Mind-Rain book give away!

One of the fun things about being a writer is getting to rub shoulders with other authors. (Another is living vicariously through your characters while they do things like tell off people who remind you of your home owners’ association board, but I digress.)

I was happy when Ben Bella Books asked me to write an essay for a book they were doing on Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series. I really enjoyed the books, so not only did I get to pontificate on the role of beauty in our society, but I also got the thrill of knowing that Scott Westerfeld himself read and edited my essay. (Yes, This is how much of a book geek I am. I was like, “Scott Westerfeld’s eyeballs read the words I wrote!” I think this means I am allowed to hang out socially with him now, you know, assuming I ever meet him in real life.)

So the book is officially out now. It’s called Mind-Rain and is available at your local Borders.

Here is a blurb from my essay about the role of beauty in our society:

When I was a teenager I read a book of difficult questions. One of them was: Would you choose to be beautiful if it meant you’d lose five years from your life span?

Would you?

The question bothered me because I knew the answer should be easy—who in their right mind would trade part of their life—1,825 days—just to look good? Looking good doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of your life.

But I kept finding myself wanting to refine the question. Exactly how ugly would I have to be to have that extra five years? And were we talking about a life span of seventy years? Eighty years? Perhaps only forty? The question just wouldn’t go away. The answer hovered around, revealing all sorts of uncomfortable things about myself and my society–because let’s face it we do judge people based on looks.

Oh, as a society we like to pretend that we aren’t really all that vain, that we don’t obsess about our appearances, and that we’re capable of seeing past all the superficial stuff. As Martin Luther King Jr. would say, if you know, he happened to live in a Scott Westerfeld novel: People should not be judged by the prettiness of their skin, but by the content of their character.

We throw around phrases to emphasize the point. Beauty is only skin deep. Beauty is as beauty does. It’s what inside that really matters. You can’t judge a book by its cover.

Any high school freshman will tell you differently. As will your local plastic surgeon, or the person in charge of hiring models for advertisements.

If you want to sell something, you show a beautiful person holding, eating, wearing, or driving it. There is a reason we call beautiful people attractive. We are attracted to them just because of their looks. As a society we want to be them so badly that we will buy the soda we see them drinking, the clothes we see them wearing, and the cars we see them driving.

Okay for those of you who are still with me, to be the winner of a free copy of Mind Rain, answer the question: Would you trade five years of your life to be beautiful? Why or why not?


  1. Melanie J
    June 4, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    I wouldn’t. I’m pretty enough and don’t feel the need to trade for more.

    Hm. That was honest.

    Anyway, there’s a similar question I saw on someone else’s blog that’s been bugging me for weeks now: would you rather be liked by the entire world or loved by one half and hated by the other?

    I go round and round on this one and it’s making me nuts.

  2. Julie Wright
    June 4, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    I LOVE Scott Westerfeld!!!! I don’t have time to be beautiful. I’m taking the years. Five years represents 20 summers, winters, springs, and falls. 1825 sunsets. An uncountable amount of hugs, smiles, giggles, time to go to the beach, time to go to the mountains, time to read, and time to write! Think how many books I could get done in five years. Yep–keep me ugly and hand over the years.

  3. Meredith
    June 4, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    I don’t think I would. I like the way I look. I mean sure there are a couple of things I would change, but I can change those myself and I wouldn’t need to lose the 5 years required in the question. I would much rather be the way I am for another 5 years with my loved ones having fun, than to lose those 5 years.

    ~Meredith F.

  4. Mary Campbell
    June 4, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I have a good looking husband and three beautiful children, but I have never really been pleased by what I see in the mirror. There was a brief period in my young adulthood where I came close to being happy with the way I look, but it was fleeting. Now as I look in the mirror and find more and more gray hairs and lines around my eyes, I feel as if I’ve been cheated. The look of my body bothers me even more than my aging face. I feel as if I never reached my full pretty potential. So, I have to admit that being beautiful and losing five years off my life is a tempting offer. I can’t believe I’m admitting that – it almost feels as if I would be selling my soul.

  5. Lu Ann Brobst Staheli
    June 4, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    I would not. I’ve never been what most people call beautiful—although my husband, bless his heart, thinks I am—so why would I give up the life that has made me happy for something that is shallow and fleeting? I look at photos of myself from just five years ago and I see dramatic changes, some that make me sad, others that are frustrating, but most that represent the good life I’ve had. The change to beautiful would be too dramatic, but the change back at the end of five years would be traumatic. So, let me stay who and I am and be happy.

