The following is, obviously, a work of fiction.
NewBBC Correspondent, Los Angeles
Fifteen-year-old Chassidy Harmon-Rojas is facing an uncertain future.
Standing beside her classmates, Chassidy might seem like a normal teenager. She has long blonde hair and an glow of health from hours spent captaining her school’s volleyball team. Chassidy is also intellectually accomplished, having led her school’s debate team to victory in a regional competition last year.
But a closer look reveals that Chassidy is perilously close to falling short of California’s strict Beauty Laws.
“I think I’ve started to develop cellulite,” says Chassidy fearfully. “My hair sometimes gets brittle, even with product, which makes it look like it’s dyed, even though I’m totally natural. And my facial symmetry analysis just came in slightly under 80%. I’m really worried about next year.”
Beauty Laws are a part of life many states with robot-majority workforces. The Independent Republic of California, home to Silicon Valley, has a nearly 90% robotized workforce, and has implemented some of the strictest Beauty Laws on the planet.
While many states now require potential parents to undergo careful genetic screening, California’s list of unacceptable genetic defects includes conditions such as “frizzy hair” or “the tendency to develop crooked teeth”.
California lawmaker Xabiere Stetson-Shields is a staunch advocate of Beauty Laws.
“In times gone by, people fixed things like bad dental configuration with post-birth medical treatment, including the barbaric practice of attaching metal rods to children’s teeth, sometimes for years at a time. Parents were absolutely free from liability – they could pass on the worst genes with impunity. With careful screening we’ve built a population with the absolute best human traits.”
In cases like Chassidy’s, parents may have undergone genetic screening, but predicting precise outcomes is not always possible.
“We can determine the broad strokes to a high degree of accuracy,” says Professor Anakin Cantrell, Head of Selective Genetics at a leading Los Angeles fertility clinic, which serviced over 8,000 potential parents last year. “But in a very small percentage of cases, post-birth factors, or simply an unexpected gene interaction, may lead to an imperfect result. It’s sadly unavoidable but scientists have dedicated themselves to the problem and it’s conceivable that within a few short years, we may have eradicated this kind of genetic glitch altogether.”
Chassidy has just a few short months until she must take the Standardized Californian National Beauty Examination (SCNBE, or Scan-BE), which is mandated by law within two weeks of a resident’s sixteenth birthday.
“By sixteen, we can tell whether or not an individual will be a valuable addition to the state’s human population,” says Xabiere Stetson-Shields.
For Chassidy, the consequences of failing Scan-BE would be devastating. “I’d have to leave the State,” says a clearly distressed Chassidy. “My father has some distant relatives in Arizona, where the Beauty Laws are much less strict. But I’m seriously just thinking that if I fail I’ll be voluntarily exterminated. There’s not much point in being alive if you’re going to be ugly.”
Stetson-Shields is unmoved by Chassidy’s potential fate. “This is a 90% robotic economy. We don’t need people. They need to deserve to be here.”