Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies is a story about a society where everyone turns “pretty” on their sixteenth birthday. However, when everyone turns “pretty” they are losing their beautiful individuality. Tally, the protagonist of the story, was very eager to get the operation to become “pretty” until she met another girl her age, Shay. Shay was very unsure about the operation and didn’t like the idea of looking “pretty” when it doesn’t actually look like her anymore. The main theme is that society can manipulate people’s thought to make them hate themselves for being themselves.
Shay grew up in the city, but, unlike Tally, she saw through their lies and she is determined to show Tally the truth too. Near the beginning of the book Tally is very eager to play with the wallscreen to see what Shay would look like after the operation as a pretty. However, Shay sees how pointless it is to pick out every feature wrong with her face and change it to a point where she just looks like every other pretty. While doing this, Shay said, “that’ s not me. It’s some committee’s idea of me.”(Westerfeld, 44 ) This shows that Shay understands what society is doing and she sees that once you change every feature of someone’s face it is no longer that person and Shay detests the idea of no longer being herself. Even after making this argument and many similar arguments, Shay had not convinced Tally, in this scene, that society was messing with her head. This shows that society can be very persuasive, especially when people are being told something for their entire lives.
“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.”
— Charles De Lint