Anyone who has ever suffered taunts in the playground about having a big nose or sticky-out ears will understand how much confidence plastic surgery to remedy the problem can bring. But some of the predictions featured in this issue scare me. Fake fat that means you can eat as much as you want will do nothing to change people's eating habits. What man alive, given the risk of free choice, will not want to have his penis made bigger and bigger? Until things get so out of hand that you will be able to attach a duster to the end of your boyfriend's penis before you go to sleep, and wake up the next morning to find it dusting the ceiling. And I cannot for one moment imagine going to see my doctor and saying, "Oh, terrible sore throat doctor ... by the way, not been coming as much as I'd like lately, could you de-hood my clitoris and perhaps give my labia a quick trim?" Not that it would matter anyway, since the boyfriend's penis would now be so big that the only horseplay possible would be using it as a slide.
Fashion has come on a lot lately by encouraging individuality and allowing less-than-perfect men and women to model. But in the future it wouldn't just be "ladies and gentlemen, this is the new skirt length for autumn", it would be, "Pointy heads are the new shape for spring and this is where you can get it done"; "Still got last year's stumpy legs? No, no, no! The gazelle look is in''; "You don't want eyes there! You want them at the side of your head".
There's a picture in the November issue of Marie Claire of a blonde girl with a good strong jaw. When I first saw it I thought, "what an attractive woman, she looks different and interesting". On the next page her features have been changed using computer technology. And she still looks pretty, but bland and like lots of other pretty girls you see. Not interesting, not different. It's as if the personality has been taken out of her face.
My face is far from perfect but when I look at it I see bits of my mother and bits of my father, and that's nice. In the fantastical future, will saying, "Oh, he has a look of his father" be just a memory? It has been predicted that one day you will be able to see if your baby has a big nose before it's born and that the "problem" can be rectified while it's still in the womb. Yuk. Can't you just imagine it? "Darling, the baby's got your grandfather's hooter. We simply must get it operated on." A cosmetic chemist tells us that it will be possible to stop the ageing gene from working so that we can stop the clock at 20 or 30 or 50. Oh please. Who would choose 50 when they could stay 20? What would happen to the distinguished older look as competition to look younger got fiercer? If we'd had this choice years ago there might have been no Honor Blackman, no Sophia Loren or Goldie Hawn getting older gracefully to make the path for less attractive women not so scary. And remember that not every woman will be able to afford this "cure". Will the one that can't pay up be cast aside by employers and lovers in favour of her forever-20 "peers"?
And what next - an entire head transplant for the just-too-ugly? Think of the risks: there you are, unconscious on the operating table, when your boyfriend intervenes ("Well, doc, got anything like Pamela Anderson?") or your blood pressure suddenly plummets ("Nurse, go to the head cupboard. What? Oh, just get any old head and make it snappy, we're losing her"). And, good grief, what about if they took pig heart transplants to the next stage? "We're sorry Ms Cuthbert, there were no human heads left so we gave you a Babe instead."
As I get older, the lessons I've learnt are on my face and body. I like looking at a world full of different-looking people. Some tall, some small, some fat, some not. My grandfather was authoritative because he was tall and thin and his face told a story that a smooth, permanently young one never could. I want to go and collect my children from school and look like their mum, not one of their classmates. I'm short and there are times I wish I weren't, but I have had to accept this in the same way that we all have to accept that there should always be differences. If I could change the way I look so easily, if we all could, wouldn't we become less accepting of so many other things? The choice must be there, of course, but I don't want to wake up one day in a world of Stepford people. My tummy may not be flat, my legs not like a gazelle's and my Italian curves may sometimes annoy me. But my head is still my own and I pray that it will be a good year for noses. Whatever shape they are.