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“On Being a Cripple” by Nancy Mairs
“The Age of Instagram Face” by Jia Tolentino
Formatting requirements:
One-inch margins, typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12
Name, professor’s name, class code, and due date in the upper left corner
Page numbers in the upper right corner, preceded by your last name
Original title in regular type and centered
Citations in MLA format on a separate page: (Links to an external site.). This page does not count toward the five-page requirement.
In her essay “The Age of Instagram Face,” Jia Tolentino discusses the aesthetic of generic sameness present on Instagram and especially visible in the phenomenon she calls the Instagram face. The aesthetic’s strength is in its monotony and repetitiveness, and it turns out that bodies and faces can be infinitely modified to meet the criteria of this aesthetic, either with the use of editing tools or with the use of plastic surgery. According to a celebrity makeup artist quoted in the essay, “People are absolutely getting prettier . . . The world is so visual right now, and it’s only getting more visual, and people want to upgrade the way they relate to it” (3). People around us are getting prettier: what could be wrong with that? Perhaps reading Tolentino’s essay on its own doesn’t answer this question in a satisfactory way, but when it is paired with Nancy Mairs’ “On Being a Cripple,” it can lead us to some interesting reflections on the nature of beauty, on social expectations and perception, and on the ever narrowing standards that people are trying to meet, seemingly to no avail.
Using examples from both texts, answer one of the following questions. I REPEAT: CHOOSE ONLY ONE OF THE QUESTIONS.
How does the concept of “generic sameness” illuminate your reading of Mairs’ essay? (lens essay)
Alternatively, you can answer the following question:
What implications might IG culture have for people who fall outside the narrowly defined aesthetic (like people with disabilities)?
Alternatively, you can make any thematic connection between the essays and write about the connection. Our bank of ideas (in the form of our discussion “Connections between Mairs and Tolentino”) could be a great start.


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