4/23/2004 Add a comment

I saw 10 minutes of The Swan last night. It made me cry. No, not because of the heart-warming transformations, but because of how utterly degrading and narrow the show was. To first tell these women that they are so ugly that they cannot be fixed without expensive and painful surgical procedures--and to then transform them into Stepford wives--and then, to pit them against each other in a competition to enter a beauty pageant--is abusive not only to these women but also to the viewers. Just think of all of the 10-year-old girls who start to believe that like last night's contestant, they should not "face the world" until they are surgically perfected. (Heck, just think of all the 25-year-old women who begin to seriously consider lipo or a nose job.) Women will never be equal while shows like The Swan commodify our appearances and perpetuate norms of impossible beauty. There's nothing wrong with wanting to look better--but there are a million things wrong with telling women that they can't possibly be beautiful as themselves, that they can't "face the world" with confidence and a smile without looking like a Barbie doll. Gretchen