Friday, October 08, 2004

Human gentrification

Is it me, or did anyone watch Extreme Makeover last night and think that the punk girl's original look surpassed her made over look?! Her sense of self was completely eradicated.

I've been thinking a lot about the trend to recreate the body. There's much to be discussed, mainly body image, medical technology, religious ethics (Shouldn't people who believe in God feel like changing their appearance is an insult to their creator?), man's quest for immortality, etc..etc.

I think it's interesting that the show originally started out with people who have appearance issues that are hard to argue. It wasn't simple, "I wish my boobs were perkier...," these participants had scars, sun damage, poor dental health, etc. Despite your opinion about the plastic surgery biz, you ended up feeling that the doctors were doing these poor souls a favor. Of course, the participants doted on the doctors as though they were demi-gods. It was a good day for everyone involved.

Now, however, I am wondering what direction the show is gradually moving in. The participants are less "scarred" than "unconventional." Such is the case with last night's gal. She wasn't disfigured by accident or birth. She just looked like an eccentric punk.

And what's with the commercials for plastic surgeons and clinics?! Weird.

All arguments about appearance aside, what irritated me even more about the way the punk was received, was the message the show gave its audience: If you choose to look different, or unconventional, it's because you have low self esteem and secretly want to look like other conventionally pretty girls.

While I don't argue that this is never the case, it certainly isn't a statement that rings true for everyone. Some of the most confident, inspiring people I know look quite unconventional. It's not because they aren't beautiful in their own right (whatever that means), it's simply that they don't follow a conventional standard. They don't buy the brands we're supposed to buy. They don't wear their hair in any particular fashion. They just don't think about appearance with the same level of importance.

I find it really sad that we're such a wealthy nation, we can put so much time, money, and energy into creating these beauty standards that mean nothing except to the people who make money selling them.



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