Jackie Mason | April 7, 2004
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Kris Weberg | April 7, 2004
Ah, television, where "average to pretty looking" becomes "not a supermodel, therefore ugly." No to mention movies, whose idea of ugly involves putting someone relatively attractive by most standards, like Janeane Garofalo, next to Uma Thurman and tasking audiences to consider Janeane the "dog."

(No offense is meant by the term "dog;" I use it solely to portray the workings of the disgusting mindset I'm critiquing.)

Melissa Erin | April 7, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | April 7, 2004
I, too, was disgusted. What a messed up culture we live in.

Jackie Mason | April 7, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | April 7, 2004
It's just sad that these women (and millions like them) feel they are THAT ugly, that only surgery will allow them to be successful in life and love, when they are perfectly awesome-looking people. If they only had confidence, they would be awesome people as well.

I watch a plastic surgery show on the Discovery Health channel pretty regularly. Sometimes it's about disfigurement, but most of the time, it's people getting face lifts and breast augmentation. Sometimes I can't watch those parts and fast-forward through them. Not because of any squeamishness on my part (I'm pretty unflappable about watching most medical procedures), but because I am so disgusted with the reasons for getting these procedures done. A recent one that pissed me off was a young woman of about my age getting butt implants because she's been teased by her friends her entire life about not having a butt. Now, this was a very normal, skinny, petite young woman, who just didn't have much booty. SO WHAT. I don't understand how people can become so uncomfortable with their looks and other people's comments that they are driven to change their appearance so drastically.

Melissa Erin | April 7, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | April 7, 2004
Or how about just AGING. I hope I can age gracefully. All the painful procedures in the world aren't going to stop the passage of time taking a toll on your body. So what.

Melissa Erin | April 7, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | April 7, 2004
Add eyebrow plucking for me, and I'm in.

However, in all fairness, I lust after the permanent laser hair removal procedure for underarms. It's just too expensive.

Scott Hardie | April 7, 2004
The beauty makeover shows and plastic surgery shows do thrive on the poor body image many women have, but I think it's about more than that. It's a very American desire to wipe everything away and start anew; to fix one's problems by becoming a new person, even if only superficially. This is going to get me in trouble, because it's going back to that third rail I touched on VoodooToaster about barber shops, but you do not become a new or better person just because you have a new or better hairstyle. I wish people would get that. You might look prettier, but you are still dumb or fat or lazy or shy or whatever plagues you. Unfortunately for Americans, true self-improvement takes time and dedication, and that doesn't fit into an eight-minute segment of Maury Povich.

Scott Hardie | April 7, 2004
Some clarification, before I get zapped again: Makeovers feel good. I'm not saying that they are worthless. Nobody should go through life without ever changing their appearance. What I'm trying to counter is the psychology of makeovers, the way some people will get them to compensate for not improving the areas of their lives that really need improvement. They're a quick fix for a quick-fix nation, a sham we willingly pull on ourselves.

Jackie Mason | April 7, 2004
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Melissa Erin | April 7, 2004
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Lori Lancaster | April 8, 2004
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Scott Hardie | April 8, 2004
Good point, Lori. If somebody wants to be a snob, they don't need a new haircut to do it. :-)

Steve Dunn | April 8, 2004
I don't know, man. I think a dramatic image makeover can change a person's personality. My wife likes to watch Extreme Makeover. They'll occasionally go back and visit someone who was on the show a while back. Invariably these people (and their loved ones) report dramatic increases in self confidence and happiness.

It could be that they're only reporting the positives (it wouldn't really do for the husband to say "Ever since my formerly ugly wife got hot, she's been a royal pain in the ass") but they do sometimes talk about how their friends no longer relate to them. Usually it's not stated as a direct consequence of the hotness, but of the confidence.... "I'm much more assertive and confident now, and some of my old friends have a hard time dealing with that." It's not hard to imagine the tension that would exist when the Jeannine Garofalo character suddenly becomes the Cameron Diaz character.

Anyway, Scott, I think you might be underestimating the role physical attractiveness plays in all aspects of life. Short men are the most systematically discriminated against demographic in the world - basically they get the short end of the stick (heh heh) in regard to dating, marriage, careers, earning potential, and prestige (both real and imagined). This is true across all cultures in all parts of the world.

I might agree with you that being suddenly transformed from a 5'4" guy to a 6'4" guy shouldn't change the man's soul... but when the guy starts finding himself being treated as an attractive person, having other guys step out of HIS way when they meet in the hallway, etc., I think it would change a person. Extreme makeovers are the same sort of thing. These women will come off that show and find out what it's like to have people look at them in a completely different way.

