While the primary function of BBC1 appears to spreading neoliberal hegemony, – so BBC3 seems to be increasingly devoted to perpetuating the beauty myth – at least if Wednesday’s current schedule is anything to go by – I mean look at this appalling array of programmes in which mainly women, but also occassionally men, demonstrate to us that being more beautiful is the true path to happiness.
19.00 – Hotter than my daughter - involves mothers who dress like tarts and daughters who ‘dress dowdy’ having their dress sense judged by a panel – typically resulting in the mother ‘toning it down’ and the daughter ‘glamming it up’ – in tonight’s episode, the mother was so overwhelmed with the transformation that she broke down in tears – as she said, her previously tom boy daughter who now had her hair trussed up, bright red lipstick, and checked dress – showing a few more curves – now ‘looked beautiful’ – This would have moved be to tears had I not been vomiting.
19.30 – Snog, Marry or Avoid - this programme takes typically ugly or average looking (and normally vacuous) teens or twenty somethings who wear too much fake tan, too many lashes, and generally too little clothes, and subjects them to judgement by ‘lads on the street’ who typically report that they would avoid or snog these girls – but never marry them (samples never disclosed of course) – the subjects are then given a ‘make under’ – they tone down the make up and are dressed more conservatively, to bring out their ‘natural beauty’ and then told by their now admiring public that they would be married or snogged.
Even though we are moving away from ‘fakery’, the agenda is still very much focssed on the need for girls to look ‘beautiful’ – and all of this is made much worse by the fact that the show’s host Jenny Frost simply ooses natural beauty and viavaciousness out of every pore – so hardly a good base line against which to compare yourselves girls – the end result of the show is that the girls ‘compromise’ – so rather than being makeup disaster zones, they know tone down their fake tan and lashes to actually look ‘beautiful’
21.00 – Hot Like Us – To be honest I’ve never watched it but I know it’s got something to do with young, attractive couples (probably shallow) who think looks matter above most other things – obviously a good basis for a long term stable relationship as we’ve all got more than enough time and money to plow into keeping ourselves looking unaturally young well into our 60s, and who wouldn’t want to end up with a Joan Collins lookalike when their 80? (I am being sarcastic btw – I’d rather be dead than end up with something looking like Joan Collins).
At the end of the day these three programmes – while presented to us as entertainment are really just reinforcing and even normalising the idea that ‘looks matter’ and that people, women especially, should spend inordinate amounts of time reflecting on and modifying their appearance. It is depressing just how many women buy into this game – reflecting the extent to which socialisation still reinforces the idea that a woman’s self-worth hinges on her appearance. It would be far better if these insidious programmes disappeared from our screens and they were replaced with a plain and simple message – women, you are more than your looks, get over them. – or something like that anyway.