Utne Blogs > Literature

Under the Needle, Atop the Ivory Tower

by Staff

Tags: Great Writing, Chronicle of Higher Education, Norma Desmond, Botox, identity politics,

Woman looking in mirror.“Attractive instructors are popular instructors. Popular instructors fill classes. More students mean more revenue,” Norma Desmond (a pseudonym) writes matter-of-factly for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Which is why toward the end of her job search, knowing she’d been typecast as an aging adjunct professor, Desmond decided to get Botox injections.

There’s so much emotional hype surrounding cosmetic surgery (who’s had it, who hasn’t, who never would, and who’s lying), that sometimes a really simple thing gets lost in the fray: Looks matter. Looks impact our lives. Good, bad, fair, unfair, frustrating—they do.

That’s what’s so fantastic about Desmond’s essay: She just tells the truth. As someone who “spent [her] middle years feeling slightly sorry for people who have felt the need to have their skin stretched tight as drumheads,” Desmond lucidly explains how she came to find herself sitting in a doctor’s chair.

Julie Hanus

Image by dawninmanswedding, licensed under Creative Commons