and conform to influences. Although Uglies is based on the impact of the government, it has inspired me to look deeper into the different things that can affect people's state of mind. I would like to be able to aid those who have fallen subject to uncontrollable influences and addictions by providing therapy and counseling. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to get help with problems which have escalated to an unmanageable level. Hopefully, by counseling people who have experienced negative external influences and encouraging individuality, I will be able to make a difference in the lives of others.