The word “flaw” is some 700 years old. It was born from fire and ice, first used to mean “ember” and “snowflake” — some fragment of a whole gone astray. It evolved to signify “defect,” initially in surfaces and soon after in character. But recently, it has become associated most closely with appearance, thanks to the popularity of its opposite, “flawless.” On social media, “flawless” has a celebratory sheen: Women apply it tenderly, reverently to one another — and triumphantly to themselves.
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