Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition

By By Jay Richards

By Jay Richards

All too often, only men are portrayed in the exciting roles on TV and movies. Women are typically portrayed as weak, overly emotional or merely sex objects.

Recently, however, I stopped on an interesting TV show starring almost exclusively female characters.

One would think that a program with a predominantly female cast would be a step in the right direction. The program in question, however, is “Extreme Makeover.”

Instead of portraying the power and dignity of women, this show and others like it degrade them to the status of chattel.

I will admit that surgical shows are interesting. However, the messages that these shows send to society are devastating.

On this show, doctors-mostly men-stick a tool inside a woman’s stomach, melt the fat and suck it out in a process called liposuction.

Next these doctors cut open the woman’s breasts and insert sacks of saline. They then break her nose with a chisel in order to piece it back together in an entirely different shape.

Then a dentist grinds down each tooth until they are little stubs, completely restructures the teeth formation and inserts porcelain veneers.

“Extreme Makeover,” “The Swan” and, my new personal favorite, “I Want a Famous Face”, send the message that people cannot be accepted into society unless they look like a model or celebrity.

The most difficult part about watching these shows is knowing that women voluntarily participate-and in some cases, pay for the surgeries themselves.

What does it say about our society when people are volunteering for life-threatening surgery in order to feel better about themselves?

Five percent of young women in the United States suffer from eating disorders. Do we really need to make this problem worse by promoting the idea that only surgically enhanced women are beautiful?

Of course it’s not only the TV show’s fault. The fault lies with all companies, organizations and people that turn women into commodities rather than portraying them as human beings.

Despite the shared blame, however, these TV shows do something that magazines and fashion designers don’t. Shows such as “Extreme Makeover” imply that an actual physical or artificial transformation is needed in order for an individual to feel happy and important.

Our society would be much better off if we could realize that there is no connection between happiness and physical appearance.

Eating healthy and exercising can increase happiness and should be encouraged.

Developing a low self-esteem because weight or appearance doesn’t match up to some imagined ideal will never lead to real happiness.

The worst aspect of shows like “Extreme Makeover” is that they spread a false notion of happiness. The show’s Web site says, “This season, expect more emotion, tears and joy as lifelong dreams and fairy tale fantasies come true.”

Happiness is not physical appearance. Women are not commodities. As long as we continue to support shows like “Extreme Makeover,” the commodification of women will persist.

Instead of turning to a surgeon to find peace, society should try to find real and meaningful happiness.

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