Monday, November 2, 2009

Make-up and Make-overs Make Girls

...except not really.

There are so many reality shows now in which women receive makeovers, supposedly upgrading their body, style, hair, and clothes. While these shows are designed to "empower" women, I feel like their goals weakly build confidence in a women because it uses the mentality that they need to/should be this way in order to find her inner beauty (Ziesler 128). Zeisler's article goes in depth to describe the show The Swan, an example of a tv show that perpetuates the ubiquitous desire to discover the fountain of youth or achieve optimal beauty.

(click to enlarge)

While makeover shows (which is even a segment in NBC's Today Show) seem like they're all the same, the creators try to reinvent the concept, like TLC's 10 Years Younger or use it as a shock factor when they transform a country girl like Carrie Underwood into becoming American Idol's top-selling recording artist. It's ever-present, but primarily for females. There are no make-over shows with extreme plastic surgery for guys. They just get the bow-flex ads (though not exclusively) and Axe commercials. All kinds of media are constantly trying to tell females and males that they are not fine the way they are, but rather they need to change and be sexier.

Here's a clip from NBC's Community (aired on Oct 22) titled Football, Feminism, and You, where Britta (the non-girly girl) invites Shirley to the restroom because that's what girls do, then bashes Shirley's attempt to a girly conversation, especially about her and her mother going to get makeovers. Britta is obviously created to be the anti-everything because the way girls are supposed to be are represented through Shirley and Annie (not shown in this 1 min clip).

Like we discussed in class earlier with the 3DDREAMGIRL ad and how it differs from a Victoria Secrets ad, females are supposed to look a certain way for the males, rather than completely and solely for herself. Ziesler mentions the "male gaze" as something that even females have/do (7); the "surveyor of the women in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself object of vision: a sight" (7). This is what Barthes is talking about in Mythologies.

This is what's on the Victoria's Secret homepage right now. It's supposed to convince females that she wants to and can look like that if she buy their bra and underwear because it wouldn't turn on a straight girl or make her attracted to the model. No, it's trying to inspire the girl..


  1. OMG!
    that first picture that you posted... CRAZY !!!!
    It literally is like magic...

  2. My first published academic paper was on the Swan, so I have a soft spot for it. Not the show, which is total trash, but for criticisms of it. I have the whole thing on DVD so maybe I'll bring it in tomorrow.

    That clip from Community is great. It's interesting that they have a character going on a feminist rant, but who's portrayed as shrill and annoying.