Can't Stand The Hate: Cutting BridalPlasty Down To Size
Kristy is an occasional guest blogger for The Demoiselles and a member of the TD community (moniker “Owl“); an opinionated 20-whatever-something who can’t seem to shut up about feminist, queer, and fat issues; a Tumbl-er who posts pretty things, funny things, random things and her personal theology (Owls & Elephants); a damn good baker and a shitty knitter.
Last night I sat down to watch the E! show BridalPlasty. You may have heard of it – it’s a reality TV show where 12 women compete to win head-to-toe plastic surgery procedures; the winner also receives (in addition to her “perfect body”) a “celebrity style,” extravagant “dream wedding.”
Sorry to use so many quotes, but they are all from the show – you’re inundated with this language from minute 1 to the end – and hopefully they give you a feeling about my views on the whole thing.
That is to say: I hate it. Not for the show itself, but for the web of harmful ridiculousness it promotes.
Before I’d even seen it, I knew I was going to hate it. I’m not a fan of plastic surgery OR the fantasy of princess dream weddings. But surprisingly, these ended up being the least of my horrors upon watching.
For the first half of the episode I found myself scoffing, laughing and loudly quoting (read: mocking) the women to my partner who was sitting in the other room. Then I realized something important:
This show is not only dangerous because, like all reality TV, it pits contestants against each other in crude ways. And it’s not only extra dangerous because it also pits each woman on the show against her own self, telling her she is imperfect (read: ugly) and promotes the need to get 10-15 medical procedures to fix that so that she can be “truly happy.
The really dangerous part of a program like this is that it pits viewers against contestants – ‘That woman is so skinny, she thinks she needs lypo?!?!?’ ‘These women are so shallow and stupid.’ Etc, etc – AND it pits viewers against their own bodies by continually reinforcing how even these seemingly perfect women still need 15 cosmetic surgeries.
Wow, that’s a lot of hate. Every woman for herself, and every woman against herself. I realized I was actively participating in this hate by making fun of these women.
But that’s not all. At the beginning of the show, I realized with delight that it has women of all shapes, sizes and colors. But, by the end, it was the woman with the darkest skin, fattest body, who wasn’t upper-middle class who was voted off first. The other women just couldn’t believe she would pawn her wedding ring – even if she did it so that she could keep her car, so that she could keep her job, so that she could, I dunno, SURVIVE. They all just thought that pawning a gorgeous ring from the man who truly loves you was a selfish, valueless, disrespectful thing to do. And they held it against her. *facepalm* The message in that: if you can’t afford a celebrity style wedding, don’t evaluate why you even want it, just join reality TV. Oh wait, the whole fact that you couldn’t afford it in the first place means you don’t deserve it. It was painful how misguided these women were, and no one made an effort to explain anything – in fact, they were rewarded for their classism and bias.
I could write multiple blog posts on how women, even feminists, seem to feel they can only find happiness through money – ‘perfect’ weddings, nice diamond rings, international vacations to ‘find their true self,’ – or, worse yet, through men. This entire show is one ridiculous TV version of a failed Bechdel Test, and it enforces the notion that even if you have a loving man in your life (which everyone obviously NEEDS), money and surgery are the only way to truly love your body and yourself; and that you should hate other women and their bodies as well.
At best, this show says, “Hey, every kind of woman can hate herself and others!” At worst, it’s actively ruining happiness by promoting fiction and disappointment. Is that the message we want to identify with as women? We need allies, not enemies! And we need to teach our children, each young girl, not only to love herself but to love others. That’s the first step to making shows like this non-existent. Don’t feed the train wreck.
Extra credit: Jezebel’s “Bridalplasty: Reality TV Becomes Self-Parody”