Thank goodness she got her looks back

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald is an article from the Telegraph in London, by Bruno Waterfield: Girl’s face grows back after three years:

A SWEDISH teenager has grown her face back after an allergic reaction to a single paracetamol pill caused the skin to turn black and peel off.

Eva Uhlin, 19, has recovered her looks after suffering an allergic reaction to the common painkiller, bought over the counter.

What purpose does the second sentence serve, other than to say she “got her looks back”? Her name and age could have been given in any number of the following sentences.

I’m probably a sucker, but I give journos the benefit of the doubt when it comes to language, because so much of journalese is tired and tied to cliches: The Greens have slammed the Government; Victim has spoken out about her ordeal; Tiger’s mistress has broken her silence; Thailand’s restive south…

It’s unlikely that Bruno Waterfield was saying “Phew, she’s pretty again” or that without her looks a young woman is worthless, but that’s what his words mean.

4 responses to “Thank goodness she got her looks back

  1. not sure I agree with you on this one kimbo.

  2. I don’t think it is an extreme sentence and I think her age is of interest (although yes I suppose it is covered by ‘teenager’, so that is a slight tautology more than anything I guess)

    Losing your looks, I find akin to losing your self-identity (and I don’t mean whether pretty or not) in many ways. Your face is your ultimate self-identification and uniqueness. This is traumatic at any age but for a young person it is more so. They have the rest of their life ahead and it is also the time you start forming relationships, including sexual relations where looks are relevant. Teenagers are awkward enough around their looks, image and self identity. I think this issue is as relevant to either gender and would hope it would be reported equally. I don’t see anything too objectionable in what he is saying although admittedly, its ‘clunky’ writing. To me it is not objectionable, but if there is one thing I have learned from your excellent site is that there is never one simple consensus on opinion, even when commentators are broadly from the same church (so to speak).

    I should imagine, to the girl at least, regaining her looks (and here I do include prettiness) would be the greatest thing of all. I personally (cos I’m a bit vain you know!!!) would be desperately upset if it happened to me and mortified at feeling ugly (word used under advisement!!!).

    Does that make sense?

    • Yes, that does make sense, and thanks for the wonderful compliment. My objection to the sentence is that it’s redundant, since he’s already said she had an extreme allergic reaction to the drug. Her name and age are important, but they should be in a sentence that gives more information, rather than just repeating the first line. Journalistic writing is about being clean and tight (something I don’t have to follow here, of course!). And while her looks are an important part of her self-identity, it’s the way they are mentioned in the article, in a way that differentiates her looks from her face, that makes me uneasy.

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