Liking What You See: A Documentary (Chiang)

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Liking What You See: A Documentary
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: In a college campus, a debate was sparked over the technology 'calli', which inhibits people's ability to perceive physical beauty, effectively eradicating lookism. Despite passionate arguments, the motion to make 'calli' obligatory was eventually defeated.

The story reflects on the debates and personal experiences centering on a procedure called calliagnosia, also known as "calli". Pembleton University was discussing making calli mandatory for its students. Calli is a procedure that blocks neural pathways in the brain that evaluate physical attractiveness, thus, it nullifies any aesthetic reaction to people's appearances.

Maria deSouza — an active, committed third-year student and president of Students for Equality Everywhere; a passionate advocate of the 'calli' movement; serious, resourceful, politically astute and firm believer in equality.

Our goal is very simple. Pembleton University has a Code of Ethical Conduct, one that was created by the students themselves, and that all incoming students agree to follow when they enroll.

Some students were in favor of the initiative, arguing it could create a more equitable, less judgmental society. However, opponents claimed it infantilized people and took away the pleasure of beauty.

The deeper societal problem is lookism. For decades people've been willing to talk about racism and sexism, but they're still reluctant to talk about lookism.

Tamera Lyons, a freshman, had grown up in a calliagnosia community and was eagerly awaiting to have her calli turned off on her 18th birthday.

Tamera Lyons — An 18-year-old first-year student; eager to switch off her calliagnosia, intelligent; initially excited about having her own view towards attractiveness; thrilled about her face being pretty after calli removal notice.

When finally disabled, she slowly started to experience how attractiveness could shape interactions and relationships. Even debating to get back with her ex-boyfriend, Garrett, who had his calli on and later off.

Taking a different perspective, the founder of Saybrook School argued that calli could foster an environment free of appearance-based discrimination.

Richard Hamill — founder of the Saybrook School and a supporter of calliagnosia; wise and caring father, responsible, dedicated to education and his community.

Yet, Wyatt/Hayes, a PR firm secretly funded by the beauty sector, opposed the idea of calliagnosia. They argued that not everything natural is necessarily good and improving on nature could have repercussions.

The debate at Pembleton University did not result in making calli mandatory, but it made more individuals evaluate their perceptions and challenges associated with the physical attractiveness of others.