Posts Tagged ‘Reality TV Show’

Heidi Montag & Plastic Surgery: Low Self-Esteem Cuts like a Knife

People love to hate Heidi Montag (or Heidi Pratt since she is married to the most hated reality TV villain, Spencer Pratt). She’s been the butt of many cruel jokes revolving the staged ‘candid’ shots of the couple hamming it up for the paparazzi and her failed attempt at a music career. When she went under the knife, it only added fuel to the fire.

The Hills star has transformed before our very eyes. In season one, she looked sweet, bubbly, happy, and natural. Then a few seasons later, she opted for a nose job and breast implants. Then in November, she went through 10 plastic-surgery procedures in a single day and came out looking like this. (Watch the Access Hollywood interview to hear Heidi Montag speak out about her experience.)

I actually thought Heidi looked gorgeous before her surgery – she had this sparkle in her eyes that I can’t quite describe. When she smiled, her whole face smiled.

I’m also not against plastic surgery. I’ve fantasized about having breast implants someday, but threw that dream out the window because I always come back to the same conclusion: I don’t want to rely on surgery to make me happy. I want to become stronger from within and learn to accept myself as is. That is what a real feminist does – deal with hard problems instead of resorting to quick fixes. And I never want to define my happiness solely on the size of my boobs. That would just make me depressed.

Heidi Montag’s plastic surgery got me thinking about how closely a woman’s self esteem is tied to her looks. There’s a suffocating amount of pressure on us to look a certain way – fake.

Even though we know that the photos of those models have been airbrushed and even if we know that there’s nothing real about that woman, we still think, “Wow, she’s beautiful” and then pulled out the mental yardstick as we compare our physical ‘failings’ with her positive attributes. It is this process by which we gradually loathe ourselves and make it our goal to look like someone entirely different.

You could say that we learn to disrespect ourselves.

But it was something Heidi Montag said in the January 25, 2010 issue of People magazine that pissed me off and made me pity her. When asked if it worries her that people will fixate on her large breasts, she replied:

“I hope so. They better! That’s kind of the point. Sex appeal is really important and it’s not saying that you’re only sexy if you have big boobs. That’s not true at all, and honestly the way I got Spencer, I had no surgery. It was my inner beauty that he loved.”

So she wants people now to notice her because of her boobs. Lovely. So many women have fought so that we could come as far as we did since getting the right to vote. But now ignorant statements like this throw the stick in the bicycle’s spokes.

And she claims that Spencer Pratt loved her inner beauty, and that’s what he fell in love with. Well, what about Heidi? Does she also not love herself for her inner beauty? Apparently not since she was quoted as telling someone during an interview that she’d rather die than to be flat-chested. Nice.

Things like this bother me because it’s proof that women still have such problems linking their self worth with how others perceive them. Instead of being happy, you’re happy because someone else is happy.

I May Wear a Size Double Zero, But I’m Not the Invisible Woman

GlockomaGlockoma“Real women have curves.” Do elbows and knees count? Jokes aside, that’s a loaded, unchallenged statement, and it needs to be analyzed to expose its anti-feminist messages. At first glance, it seems harmless, but I’m going to tell you why I think it needs to be revised, and why this statement is a big “Glock You!” to women everywhere.

My opinion may not be commonly held, but sometimes it’s important to stand up for something you feel strongly about regardless if you have support or not.

The problem I have with the widely-accepted statement is that it makes a myriad of sweeping assumptions and commits the same crime it condemns. (Don’t worry. I’m going to unpack these thoughts and wrap them in red bows.)

We live in a weight-conscious world with sensationalist (not sensational) shows like The Biggest Loser and More to Love. Many women are unfortunately disappointed with the way they look and feel that they need to go on diets.

Sadly, these yo-yo, rollercoaster diets are nothing more than money-making schemes that prey upon the vulnerable and leave them feeling worse off.

Glockoma“Real women have curves” is supposed to empower women to love their bodies in all their overweight glory even if they don’t resemble the rail-thin supermodels on the catwalk.

Most women in North America aren’t a size 2 like your typical model. I did some online research (and while there is some debate over the exact number), the most-commonly reported average is size 12.

While I’m all for bolstering the fragile ego, we are forgetting something here: some women are naturally thin, some are a size zero, some are scrawny, some are flat-chested, some have boyish hips, and yes, some are also suffering from eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

GlockomaBut are they not all (real) women, too?

To shut out this important demographic is a slap in the face that rests on the assumption that women are to be defined merely by the shape of their bodies. And in this case, a ‘real woman’ must have boobage, hips, and a bootylicious behind.

People are often quick to make the following assumptions, too. Thin women:

  • are generally healthier compared to those who are overweight
  • hit the gym regularly
  • count calories, watch what they eat, or have ‘issues with food’

GlockomaTime to glock an assumption right now. Thin people aren’t necessarily healthier than bigger individuals. It’s more about proportion and lipid distribution. I’ve read about super-skinny people having loads of fat around their vital organs. And there are definitely a lot of larger people who don’t stuff their face and who do have very active lifestyles. You can’t necessarily extrapolate an individual’s health by the number on the bathroom scale alone unless you only consider extreme cases like the 50-lb. woman or the 1-ton man.

