Makeover Culture: The Obsession with the Perfection of Imperfection

Photograph by:  sadlelady

Makeover-culture is ubiquitous to all aspects of American life.   Makeover-culture fosters the need for constant transformation and remodeling of oneself to live a supposedly “happier” life. Don’t get me wrong a makeover can be a great thing, but with the constant urge for modification as stressed by society, perfectly healthy people are caving into the pressure and modifying their bodies to the point of disfigurement and death. This of course is all done in hopes of achieving the idealized look emphasized by makeover culture, one that is young, skinny, and symmetrical. Makeover-culture provides quick fixes for complex problems, makes us more prone to biopower, and lastly it makes us likelier to never be content with ourselves. There are three medium-forms from which makeover-culture is reinforced: television programming (makeover shows), advertising, and the lives of celebrities under constant surveillance by the media.

Lets talk about the first medium through which makeover-culture is proliferated, makeover shows.  Shows like A&E’s Intervention, Extreme Makeover, the Biggest Loser, and Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School are all prime examples of makeover shows. The degree of manipulation on the part of the creators of these makeover shows enormous. Often, makeover show contestants are required to sign over their rights giving full disclosure and they are pitted against each other for grand cash prize for extra incentive to see who can commit themselves to amassing the biggest change. Of course, in reality this all a giant ploy to guarantee the creation of entertaining television, brilliant.

Ok so now that a little background was given on makeover shows, we can now talk about the values prescribed by them. Dana Heller in her article entitled Social Media: Causing Governmentality and Self Consciousness in Women?   touches upon some of these values she mentions: the reinforcement of the American duty to the social promotion and commercial marketing of physical fitness, the propagation of the “television work-family”, and lastly the celebration of the “powers of transformation”.    Quotations around “television-work family” and “powers of transformation” were included, because these relationships are transitory.  Fellow blogger Mariam Chardiwall also touched upon a subliminal value prescribed by makeover shows in her blog post entitled From Corsets to Surgery Remolding the Female Body . She says, “Shows like Extreme Makeover… or The Swan …internalizes the normalcy of going under the knife to look beautiful.”  It is almost as if these shows are romanticizing the process of surgery.  Makeover shows almost always fail to mention the risks of the surgery, the amount of time the patient spends in recovery, and the costliness of it. I would even go as far to argue that makeover shows suggests to viewers that these procedures are absolute necessary part of one’s beauty maintenance. Essentially, makeover shows water down surgery to a routine beauty ritual.

The second medium through which makeover-culture is proliferated is advertisement. Frankly speaking this aspect of makeover-culture is practically inescapable. We see advertisement for products guaranteeing the acquisition of the idealized image stressed by makeover culture everywhere.  We see it on the Internet, on the television, on the radio, in the newspaper, on Billboards, in the subway, and even in the grocery. Products like SlimFast, infomercials for exercise equipment, dieting clubs, surgery, Botox and the endless wrinkle cream and beauty products currently out there in the market are prime examples of advertisement reinforcing makeover-culture.

The third medium through which makeover-culture is the constant surveillance of celebrities by the media.  As mentioned in a previous blog post written called Social Media: Causing Governmentality and Self Consciousness in Women? since thesecelebrities are under constant surveillance by the media they feel more self-conscious and often police themselves. The extent to this body modification ranges from purging, to Botox, to the use of age creams, and lets not forget plastic surgery. Celebrities like Heidi Montag, Carrot Top, Mickey Rourke, Joan Rivers and Pete Burns are all victims of makeover culture, they have all had excessive plastic surgery to the point where they very unnatural and fake. Here is a video of Pete Burns who clearly suffers from symptoms of body dismorphic disorder, defined as intense obsession with corrective perceived or real flaws in one’s self. Just watch the video below for your self you will see that he says numerous times,  “I got to keep up with my image and got keep on changing it up”. Not to judge, but his idea of beauty is a bit disillusioned even with after experience a near death experience due to a lip surgery gone horribly wrong he still continues to continue to fight the aging process and still routinely has cosmetic surgeries done.

There is a correlation between the rise of makeover culture and the medicalization of disruptive behaviors created as a result of it.  Such disorders include but are not limited to: body dismorphic disorder, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa. There is an increase to medicalization to attribute these behaviors to something wrong in the brain.  In a way the medicalization of disruptive behaviors created by makeover-culture sort takes away from the individual and reshapes it into something the individual has no control over.

Lets summarize. Makeover culture is spread through three mediums: television programming (makeover shows), advertisement, and the constant surveillance of celebrities by the media. Makeover-culture provides quick fixes for complex problems, makes us more susceptible to biopower, and lastly it makes us likelier to never be content with ourselves. As we age we are more prone to makeover-culture, because we innately perceive ourselves as deviating more from the idealized image perpetuated by makeover culture and feel the pressure to defy the aging process.  Lastly, we are all narcissistic in our maintenance of our selves it is ingrained in our society, but there is point where maintenance crosses over into body disruptive behavior.

Thanks for reading!

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Demelio U.

Signing OFF


4 responses to “Makeover Culture: The Obsession with the Perfection of Imperfection

  1. Nicely put when you stated how the media romanticizes the process of surgery. I made a visit back to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons website and just noticed the image at the left hand corner of the page and how it definietely contributes to what you stated.

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