Scott Hardie | April 8, 2004
It sounds like you're talking about two different effects here, which correlate: That the person becomes more confident, and that they get treated better in life. As a fat, ugly, bald guy, I still manage to speak my mind most of the time and go after things that I want, so I can verify that confidence comes from within. If some people only found their inner confidence after getting a makeover, I say it's too bad it took them that long. But we shouldn't credit the makeover with something that came from within the person.

It seems to me to be the same as college and intelligence. If a person goes to college and becomes smarter, shouldn't we credit the college for unlocking their mind's potential, not for giving them a new mind? After all, they wouldn't have made it through those college courses unless they were smart enough in the first place. That same person is capable of becoming smarter without college; it would take an equivalent amount of private study time, but it could be done. We don't bother to educate ourselves because we're undisciplined and unlikely to succeed; it's easier to pay tuition and have a trained professional educate us, but that doesn't make the professional necessary.

That's probably a bad example because becoming more intelligent is a difficult, protracted process, while becoming more confident can sometimes be as simple as taking a deep breath and believing in oneself. But my point is the same, that the person is capable of improving themselves without relying on external influences to do it for them. However, as I said before, it's human nature and especially American nature to take the easy route, so that's what people will continue to do -- and most people don't improve after a makeover, anyway. Heck, a lot of people go to college and don't get any smarter, either. :-)

As for the other effect of a makeover, being treated better by other people, that's external to oneself; it does not involve becoming a different person. You can win a fortune in the lottery and people will treat you better, but it doesn't make you a different person. You can become famous on a reality show and people will treat you better, but it doesn't make you a different person. It might make you a different person -- don't think I'm making the silly suggestion that human beings never change because of external influences -- but the effect is correlative, not causal. In other words: If you want to improve your life, then by all means, get a makeover or play the lottery or go on television. But if you want to improve yourself, look elsewhere for real solutions.

As for the trouble facing short guys, ask Denise Sawicki if tall women have it any easier. ;-)

Denise Sawicki | April 8, 2004
Scott, I was thinking of making a comment anyhow :P Well I am 6'1" and I don't exactly get asked out except by guys that I get to know on the Internet and I probably prod them quite a bit to get to that point so it's almost as though I ask *them* out. I only once had anything remotely resembling a "date" with someone who originally met me in real life. This may have more to do with my shyness than my height, I don't know. Maybe some short-to-average guys here can enlighten me. :P

I never went on a date with anyone taller than me, and my favorite ex-boyfriend is around 5'7".

Also I get people coming up behind me in the store to ask, "Sir, can you get something down from this shelf?" on a semi-regular basis, and women scream when they see me coming out of the ladies' bathroom... I gotta quit wearing those big flannel shirts...

Anna Gregoline | April 8, 2004
Yes, but in order to believe in one's self, some people need a little push, a little dose of other people showing them that they are "different" somehow once they went through the makeover change. People often use the magical thinking of, "If I do this, then I'll be able to do that," and makeovers are a perfect example of it. I say, who cares? If that's the catalyst one needs, than I guess it's a good thing, but that doesn't stop me from looking down on people who have surgery because they couldn't accept themselves the way they were, or think that having a medical procedure makes them a different person.

Scott Hardie | April 8, 2004
StudioBriefing: Critics have swooped down on The Swan, Fox's latest reality series in which a group of women willingly subject themselves to a physical and psychological transformation, laying into it with vitriolic scorn not seen in print since Anna Nicole Smith made her reality-series debut. They were reacting, however, not to the show itself which aired Wednesday night and which Fox decided not to screen for them in advance, but to its concept. John Doyle in the Toronto Globe and Mail described it with such phrases as "a crackpot offshoot of Extreme Makeover," "seems to be about so much cruelty and such savage debasement of women," and "icky." Phil Rosenthal in the Chicago Sun-Times remarked, "You have to marvel at the state-of-the-art cruelty behind the network's latest carny sideshow." Mathew Gilbert in the Boston Globe wrote this "preview" of the show in Wednesday's edition: "Eighteen unattractive women undergo cosmetic surgery and life coaching to compete in a beauty contest. ... Millions of viewers undergo lobotomies to watch it." (In fact, the show performed strongly at 9:00 p.m., nailing a 9.2 rating and a 14 share, beating a repeat of NBC's Law & Order, which came in second with 7.5/12. ABC's The Bachelor made its season debut with a 6.3/10 in its first hour.)


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