Having been slender my entire life, I have first-hand experience of people asking me how I stay slim. It’s pretty amusing when they find out that I don’t actually exercise as much as they think, and that I eat whatever I want whenever I want. To their dismay, they realize that my body type is due to my high metabolism and genetics.

And when people find out that I’m a vegetarian, fuck, they just have a field day with that! “Eat a hamburger to fatten yourself up”, “Plants have feelings, too”, or “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you like the taste of meat?” Then they attribute my thinness to vegetarianism and have a Eureka Moment that makes them feel smart for a few nanoseconds.

Not so fast, slugger.

I’ve been a vegetarian now for over two years, but I’ve been thin my whole life. Don’t believe me? I have my school pictures to prove it. (And just to get this out in the open, I loved eating meat…until I watched this documentary called Earthlings. Also, it’s funny, but I eat more now as a vegetarian than I ever did when I enjoyed meat. One more ball I’d like to hit out of the park is that vegetarians don’t actually just eat vegetables – we’d starve. But I suppose that’s another rant about misconceptions for another entry.)

GlockomaOnce a co-worker saw me going for my second slice of cake at the company potluck and said something like, “Where does all the food go to with those hollow legs?”

He wasn’t meaning to be rude, and it was actually his way of showing that he was impressed with how I could pack so much food into this tiny body without growing sideways, but still…it stung pretty badly. Nobody likes being called a toothpick just like he wouldn’t appreciate it if I likened him to Shamu or commented on his thunder thighs.

GlockomaWhy the double standard?

But I really hate it when people comment on my weight because it makes me feel very uncomfortable. I’m very self-conscious by nature. When I was a child, relatives (who I was never close with) would seem to make it a point to tell me at every single family gathering in front of everyone that I was skinny. They didn’t say it like it was a good thing – more like telling me that I was a bag of bones and Skeletor had company.

Commenting on someone’s weight is plain rude – unless you’re a doctor…well, then you’re allowed to do a lot of atypical things (like shoving a gloved finger up someone’s anus!). I’ve actually made it a point to never bring up someone’s weight unless a) they specifically ask me about it or b) it becomes a severe medical concern.

I sometimes wondered if my relatives ever thought about what they were saying and what kind of effect it would have on me later on in life. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so self-conscious about my weight if they learned to zip it on occasion.

Calling a thin person skinny can be equivalent to calling an overweight person fat. Nobody likes to be singled out for their weight – I certainly didn’t.

Alas, I digress. Going back to the “real women have curves” mantra: while it looks so nice and glossy on the surface by telling curvy gals to love what they look like, at the same time it’s ostracizing skinny and underweight women who may struggle with similar social and media pressures. Yet if we flip the coin and change the mantra to “real women are a size zero”, imagine the outcries that would follow – we’d be stoned to death by their scowls alone!

GlockomaWriting a book on this topic would be all too easy – think volume 1 through 20! So I’m going to conclude here. We need to modify “real women have curves” to “real women have brains” because after everything we’ve done to fight for our rights, I believe that we should be judged (and commended!) on our intellect, wit, and skills rather than how easily we can zip up a tight Versace dress.

Canada’s Next Top Model: Silence Is Golden, But Speaking Up Is Platinum

GlockomaCanada’s Next Top Model taught me that fashion usually is the one who flew over the cuckoo’s nest. It’s art, so interpretations run more rampant than sex scandals in Tinsel Town. And when it comes to the outlandish visions, trying to rationalize the irrational is like asking a mule to procreate.

But sometimes fashion isn’t just all fun and games – someone gets hurt. Most often, it’s the models who are taught that faking it ’til you make it is the mark of a true professional. (Here’s a novel concept: how about being genuine in a plastic world?)

Oh yeah, the life of a model is so glamourous. Their bodies are scrutinized by agencies under perfection’s microscope, they have to shove their feet into shoes that are much too small, and all the while they must smile and pretend like they’re having the time of their lives. Beauty is pain? Beauty is ugly.

With all that being said, I still really enjoy keeping up-to-date on shenanigans in the fashion world. What can I say? I’m drawn to eccentricity and the abstract because I’m wary of anything that’s simple or clear-cut.

Canada’s Next Top Model is one of the CTV shows I tune into weekly because a) it supports homegrown ‘talent’, b) I dig Jay Manuel (he always looks airbrushed), and c) I enjoy watching the creative candor at photoshoots.

Hear No Evil. See No Evil. Speak No Evil.

GlockomaGlockomaWell, Tuesday’s show hit a feminist nerve. As usual, each model got her hair styled and her make-up done, but what was different this time around was the finishing touch – a piece of duct tape over her mouth!

Really? After all these years, the fashion industry is still spreading the pathetic and hopeless message that women should be seen and not heard? Well, glock that! I am woman. Hear me roar!

Mouth to Mouth Resuscitation

GlockomaAnd while I think Jeanne Beker is usually smart-as-a-whip, right on the money, and should be related to The Joker with a mouth like hers, she fell off the mark and into a pail of pig’s blood when she verbally defended the keep-quiet concept at the judging panel.

