A television classic to reenact in front of the whole camp. Use this “Twilight Zone” episode to address our society’s beauty standards and highlight the importance of inner beauty.
Suspended in time and space for a moment, your introduction to Miss Janet Tyler, who lives in a very private world of darkness. A universe whose dimensions are the size, thickness, length of the swath of bandages that cover her face. In a moment we will go back into this room, and also in a moment we will look under those bandages. Keeping in mind of course that we are not to be surprised by what we see, for this isn’t just a hospital, and this patient 307 is not just a woman. This happens to be the Twilight Zone, and Miss Janet Tyler, with you, is about to enter it.
Janet Tyler has undergone her eleventh treatment (the maximum number legally allowed) in an attempt to look normal. Tyler is first shown with her head completely bandaged so that her face cannot be seen. Her face is described as a “pitiful twisted lump of flesh” by the nurses and doctor, whose own faces are always in shadows or off-camera. The outcome of the procedure cannot be known until the bandages are removed. Unable to bear the bandages any longer, Tyler pleads with the doctor and eventually convinces him to remove them early. As he prepares, the doctor develops great empathy for Tyler. The nurse verbally expresses concern for the doctor and that she still is uneasy of Tyler’s appearance. The doctor becomes displeased and questions why Tyler or anyone must be judged on their outer beauty. The nurse warns him not to speak so as it is considered treason.
The doctor removes the bandages. The procedure has failed, and her face has undergone no change. The camera pulls back to reveal that she is actually attractive (by the contemporary viewer’s standards) and the doctor, nurses and other people in the hospital have large, thick brows, sunken eyes, swollen and twisted lips, and wrinkled noses with extremely large nostrils. Distraught by the failure of the procedure, Tyler runs through the hospital as what is considered normal in this alternate society “state” are revealed. Flat-screen televisions throughout the hospital project an image of the State’s leader giving a speech calling for greater conformity.
Eventually, a handsome man (again by the contemporary viewer’s standards) by the name of Walter Smith is also afflicted with the same “condition” and arrives to take the crying, despondent Tyler into exile to a village of her “own kind”, where her “ugliness” will not trouble the State. Before the two leave, Smith comforts Tyler, saying that she will find love and belonging in the ghetto and that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”; both then leave as the “normal-looking” hospital staff look on in sorrow.
Now the questions that come to mind: “Where is this place and when is it?” “What kind of world where ugliness is the norm and beauty the deviation from that norm?” You want an answer? The answer is it doesn’t make any difference, because the old saying happens to be true. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in this year or a hundred years hence. On this planet or wherever there is human life – perhaps out amongst the stars – beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Lesson to be learned in the Twilight Zone.