December 1, 2010


The other night while channel surfing I saw what might be the most disturbing thing ever put on television and a sure sign that we are in trouble as a society. And I'm not trying to be witty or snarky, sensationalistic or sarcastic. I was truly disturbed by what I saw.

It's called Bridalplasty. It goes a little something like this. Twelve women live together in a mansion while competing not only for their dream wedding but for extensive rounds of plastic surgery to go along with it. To turn them into - their words - perfect brides. Each week, one bride gets voted out while the rest get to keep their dream of going under the knife alive.

Why do I find this so pathetic? Because it's basically a bunch of women screaming let me compete for the privilege of getting myself sliced open so I can be more physically appealing while completely glorifying and exacerbating - not condemning - the crisis of faith women and girls have everywhere, everyday. Oh and let's not forget about the husbands-to-be. If acceptance of those brides is contingent on the size of their tits, the marriage is doomed to failure before the vows are even said.

The producers are as bad - if not worse - than the contestants. They've found twelve vulnerable women (out of what I'm sure was a much larger pool of vulnerable applicants) with body-image and self-worth issues and strung them along by preying on their own fears of inadequacy while allowing them to think that skinnier thighs or new boobs are going to solve all of their problems.

There was a sequence that horrified me. Each of the women was told to complete a life-size puzzle showing a photoshopped image of the bride in her dress the way she might look if she underwent the various surgeries on their "wish list." On a table behind them were ten syringes. The faster they finished, the faster they could join the injection party going on downstairs. The final two would be at risk for going home. And, apparently, wrinkles. These ten lucky women ran around with their syringes and eventually got shot up or whatever and then crashed in their mansion with their wrinkle-free faces.

I have a daughter who, no matter how independent she is, will feel that kind of pressure. I know I can't totally shield her from it but I wish that, maybe just a little, society would stop fighting me so hard.

Are you - and your perception of yourself - at all impacted by the pressures of society? How?

Posted by Chris at December 1, 2010 7:00 AM

I am so completely disturbed by this.

I have had one bit of plastic added. For NO ONE ELSE but me. It was a very adult choice made in my late 20's.

I have raised my daughter to know that being perfect IS being her. No make-up or surgery required!

Every bride should be the perfect bride for her groom. As well as the groom being perfect for the bride. I had thought that was the reason we marry!! Because I know that when I look at that man in the morning, he is MY PERFECT!

And when he looks back at me with my hair standing on end, sleep in my eyes and a growl ready in my throat for the first person that speaks to pre-caffinated Holly and he says "Good morning, my beautiful princess..." that I am someone else's perfect, too.

THAT is truth. :)

Posted by: Holly Reynolds at December 1, 2010 7:43 AM

I am so completely disturbed by this.

I have had one bit of plastic added. For NO ONE ELSE but me. It was a very adult choice made in my late 20's.

I have raised my daughter to know that being perfect IS being her. No make-up or surgery required!

Every bride should be the perfect bride for her groom. As well as the groom being perfect for the bride. I had thought that was the reason we marry!! Because I know that when I look at that man in the morning, he is MY PERFECT!

And when he looks back at me with my hair standing on end, sleep in my eyes and a growl ready in my throat for the first person that speaks to pre-caffinated Holly and he says "Good morning, my beautiful princess..." that I am someone else's perfect, too.

THAT is truth. :)

Posted by: Holly Reynolds at December 1, 2010 7:44 AM

I saw that commercial on the tv at the gym. I didn't hear the sound portion but honestly didn't need to. I was just as disturbed as you were. At this point in my life (see: middle-aged)my goal is health and fitness rather than some ideal. But it is so easy to get sucked into the messages out there. It's dangerous for everyone. This kind of show sends an awful message to girls and boys. It seems like women are expected to alter themselves to please others and men are allowed to expect that. I agree with you that these marriages are doomed from the start. People who expect (a) perfection and (b) a single occurance to solve all their problems are destined to be disappointed.

Posted by: Annie at December 1, 2010 8:08 AM

I think to some extent, we all want to make sure we look ok and in the backs of our minds, we accomplish that based on what society deems "normal", etc. But this show is indeed all that is wrong about self-esteem and womens' perception of what men want. In fact, I think it even has less to do with what the potential groom would even want and more what the women think is perfect. Very sad.

Posted by: Claire at December 1, 2010 8:24 AM

That is just horrifying.

At nearly 40, I don't have the issues with my physical self that I used to, although they aren't entirely gone by any means. I'm terrified for my daughter who has been seriously underweight her whole life (she has major food issues due to reflux). I fear that this medical issue will turn into something more as she grows up.