Deep down inside, I’m sure she knows that taping someone’s mouth shut is never empowering or about the challenge of “smiling with your eyes” – it’s about telling females everywhere that what they say accounts for very little, so they should just pretend like everything’s okay, look pretty, and pose for the camera. Way to cheapen women’s thoughts like souvenir shops in tourist attractions.

Jon & Kate Plus 8 Becoming Jon Minus Kate Plus 8

GlockomaRocky road bars are delicious and easy to prepare. Rocky road marriages are bitter and hard to survive.

Who would know better than Katie and Jonathan Gosselin? Their relationship was broadcast for all the world’s critical eyes to see on what is now one of TLC’s hottest reality shows – Jon & Kate Plus 8. As if having eight children wasn’t enough stress!

You’d have to be living under a metamorphic rock to have not heard about the couple’s recent turbulent relationship. ET Canada, Access Hollywood, Us Weekly, and other gossip sources all planted the seed of suspicion in the air. Was Kate having an affair with her bodyguard? Who was that female Jon was seen leaving with after partying? The stories were unraveling like some cheap pants from a fly-by-night business.

I admit that prior to the reports of a crumbling marriage, I had never really watched more than a snippet of the show. But then like millions of other viewers, I fell prey to the hype beast and tuned in on May 25 to see the season premiere of Jon & Kate Plus 8.

Kate and Jon spoke openly about the rift in their relationship, and when asked what the future held, they both couldn’t say for certain except that they’d be there for their kids no matter what. A family torn apart. Now people were treating it like a Battle of the Sexes, and they began to pick sides.

The feminist in me noticed how quick the public immediately pointed the finger at Kate. They criticized her for being a diva because she was bossy and controlling. And some people said that she was a spotlight hog because it looked like she wanted the attention more than Jon. (If you watch any episode, you’ll notice how much more vocal she is compared to her husband, and therefore the camera is focused on her more often than Jon.)

A lot of people were quick to pounce on Kate with their claws extended. To me, she symbolizes the modern woman who’s able to fulfill the role of nurturing mother yet who still is independent and travels for her job.

Obviously what we see on Jon & Kate Plus 8 only accounts for edited moments when the cameras were rolling, so we can’t assume that we’re getting the total truth. Still, I have to say that from what I have seen, I think it’s refreshing to see a woman who’s undeniably in charge. Instead of the played-out traditional threat “Just wait until your father gets home!”, I imagine that at the Gosselin residence, it’s more like “Just wait until your mother gets home!”. That’s right – it’s the woman who lays down the law.

Sometimes she may come across as a cold and strict disciplinarian, but I believe that sometimes you have to have an iron fist. It’s not always about going to the spa and picking which colour to have your nails done. And hello, having eight kids? You have to exert tough love sometimes because if you’re a softie, they won’t just walk all over you, eight children will feel more like a stampede!

GlockomaKate has also come under another attack, which I’m going to defend. Some have said that she’s just hungry to be a TV star and doesn’t care about exploiting her kids for the sake of fame. Maybe she is the Very Hungry Caterpillar. But…maybe she was just really resourceful. Let me explain.

Imagine that you have eight children…going through hundreds of diapers, feeding those little mouths, and hearing all of them screaming and crying! Not only is it tons of work, but it costs elephant tons of money, too! I think that Kate was really resourceful when she pitched the idea for a TV show following the trials and tribulations of parents with multiples (as they call it).

I’m sure she knew what she was doing. If the crew has to film her at home, most likely they’d give her a “studio home” or spruce up her existing pad. And no doubt when a show’s successful, they’ll pay for a lot of things (e.g. transportation, food, trips, etc.). It was a very creative and clever way for Kate and Jon to be able to afford having so many kids. If not for TLC giving them so much, well, TLC, Kate and Jon’s bills would’ve taken a sledgehammer to more than just the Porcelain Piggy (i.e. the piggy bank).

Another point of interest is that Kate isn’t your typical woman portrayed on the Dick Tube (by the way, that’s what I say instead of Boob Tube). Okay, yes, she’s shown in the traditional role of a mother with a protective wing, but what’s different is that she’s not nearly as emotional as many women on TV who always seem to be crying or who are afraid about something. Kate usually has everything in check and can control her emotions.

And then there’s Jon. I’m intrigued by his quiet demeanor. Most men on TV are depicted as being loud, arrogant, obnoxious, and/or violent. But he doesn’t fall into any of those unfortunate categories. I like how he’s always calm and doesn’t look like the type who would blow up or instigate a yelling match.

Plus, I love the interesting twist of how Jon was the one who quit his day job to stay home with the kids so Kate could travel and still work to promote her book. Usually you hear more about stay-at-home moms than stay-at-home dads. It’s refreshing to see someone bringing attention to an important group that’s usually invisible in popular media (and on a hit TV show no less!).

The next time you watch Jon & Kate Plus 8, look for the things I’ve mentioned regarding their personalities. Even if the show was meant to only be candy floss for your curious mind, it surprisingly is a great longitudinal case study illustrating a strong woman and a softer man.

GlockomaWhat do you think?

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