  6. azang
    June 4, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    How cool is this? Congrats on the story!!!

    Hmmm….I seem to think that you still owe me a soon-to-be-released book, right? But I’ll be a greedy guts and put in for this one too.

    The question isn’t as simple as “would you give up five years of your life.” Because I think the amount of time you have left would have some bearing on that question. While I am happy with the way I look, society has deemed me ugly because I’m too short and I’m fat…being older now does me in as well in the eyes of society. In fact I’ve been hated for these attributes. In some cases the five years seem completely worth it. Now, if you were asking if I would give five years to be fit and have no pain, I think I would say yes to that right away. Sounds like I might earn the five years back again under those circumstances. Back to the first question though, I understand beauty is more than skin deep. I’ve seen attractive people that were so ugly on the inside that they stank of ugliness. But there are times when I’m being treated like excrement on shoe bottoms that I would love to see how these people would treat me if I was suddenly the classic beauty. But wouldn’t that make me as shallow as they are?

    I did get a small glimpse though that was satisfying. The next time I see you, remind me and I’ll tell you the story.

    Thanks for the great workshop last weekend. You rocked the house!

  7. Krista Darrach
    June 4, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    I do really think that this question depends on where you are in life.
    20 years ago…I might have said yes…because I didn’t think I was good enough.
    Today I KNOW I’m good enough and it doesn’t have anything to do with my outside appearance.
    I remember meeting a girl at a meeting of some sort. I thought she was gorgeous – she made a comment to me that blew me away…she said she would give anything to be pretty. I was floored. It was then (I was 19 yrs old) that I started to realize, “It’s an INSIDE job.”
    So no, I wouldn’t trade 5 precious years for anything.

  8. Tamir
    June 5, 2009 at 12:46 am

    NO WAY! Life’s too short as it is. I think it would be foolish to trade away years to be pretty. That seems a bit shallow as well. And when your time is up, I bet you’d wish you never had done that trading and would rather be ugly again for more time.

    Plus, what would you feel you gained for being pretty. For single women, a couple more dates, more appraisal from others, things that don’t really matter.

    I’d rather have more time on Earth to spend with my family and friends and people who already accept me looking as I do.

  9. Douglas Cootey
    June 5, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Would I trade five years of my life away to be beautiful?

    If I knew I would live to see 100 years on this Earth, then living for only 95 of them in exchange for rocking the world as a hottie might be tempting. I don’t consider myself particularly ugly. I just need to remember never to smile.

    My teeth are like piano keys, out of tune, yellowed due to a freak accident with flouride as a child, and spaced so widely that I can rent my mouth out for parking during sports events. My smile is an unsightly blemish on my face no amount of acne medication can cure. I bear deep rooted scars due to those spaces. They have robbed me of self-esteem and respect. Tragically, my teeth have been making a glacier-like journey to the back of my mouth for decades. By the time I’m 95 I’ll only be able to chew when I swallow.

    I would trade five years in an instant if beauty meant I could smile and people wouldn’t recoil in revulsion.

    Then again, what if I’m only going to live until I’m 60? Then 55 isn’t really old enough to be worth the trade. I’d live long enough to pay off my wife’s school loan before she flew off to the Bahamas on my life insurance with a man she met at the senior’s center soon after my funeral. Worse yet, what if I am only going to live until I’m 47? Then you’d make me beautiful just in time for me to die. Where’s the fun in that?

    Life is a commodity that I treasure because I have no idea how much of it I have left. Making me beautiful in exchange for five precious years is too high a price to ask. However, if you throw in an 18 year old’s metabolism along with a God-like physique, I’d toss in another five just as a tip.

  10. Alysa
    June 5, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Someone else probably wants the book more than me, so don’t enter me. But I had to weigh in.

    I think this is really an odd question. I mean, I don’t know much about plastic surgery and it’s long term health effects, but I DO know that many things that will make you pretty will make you live LONGER.

    Take, for instance, regular excersise. Eating healthy. Proper hygiene.

    It seems to me that the real question is “Would you be willing to work now and always, tirelessly, in order to be pretty and live longer?”

    For me, the answer to that question is “…mostly…”

    As for your original question, I’d say no. Super hotties have all kinds of problems that us regular hotties don’t have to deal with. I’ll keep the problems I’ve got.

