Short story: Beauty by algorithm

Short story: Beauty by algorithm

by Damian Bemben.

Its beauty was evident in the photograph. Her looks were perfect. A poreless face upon a soft landscape of a calm sea. The sunset in the background was without fault too, the sky creating a perfect burnt ember to crystalline twilight.

He had high cheekbones, a neat nose, catlike eyes. It’s lips where without cracks. Her smile was hauntingly perfect, created by a hundred thousand votes of perfect smiles.

It had segregated, analyzed and classified the aspects of each smile to ensure that he, and only she had the perfect one. It’s eyes where emeralds, or topaz, or maybe Pyrite? It didn’t matter. Each person saw him differently.

It’s hair, it’s skin, it’s gender all variable to the viewer.

It ensured it’s beholder that beauty would only be beholden to itself.

It was an impossible beauty that ruined all others, permeating a sort of sickness of the word itself;


He was on every billboard, in every advert in every tv show in every movie. She was Pygmallion’s burden to all who perceived her, but there was no Aphrodite to ease the pain. Each day perfection on every screen. Impossibility in every store, between each crack on each smart packaging.

A proportion of humanity became mad within weeks. They clung to it. Brought every product, watched every movie. You could tell who they where on the streets. They would each have iris implants, a small display lovingly drilled into the left retina.

Unremovable and ever present.

They would see her in they’re dreams. Advertisers had worked out fairly quickly that sleep-ads would improve product retention rates (PRR) by over 33%.

Ever-present. Each fast-fashion clung to her perfectly. Each drug slipped into his lips without side-effects. It slept in perfect mattresses and loved the perfumes that you’d buy. Even closing ones eyes would retain her. He’d ask why you didn’t buy the newest phone, the newest computer. It would guide your hands to the buy buttons, all while you slept.

They would shuffle across the streets, to different shops and buy all she demanded. Then they’d shuffle back to they’re rooms and sit and eat with him. This for each day. For each hour. For each minute.

Some clawed their eye, but they couldn’t escape her. You could tell them easily between the lines of vagrants in the tent-cities. They’d be the blindfolded ones, still clawing at they’re eyes, the last image in them of his perfect face.

Why did this tragedy occur? Why isn’t it still fixed?


Her face makes more money than any other face in the entire world.

So who are we to want to stop it?


Photo by Adam Sabljaković.

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