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Beth Underwood: Take it from Fluffy Sugar Cakes, there are worse things than an airbrushed nose


If you spend any amount of time on social media — especially in the world of Facebook — you’re probably familiar with all the quizzes that float around. Whether they measure your intelligence, pick your perfect color, or assess your ideal career, these tests answer the questions that have stumped the world’s greatest scholars. Or at least it’s entertaining to pretend they do.

One of the most popular types of quizzes takes you through a series of questions designed to lead to a specific outcome. These quizzes can tell you things like whether or not you have an outgoing personality, what your ideal career is, and which state you should live in. All things you’d otherwise have no way of knowing, right? Some can even tell you what cocktail best suits your personality. And who among us doesn’t want to know that?

These quizzes generally reinforce what we already know (or at least hope) to be true. And for the most part, we’re happy to share the results with the world. Unless, of course, we don’t get the results we were hoping for, in which case all bets are off.

The second type of quiz isn’t as much a quiz as a random assignment generated by an in-depth profile photo analysis (cough). Using completely unscientific methods that measure every wrinkle on your face (I’m guessing, here), the mysteries of the universe are uncovered with uncanny randomness, revealing, for example, your Star Wars alter ego, the initials of your soul mate or the quote that best describes your life.

It’s kind of like sticking a quarter in a gumball machine. Will your gum be blue or pink? Red or purple? White or green? Only the magic gumball machine knows for sure.

Typically the results of these random assignments are bearable — although one of my cousins took the guardian angel quiz, and the powers that be in the quiz world assigned her the angel of death. It’s all fun and games until the angel of death pops up.

The third and most recent fad in Facebook fun is not so much a quiz as it is a makeover tool capable of turning any photo into a glamour photo. Just upload the profile pic of your choice (or as some of my friends have done, upload them all) and go from meh to model in mere moments.

With a nip here, a tuck there, and a little airbrush everywhere, these computer-generated glamour shots could save a girl thousands in plastic surgery. Perfect hair, perfect eyes, perfect skin, perfect everything.

After seeing the results of friends, I asked myself if I really wanted to go down that road — if I really wanted to glamorize my photo.

What if I liked the results so much that I felt inclined to take whatever measures necessary to duplicate the look? What if seeing a photo of the me-that-could-be sent me spiraling into depression?

Moreover, what about all those ad campaigns geared at focusing on inner beauty over outward appeal? Had all their work been for naught? Could I not accept myself at, um, face value?

Armed with this newfound empowerment I decided that no glamour photo was worth it, no matter how beautiful it made me appear. I reasoned that I’d be better served looking for my leprechaun name or my Easter Bunny name — anything but the glamour shot.

Or maybe not.

I got Bubbly McMuffin and Fluffy Sugar Cakes, respectively. Looks like there are worse things in the world than an airbrushed nose.

Beth Underwood is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. She shares stories of everyday life that entertain, inspire, and encourage others. Her books include Gravity, a narrative nonfiction account of a small group of Tennessee National Guardsmen, and Talk Bourbon to Me, a lighthearted look at Kentucky’s native spirit. Drop her a line at beth@bethwrightunderwood.com, or visit her website at bethwrightunderwood.com.


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