  11. Hannah
    June 5, 2009 at 7:41 am

    That is an incredibly difficult question. I would like to think that I would say no thanks, I’ll keep my life, but I have points of desperation when, if asked, I would definitely say yes. At this particular moment, though, I would not trade even a day of my life for beauty.

  12. Kelsi Rose
    June 5, 2009 at 8:06 am

    I wouldn’t trade a day of my life to be beautiful. I may not have good looks (although if you ask my parents or bf, they may say otherwise), but there are so many other things in life that are important to me than looks. I grew up with parents that told me on a regular basis how beautiful they thought I was (even in my awkward tomboy phase). I don’t always believe them, but I believed in myself because they believed in me. As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that I am grateful for the life I have. I haven’t had to deal with self doubts because I was raised with supporting parents that some of my beautiful (appearance wise)friends (I have a ton of them) have had to deal with.

  13. Annette Lyon
    June 5, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I think in my teens I would have. (Let’s say I had a very AWKWARD stage and wasn’t sure of myself.) Now? No way.

    (I wanna win! I love his books!)

  14. Cheryl
    June 5, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I’d take the years over the beauty. Easy.

    I think it mostly has to do with the fact that the older I get, the more comfortable I am in my own skin –and the more I realize that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Plus, as I get older, I realize I’m running out of time! Kind of obvious, eh?

    Anyway, time over beauty any day. 🙂

  15. megs
    June 5, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Definitely not. I’m already gorgeous….

    To be truthful, I am not an attention seeking person, and although I enjoy looking nice, I don’t mind not being noticed. I’d rather live five years longer and just get rid of all the mirrors.

  16. Carlene
    June 5, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I dont think I could trade 5 years with my kids and grandkids for beauty. I like me the way I am and want to keep those 5 years to be with my family. Please include me in your giveaway.

  17. Laurieann
    June 5, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Call me shallow. I’ll take the beauty.

  18. Elise
    June 5, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Considering where I’m at in life, I would much rather live 5 years longer than be drop-dead-gorgeous. I know I’m probably in the “cute” range and that works for me. Being that good looking doesn’t necessarily even sound worth it when I’ve heard from some really beautiful people how people have oddly high expectations of them simply because of their looks. And, you know, if I were any more beautiful people would think I am dumb. Because for some reason in this world beautiful=brainless. But I guess cute = can-be-smart.

  19. Amanda
    June 5, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Haha, I suppose if I could choose WHICH five years to trade, I might, but just five years flat-out, no. I’m comfortable with myself and my family, and don’t need to worry about attacting anyone else.

    Thanks for holding the contest!

  20. Bookworm134
    June 5, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Would I trade five years of your life to be beautiful? Why or why not?

    I started to say that it depends but then I thought about the question a little more and I don’t think I would do it, ever, in my life right now…Now if you asked my this in high school I probably would have jump at the chance…but I am just too happy in my life to lose any more time…even if it ment all the time in the world…

    Now about the question Melanie J asked…would you rather be liked by the entire world or loved by one half and hated by the other?

    I would have to say liked by entire world…I am not good with confrontation and I could not live if I knew that many people hated me…

    Thanks for the great blog…

  21. Janelle
    June 5, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I feel good enough about the way I look that I would like to keep all the time I have.

  22. earwaxtasteslikecrayons
    June 5, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I’d definitely choose the time. After all, the people I’d want to be spending that time with love me no matter what I look like.


  23. Christa Holland
    June 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    This is an interesting question. I agree that it brings about more questions – I want specifics! : ) When would these five years happen? While I was senile in my old age? Or during my youth, which is stereotyped as the most beautiful time of life (at least as far as your body’s appearance)? Wouldn’t this impact the answer?

    Also, would you be gorgeous, thin & attractive for your whole life? Or would the thinness be able to wear off as time goes on? (ie the effects of bearing children for those of us that are female). If it’s a temporary result, then of course, not, why bother?

    Further, I find Alysa’s input interesting (10th or so post down), exercise & eating healthy both contribute to both beauty & long life.

    In the end, I wouldn’t do it. There are only minor changes I’d like to make (who wouldn’t?) so I don’t think it’d be worth it.

    : ) I guess that’s my 2 cents.

