Tuesday, September 27, 2005

mirror, mirror on the wall. . .

i'm so pissed off. .

I watched a snippet of a show called "Ten Years Younger" for the last few minutes of my lunch half hour. I wished that i hadn't bothered. It made my blood boil. There is a plethora of these 'ugly duckling morphing into swan' shows out there - if you've seen one, you've seen them all. Formulaic predictability is a given. Person presents to the host, host points out person's glaring physical flaws, person gets the 'once over' from the team and person emerges beautified, sassified with a possible "Narcissus" complex?!

Michelle was a woman in her mid 3os, a former model, she was upset with her current appearance, she wanted a make over. Ho hum. . seen that before! Her dark hair was pulled back from her unmade up face, she was outfitted in 'gym attire'. The host was as personably warm as a bucket of dry ice. . . brrrrr. . . right away that put me off. . Michelle lists her flaws - host sits and eyes her disparagingly. He brings up photos from her former modelling days on the nearby computer monitor. They were lovely black and white pictures. She was a decade younger, fresh-faced, though certainly air brushed. He turns to her and says "You were beautiful! What happened?" I could not believe the judgmental look in his eyes. I wanted to deck him!!! Michelle was clearly uncomfortable. She began to explain her 'deterioration' to this heartless host - she bared her psychologically problematic soul to this wretch of a man and there was not a flicker of compassion from him. I was fuming.

He then said to his charge. . . "We're going to do the soundproof box now, come with me." They walked to a soundproofed, plexiglass box, which was placed on a busy urban corner. Michelle stood in the box and 100 random people on the street were asked to analyze this woman, noting all the things that they didn't like about her appearance. She stood like a monkey in a zoo as people came up, looked her up and down, forward and backwards and offered their critiques to "Mr. Icy", who seemed to progressively brighten with each insult. Each person was asked to guess her age.

This is what the people said:
"Her hair is ugly, its in serious need of some attention."
"Her hands are vein-y, so I'd say she's in her late 40s"
"She has bags under her eyes and dark circles. .she looks like someone who doesn't have any pride."
"She's frumpy."
"She looks chunky"
"Her shoes are funny looking and they make her legs look funny."
She's dumpy."
"She could lose a few pounds."
"Those clothes do nothing for her."
"I wouldn't give her a second look."

Ages guessed varied from 40 - 47 *she was 36 years old*

After enduring that very public humiliation, this poor woman was brought back to the studio, the host announced "Now, we will let you listen to the comments." I watched her respond to this brutal onslaught of negativity, with tears and her hands covering her mouth in shock. . the camera panned to the smiling host. . . I wanted to kill him!

I'm going to write TLC (The Learning Channel). I want that show yanked.

Michelle bravely or stupidly (i'm not sure which) persevered - i guess she desperately wanted the Zoom tooth whitening, hair colouring, dermatology work, psychological counseling for her self-admitted Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, wardrobe advice, make up, whatever else they do to these women in this torture chamber experience. I couldn't watch any more. . my break was up. . my rage was raging. . . I watched her visit a porcelain-skinned Stepford wife Dermatologist, whom I suspect, like the host, must bask on a rock during lunch breaks to raise her body temp. Michelle jumped in the chair with every pop of the laser as it removed 'facial hair', which i couldn't see. . she winced through the 'acid peel' of her entire face to remove 'spots' which were barely visible to the camera and she endured more laser work to 'break the blood vessels under the eye to cause them to cease blood flow and discolouration to the undereye area.' . . . That was it for me. I never saw Michelle's final result. . I didn't want to. I was incensed. . .as a woman, as a human. I was mortified for Michelle - i was furious with the creators of this 'show. . I kept telling the TV "Just leave now." "You're beautiful, don't believe their lies." I could not believe my eyes, I couldn't believe my ears and i couldn't believe how bilious i became watching what passes for 'entertainment' these days. The envelope is pushed and pushed. . until there is no more envelope i guess?

I wondered how Michelle's psyche survived the vicious assault? I guess it was the price she was willing to pay for 'perfection'? I guess she was game for world-wide humiliation if she could once more lay claim to the title "hottie"? I guess she would endure anything to look "10 Years Younger"?!

