I am sick to the teeth of turning on the TV to find the latest diet of fas plastic surgery being sybtly promoted. Between dreadful programmes like Extreme Makeover, The Swan and the truly dreadful Nip Tuck, I am tired of having peoples apparent "dream come true" stories shoved down my gullet.
The entire cosmetic surgery industry, like its little brother, the multibillion dieting industry has taken affluence related neuroses and turned them into a huge industry. Unlike the dieting industry, however, the disease being treated is not a disease at all. Once of the scarily subtle features of some of the programmes shown is that the subjects are either hideously ugly or actually simply quite plain. It would appear to me that subjects are being carefully hand picked for their likelihood of good results, and not just the challenge.
The Swan is particularly henious as it insinuates that the women were all previous hideously ugly. The formula is simple. Take a plain Jane, put her on a 1200 calorie a day diet with 2 hours of working out with a personal trainer, and give her plastic surgery and dental surgery to fix whatever the problems are, and finally some counselling to build up confidence and motivate the women. They are common enough issues - bad and broken teeth, blemished skin, sagging breasts and bellies, shapeless noses and a few pounds too many.
What was particularly fascinating to me was the huge number of participants who had really over-dramatised their predicament. Some could barely stop crying, even after they had been "revealed" as gorgeous (with of couse a decent hair do, professionally done makeup and beautiful clothing). One or two seemed to be emotionally extremely fragile, utterly unable to cope with the emotional stress at all. This borderlined on exploitation.
I noticed a few things about the programme that I particularly disliked. One was the way in which a woman, who had decided to not go ahead with some of her plastic surgery was portrayed as simply being "wrong." It didn't seem to emphasise that the woman had asserted herself in deciding against surgical modification, and the show's "Life Coach" didn't paint it as a positive thing. I found that insidious - it suggested that to reject surgical enhancement was cowardly instead of a positive decision (apparently the lady wanted to retain a bump on her nose as her daughters had an identical bump). This is something quite beyond wanting to fix a genuine health problem or emotional issue: this is emotional blackmail.
There is a lot of stuff about this programme unspoken. For example, the most overweight any of the women are is about 30 pounds. For any of you who know a little about appropriate sizes or BMI, somebody who is 5'4" or more and only 30 pounds overweight is not obese. Any somebody who is 5'9" and 30 pounds overweight is even less overweight than the lady who is just 5'4". So losing 20 pounds or so isn't a real challenge. Now if any of the women were genuinely obese - needing weight loss of 50 pounds or more - 3 months would be a real challenge, if not an impossibility for most. So they made sure that most of the voluteers were not too difficult to change.
Lastly I found the idea that personal satisfaction can be linked to appearance and bit suspect. I do think that programmes like this are heavily promoting the cosmetic surgery industry and there should be health warnings attached.