  24. Snorkle
    June 5, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    As tempting as it would be to be more “attractive” I’d say that the thought of losing 5 years is way more horrifying. So many things just happen in one week, and to think that I would miss 5 years, it is almost crazy. I’d much rather look like myself, be with the people I love, do the things I want and have an extra five years to spare then be more beautiful. I think I’m nice enough looking (on good days, there are certainly the days that i wake up in the morning, take one look at my face and am already sick of it) Still, I’m used to my face, if I suddenly got a different one, it would take a decent amount of time getting used to. Nope, I’d definitely go with the five years. That would be five more years to write, take photography, be with my family, and read more books.

  25. Paradox
    June 5, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    I would never agree to that! The idea that beauty matters more than living life to the fullest has always disgusted me. People should learn to accept themselves and others as they are!

    I am a huge Westerfeld fan, so I really want to read this book!!!

    paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

  26. Jenna
    June 5, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    First…wow the comment from Luann, what a great answer and great perspective on life.

    My answer is totally different now that I am a mom than it would have been when I was in junior high…

    I’ll take the 5 five years hands down…I want as much time as I can get with my crazy, beautiful boys.

  27. tikimick
    June 5, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Here’s the thing. If I trade 5 years for beauty, I’ll start to be treated differently. The people that I look at and despise for their beauty (more for taking advantage of that beauty and harming themselves and others.) is not something I want to become. I can guarantee that anyone who becomes this kind of beautiful and loses 5 years, will turn into that person. Many will say they won’t, but, like in Pretties with the surge changing how they thought, the new “friends” are more important than their old ones. Their not pretty, not fun, booooooring old friends.

    No thank you, I’ll keep my flavour of pretty <3 (This question is kindof silly for me to answer anyway, I think everyone's...okay, most everyone’s beautiful.)

  28. mindy
    June 5, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    no because beauty should be from the inside out not the outside in

  29. whatever2u_girl
    June 5, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Living in a world with everyone trying to be beautiful and everyone looking on the outside, I have to admit that it’s an offer that’s hard to resist. But if I was given the offer, I would have to refuse. I couldn’t imagine giving up five years of my life just to be beautiful. Nothing in this world, not even beauty, is more precious than life itself. Just living and enjoying life is ecstasy. Honestly though, if I would have been asked this question a few years ago, I probably would have said yes in a heartbeat. But now I realize that the media is distorting our society’s perception of beauty. It’s what inside that counts and I’m not going to waste trying to live up to this airbrush beauty on TV. I use to think I was not as pretty as those around me, and sometimes I still do, but now at least I know what beauty is. Yes, beauty is defined but as how you look but it is so much more than that. A persons intelligence, personality, and even unique quirks make him or her beautiful. So even without giving up five years of my life, I already have beauty. Everyone has a different interpretation of it and it’s all based on how you look at yourself. Or if you think you need to give up five years to be what society calls “beautiful”.

    June 5, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    nope- to me I look at whats going on inside- the heart and soul.. I am me and the way God made me- I guess I am not into all the repair a scar, etc but instead that scar tells a story and those wrinkles are earned and are and should be a badge of pride.

  31. texasheartland
    June 5, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I wouldn’t trade 5 years of my life to be beautiful. Our societies description of “beautiful” is false and bears no witness to how a person is beautiful on the outside just because of their beautiful personality on the inside. I have a beautiful personality so therefore, I consider myself physically beautiful.


  32. Debbie
    June 5, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Honestly, no. I’m so happy with my life. I don’t want to lose a minute of it.

  33. Danyelle
    June 5, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    This sounds like an interesting book. 🙂

    Would I trade five years to be beautiful? No. The world is filled with so many moments of wonder and magic, that to waste just one of those would be foolish–especially just so one could be beautiful. For me, there’s beauty and there’s Beauty. Do I want to be part of the wonder that takes another’s breath away? Honestly, yes. But not in the superficial way. I want to be a beautiful person, not look like a beautiful person. And the only way to gain that type of beauty is through life and experience, through learning and growing. And that can’t happen if I’m so caught up on what my outsides are doing that I neglect my insides. 😀

  34. Jay-wa
    June 5, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    I would say I’d rather be ‘ugly’ and live five years longer. You might have greater life experiences in those five years you’re living then spending whatever life-time beautiful and with those experiences. Sometimes when you’re beautiful, you get taken advantage of or become overly-cautious. So I’d stay ‘ugly’. And as a high-school freshman, I’d agree with what you wrote. But sometimes the ‘pretty girls’ make dumb decisions. I think of myself as pretty, and if no one else agrees, I guess that’s it. 😀

  35. Lady Roxi
    June 5, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Love to have this.

    I absolutely would!! I have been called ugly many times so 5 years seems nothing to trade.