I am still in a state of disbelief here. . with all that is so wrong with this planet and its occupants, the constant flow of human misery being disseminated via satellite, cable and print. . how can this kind of show see air time? Where did we all learn to value such things and ignore others' heartbreak and devastation? Why did i choose to sit and watch that instead of CNN? Why did i choose to watch that instead of pray for those I know to be in need? I know that we don't all ignore, but its easy to be like those cobras dancing out from the wicker baskets to the tunes provided by their charmers. What will break the spell?

well, i've harped on enough, i think. Do you feel what I'm talking about? I'm still pissed off. Now to write that email to TLC!


Tracy said...

I've seen that show before, and anxiously waited for the "after" shots. I feel guilty now. You're "so right" about how "so wrong" this is. With all of the eating disorders out there, all of the competitiveness in the workplace, the mental distress, confusion and disillusion...what we don't need is somebody else telling us that our bodies and lives, perfectly beautiful as they are, need fixing, fluffing, and re-aligning.

Write that letter Kathy, and maybe make it available for others to send in too.

And thanks for opening my eyes and mind to this.

Dale said...

Real beauty comes from being a Proverbs 31:10-31 woman. That describes my wife completely.

All I have to say to those who desire make-overs, jewelry, clothes, etc. over the things of God is read through Isaiah 3:16-24 for a bit.

Kathryn said...

absolutely. . we don't need the negativity and we don't need to be told how substandard we are. most of us feel bad enough already!

I wrote a comment to the discovery channel. . TLC itself there is no way to contact them. On the Discovery channel site there is a "Contact Us" option. You can choose the nature of your inquiry, the show to which you are referring, etc. . after that there are a few fields to fill in, which finally lead you to a comment section.

I don't remember word for word what I said. . I kept it very civil and respectful. I told them why I took issue with the show's methods, its host's personna and I requested that they discontinue the show. I told them that I wouldn't watch it again.

I know that networks don't care if a few irate people protest. .
but i had to say it to them. I hope that they do read my comments. I would encourage others to play this option more often, if you come across something, anything that you strongly feel is wrong - speak your peace. Write. Call. Be heard.

You know, I don't mind shows like that, I love "What Not To Wear", they are much more diplomatic and warm with their people. I used to watch Extreme Makeover sometimes. . often the people were very down on themselves, had been teased for a lifetime about cleft palate, bad teeth, big ears. . etc. I used to cry to see them so thrilled to have beautiful teeth for the first time in their lives. .They were fragile people and that show built them up and made them feel restored and wonderful. That is awesome.

This '10 Years' show, just tore that person down. . wrecked her - it was just so wrong. .

Kathryn said...

oh dear! I looked up Isaiah 3: 16 - ?? ouch. . . that's horrible!

Kathryn said...

I just received a very nice note from the Customer Relations Representative of Discovery.com!!

She assured me that my comments would be passed on to the show's producers and executives. I was assured that comments from viewers are taken seriously and do help to make the necessary changes to their shows. She thanked me for taking the time to write.

I do hope they either change the way they deal with people on that particular show or they cease production. Nothing wrong with makeovers - they're fabulous and make the recipients feel wonderful - but trashing someone's mental well being and sense of self for ratings, that's just not cool.

Tee said...

BRAVA!!! EXCELLENT. Very well written and I completely agree.

Thank you for removing the layers and showing us what a truly horrific thing this is.

Here is a story that broke my heart: Woman sues Extreme Makeover

Tee said...

The link I gave barely tells the story. Read this instead Click here

Kathryn said...

wow, Tee -- that second link was tragic. . you're right the first one just glossed over the story. thanx for posting that. . oh my.

Tee said...

No problem.. When I read that the other day I felt so sad for them. What a horrible thing to happen.

Kathryn said...

i also am sad when i read of such things. I often think of those who have these extreme body makeovers, you know with surgery etc. . . when they have children, those kids are going to look like their parents did, preop. . and will that cause these children distress, even to the point that they also will take nature's provision and surgically alter it to improve their self esteem?

As far as I know they haven't figured how to modify physical appearance at the cellular level!!!! That would be the next step. .

faith said...

I hate this Wester obsession with 'looks' ...it makes me sick!

I hope I will be growing older gracefully (and by that meaning...loving myself wrinkles included)

Kathryn said...

right on, Faith. . I am growing older and i have wrinkles and laugh lines and gray hair. . but those are natural occurrences. . i may add purple and blonde in for some fun. . but my silver hair is still there! my wrinkles will not get botoxed out. . i earned them - i smiled them into being and I wouldn't take back a single grin or laugh! *not to mention I can't afford such procedures* (but wouldn't do that even if i could). there is an obsession and i think if people are honest, they will admit to feeling pressure to look good and yes, it gets out of hand.