  36. Anonymous
    June 5, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Mary D
    zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

    Tough question! And difficult to answer without knowing aforehand the variables, such as alloted lifespan etc.
    While for the majority of my life I’ve been considered very pretty, some have said beautiful but I think they are liars hahaha, anyway, at this stage of my life I would have to say no. My time with my children is simply too precious!

  37. berlinwritergirl
    June 5, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I think I might have said yes to this fifteen years ago, when I was in high school and things such as getting asked to the prom or not being the only friend without a date for Friday night, seemed like some of life’s biggest problems.
    But luckily life happened to me and I now can say I see the world in a clearer way. My father passed away the summer after high school. I only got 19 years with him, what if five of my pretty years would have been time with my dad?
    I got the opportunity to live and serve people in a country filled with poverty and disease, what if the five years I lost meant I would have never learned how to see beauty in a whole new way.
    I found a wonderful husband and now have 3 amazing kids. I would not trade one day away from them for a clear complexion or perfectly straight teeth.
    So I guess if this were a magic question I am glad I heard it now, and not then because five years is too long to miss out on no matter how fun the prom might seem!!!

  38. the epitome of randomness
    June 5, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    This reminds me of a deal in the anime Death Note – you can trade 20 years of your life for the power to see a persons name and when they are going to die. Three people do that in the show.
    But five years for beauty? I wouldn’t do that. If it gave me 20-20 vision and perfect hearing for life I would seriously consider it, but for beauty, no.
    We would give up 5 lots of five hundred, twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes.
    That’s five years where you could fall in love, marry, have kids, become a worldwide celebrity, inspire someone, write, read, sing, dance, believe, and bring joy.
    So much has happened in the previous five years, and so much has changed, including our perceptions of beauty, even if they do change slowly.
    Sure, I look in many mirrors (and many other reflective surfaces) over a day, and a lot of the time at a glance I don’t like what I see. But if I look closer, I like my bug eyes and big nose. They come from my parents, and I don’t want to lose those. They gave them to me, and I’m damn well going to enjoy them.
    So in short, no. I would not throw away five years of my life for looking good. I already have people who love me for me, and that is more than enough.
    Beauty is fleeting, love is eternal.

  39. Asenath
    June 6, 2009 at 9:53 am

    I think many people are forgetting how long it takes to get ready in the mornings…if I could wake up first thing and have my hair look amazing, and my face be flawless, I would save so much time–probably more than 5 years over the course of a normal life span (but I’m not going to do the math so don’t ask.)
    Keep me beautiful forever!

  40. wendy
    June 6, 2009 at 10:27 am

    As true beauty really comes from within, I most definitely would not trade even a moment of my life to be ” beautiful”.

    madamerkf at aol dot com

  41. Haley
    June 6, 2009 at 10:51 am

    I really don’t know what I would do? It’s a hard choice. But What I think I would do is what I can tell you. I think I would keep 5 years on my life, even the though I failed two classes, and didn’t get to march on the football field when we played at Texas stadium. And I don’t think I’d want to forget that I brought my grades up, and was able to play at the Texas stadium twice after that for playoff games, and we got to march through the tunel (very fun by the way). And I wouldn’t remember that we one state and went to San Antonio! And there are other things I wouldn’t want to forget. Good and Bad things. They will stay with me forever. Well at least I hope they stay with me forever…

  42. Kasey
    June 6, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I definitely would never trade away five years of my life to be pretty. As much as I think everyone would like to be attractive, I pride myself and trying to stay above being that petty. Yes, I would like to be attractive. If I am not, no, its not the end of the world. I have too many other things to live for and too many things I want to do with my life to waste five years so that somebody else can think I’m attractive.

    Which brings me to another point. Who would I even be attractive too? Just myself? Or would everybody find my attractive? And honestly, would I even want that many people to think I’m beautiful? I would rather be ugly and have people appreciate me because of something I’ve done, or said or created, than because of how I look.

  43. Sandra
    June 6, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Just before I read your blog, I was laughing with a friend about how nice it would be to have our 20-year-old bodies back! And if I could have the Scott Westerfeld indestructable bones and teeth, that might just seal the deal. I would be sooo tempted, but it would be in a sell-your-soul-to-the-devil sort of way. It’s easier to agree to give up something later than something now. (That’s what credit cards are for.)

    Thanks for all the great comments. It makes me feel so much better!

  44. Shar
    June 6, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I love reading your blog because I always leave with something to think about.

    So…normally I would say without a doubt, NO WAY would I give up 5 years! But being pregnant and thinking about all the hard work that it’s going to take to get a beautiful body back…now that makes me want to take that deal in a minute.
    But then, that would be 5 years lost of time with my kids, so I think I’ll stick around awhile longer, even if it means I have to work out really hard to try to be “outside beautiful” again.
    In two months, when this child arrives and everything is saggy, my answer may be different. But for today, I’ll keep my own self.

  45. Kiirsi
    June 7, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Very thought-provoking question. I used to ask myself similar questions as a teenager/young adult: if I were granted one wish about myself, what would it be? I was always stuck between having a beautiful voice/being perfectly in shape and healthy/having all allergies gone (I love animals and can’t be around any).

    But to answer your question, I would say no. Because as much as I want to be slender and pretty and able to buy some of those lovely clothes I see in the stores, I love my family and life more. I wouldn’t give up a single day with them.

  46. Sally H
    June 7, 2009 at 11:23 am

    No. Life if beautiful. In this day and age, it may be looks that will get you on the A-list. But is that really what anyone wants? Wouldn’t you rather live a long happy life with a family who loves you? As Dr. Suess said “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Being pretty wont make you anymore friends, and the ones it does make you, do you really want them anyways? Your real friends wont care if your ugly. Think of all the changes you could make to the world in 5 years. In 5 years, you could save a life. In 5 years, you could get married. You could start another generation. So trade that for beauty that will only get you superficial things? Never.

  47. Ladytink_534
    June 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Honestly, I thought about it for a second but I’m decent looking I guess and my husband loves me the way I am so I think I’ll take those five years instead. I just love Westerfeild so I’d really like to read this.

  48. Jenilyn
    June 7, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    I probably would do it, especially if it were the last five years when I’m old, senile, and terrorizing the nursing staff at the care center. So, see, I’m only choosing to be beautiful to help those around me. It’s really just an altruistic sort of thing.

  49. megan
    June 8, 2009 at 10:06 am

    It’s a simple question, but it brings up so many other controversial issues in my mind that I have a difficult time focusing on that one question.

    I’m going to be honest. I think that five years is more important than beauty in theory, but in practice, I think that beauty would be more tempting.

    Not only are humans all creatures with an overwhelming sense of self-preservation, we’re also creatures of vanity. More than anything else, most of us care about how others view us. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not a good thing.

    So while I’d like to sit here like everyone else and tell you that I would take the years, I would most likely take the beauty. Because let’s face it, pretty people are more likely to make something of themselves, simply because people are more attracted to them. If two people with all the same credentials and all the same qualifications, but the boss thinks the one is simply gorgeous then guess who’s going to get the job? Yeah… that’s what I was thinking too.

  50. alainn_chaser
    June 8, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Well to be perfectly honest my first thought was: what if you are supposed to die in five years? Then you make the deal and immediatly die. Sure you probably leave a nice corpse but what do you care, your dead.

    Or what if in those five years you were supposed to cure cancer? Anyway you look at it you pretty much come out of it looking stupid and selfish.

    So I would take the five years of living and possible-cancer-curing.

  51. Elizabeth
    June 9, 2009 at 9:09 am

    It’s a difficult question mainly because everyone has a different opinion on who is beautiful. Would I trade 5 years to be beautiful? I would not. I would rather spend the five years learning to think of myself as beautiful.

  52. Dee
    June 9, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    To properly answer this question, the term ‘beauty’ must be properly defined. The first assumption is that it is reffering to physical beauty, but it may also mean the inner beauty of a person’s character. Would I trade 5 years of my life for beauty, inner and out? To change my face, to change by body, my mind- even if they were ‘ugly’?
    Overall, a person will make their descision based on how either option will impact on thier quality of life. This brings me to my decision- will I be happy, if my mind was changed, even for the ‘better’? Knowing that every decision that I make is made based on what the world thinks a beautiful soul would do? My answer is no. I would not find happiness in this; for every decision to not be made by my true self, every action to be governed not by the experiences that I have gained, but by an imposed belief of society.
    To sum up, no- not because I am happy with how I look, not because it is the right thing to say, and not because I would loose preciouse time- but because, after all is said and done, and no matter how long my life was, I could never live a fulfiling life knowing that I had not made my own way, no matter which way that is.

  53. katsudono
    June 10, 2009 at 3:59 am

    I probably wouldn’t. 5 years is a long time, but I do have a thing where I don’t want to live long. Living into my 80s is just too much for me, to see the world I used to know to kind of disintegrate into something I can’t even communicate with or even understand properly.

    But I think I’m fine with the way I look; it’s not as if I’m extremely ugly or hauntingly (what a word) beautiful, I’m kind of in the middle and I’m happy with that. Plus, beauty is so subjective, that becoming ‘beautiful’ may be unrealistic; Barbie is regarded as beautiful, but seriously, she wouldn’t be able to livein the real world.

    Yes, that’s my rant for now. xD

  54. Kimberly
    June 10, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I’ve read the series about a dozen times now and find new thoughts surfacing every time I do.

    I don’t much like my personal answer to the question you posed in your essay. It goes along the lines of, “Maybe. So long as I could go back in time and be gorgeous from age nine onwards.”

    So sad.

  55. firedancer731
    June 10, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    That depends on several factors I think. Ultimately, my response is: No. However, is the difference from 85 years old to 80? Or 45 to 40? If I had to choose from 85 to 80, I think I just might choose to be made more beautiful. 45 to 40, no way. I plan on having children and want to be around for my children’s children, etc.

  56. Kaylie
    June 11, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Give away five years to be beautiful: life is to precious to give away. Many people loose there life, before there time. i am sure they would give anything to have that time back, being beautiful! it didnt matter, they could be beat ugly for all they care, they got to live onse second more, than they would have ever thought. Image seem to be the ¨Sun¨ of the entertainment indrusty; its the sun, becuase everything revloves around it. What happened to the advertisments of Dove? being beautiful any shape any size. I dont think anyone is ugly, they have been given the body they have for a reason, not to waste five years away to change, who they had been designed to be. When you first look at this question you would say! yeah sure! whats five years? well the last five years of my life, i acomplish, starting to write a book, getting my permit, spending countless of number of times, seeing my friends, takingover 4,00 pictures, traveling state to state, listening to britney spears, breaking my two front teeth ice skating new years eve, going to concerts, making so many relationships, going to brasil, seeing the most beufitful things in the world. It breath taking. And say i were to die tomorrow, and i had the opportunity when i was ten to be beautiful for the rest of my life, and loose five years of my life. These past five years, made me who i am today, and the person i am today, i think is beautiful in her own way. and i would not trade anything in the world, for my past five years. so to answer that question, no. i would not Change myself to be beautiful, because i already am, im beautiful in my flaws, in my laughter, in my soul. and thats all that matters. I dont need to takeaway five years to tell me that.

  57. Jay
    June 20, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  58. Jay
    June 20, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Would I, no. Would I imagine too, yes. Don’t we all imagine what it would be like at one point in our lives? Even if we don’t have operations when we turn 16, our brains would change with beauty – or at least I think they would. Especially if I’m going to act differently, probably by “letting it get to my head,” I wouldn’t trade them at all. By trade I get the impression after that I’d go back to normal? What’s the use? Or by trade it means I’ll go from today, normal (or ugly), to beautiful, a 2009 version of a bubbly, possibly? It would be a different lifestyle..or at least people would look at me differently. I like being me.

  59. Amy
    June 23, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Although I would like to say that I would never trade five years of my life for beauty, given the choice, I probably would. Being a teenager in today’s society I know that I shouldn’t care how I look. Every adult in my life tells me that, and I, to some degree, absolutely agree with what they have to say. However, I’m not going to lie. I would say that 5 years out of 80-something isn’t that big of a deal, really. Beautiful people tend to do better in society. And what beauty does is allow you to get more places in life. Now, I’m not saying I would flaunt my beauty either. Trade 5 years for a better chance at being successful in life? Yes, please.

  60. Lindsay
    July 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I would not give away five years of my life to be beautiful. It’s a waste of a life and time. What makes Westerfeld’s novel so scary, but beguiling is how there really are people that would go to extreme lengths for some preconceived form of beauty.

  61. 123 123
    January 13, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Nice post as for me. It would be great to read something more about this theme. Thnx for posting that information.
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