Posted by: Elizabeth at December 1, 2010 9:11 AM

When I saw this program (and the description) in my listings I about died. I will watch some sick shit on TV, but I think I've finally reached my limit. This show is so pathologically sick I can't even bring myself to check it out for a minute.

Posted by: Fraulein N at December 1, 2010 9:35 AM

Stop watching it, already. Do not feed the troll. Of course, that only works if people en masse don't watch it. What is it with North Americans and sensationalism? Cut it out, already.

Posted by: Martin at December 1, 2010 9:40 AM

Yeah, I hate that for my daughter too. I hate that the friend drama has already started in 1st grade and I'm very aware of things like body image talk.

As for me, I'm only critical to a point. Once I figured out that eating a pound of Oreos every week on top of my bad diet would make me fat, I've been happy with the way I feel and look.

Posted by: Brad at December 1, 2010 9:47 AM

I have never been the skin and bones woman that seems to be desired by society today. I am 37, and all the way through high school, I was a 12, which was normal.

I waited to have a child until I was in my 30's, so my body has not "bounced back" (nor have I forced it), and while I am not completely happy with myself, I can live with it, because I made the choice to be this way.

My daughter turned 4 yesterday, and while I want her to make different choices than I made, I would be horrified if she were bullied because of her looks or shape. Which, is what that show is, a big bully.

Posted by: Jen, now in AZ at December 1, 2010 9:55 AM

Awful. Won't watch. Girls have enough issues with everyone's perception of how everyone should look.

All you can do is raise her to be herself, independent and have confidence in herself. Hope that she doesn't get caught up in that stuff. I was bullied for years for being tall and really skinny in school. It really was about me looking different and I couldn't help it. I was naturally thinner and taller. Anymore than girls with different genetics could. We are who we are and everyone is special.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at December 1, 2010 10:03 AM

I've pretty much gotten to the point where I feel better when society doesn't approve of what I'm doing, based on the current state of society's ability to suck.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at December 1, 2010 10:16 AM

You forgot one aspect of the horror: the continued perception that a wedding is about the wedding and not the marriage.

This is my continued pet peeve with the bridal industry. Well, that and the princess complex these women get.

Posted by: Cherie Beyond at December 1, 2010 10:36 AM

Didn't you ever watch The Swan? That, in my opinion, was much, much worse.

Posted by: Holly at December 1, 2010 10:37 AM

don't hate me because i watched it and secretly enjoyed it. it's made by the same train-wreck producers that brought us The Swan. remember that horrific show back in 04?

but now you've got me feeling all guilty and like since i enjoyed it i must not be as caring about my own daughter's future. don't get me wrong. I AM. and i choose my words very carefully when talking to lola. but late at night i'm totally gonna watch bridalplasty. i can't help it!

Posted by: kati at December 1, 2010 11:37 AM

When I first read about it I was horrified!! Still am. However, there are two contestants on there that may be there for self-improvement and not over-the-top self-improvement. I read an article that one woman wanted to have her breasts fixed from a botched masectomy....understandable; the other was a Biggest Loser contestant who lost over 150 lbs and wanted a tummy-tuck. I can't fault these ladies as they may not be able to afford the procedures otherwise, but the others are just twisted. The wedding day is too important in our society. The focus, as another poster stated, should be the marriage.

As for Mia and other young girls, I hope that parents turn the channel or at least explain what is wrong with this type of mindset.

Posted by: Krush at December 1, 2010 12:50 PM

That kind of stuff just breaks my heart. How is any girl supposed to grow up with healthy self image (and boys too, though it's not spoon-fed so determinately to the male of the species) with that kind of dreck clouding the public consciousness? And how will anyone ever learn that human beings have value as such, that is not depending on their waist measurement or cup size? It's sad and awful and utterly ridiculous.

Posted by: Heather at December 1, 2010 1:14 PM

After living in L.A....

Honestly, if I had time and less fear of surgery, I'd fix my nose. First, it's crooked and causes me to be sick more often, but also I think it's just plain ugly. I always try to get back into the BMI range I'm supposed to be in because I get so many compliments when I'm there. It's a ten pound difference, and I think I look better and am healthier.

That being said, I also think coming from you and Beth, Mia will be, as she already is, stunning. You guys are ridiculously good looking. You're the family that shows up in the frame before us normal folks put our own pictures in. And this isn't sunshine up your @$$, I've said this for the last 7 years.

Most people, men and women, are very insecure about how they look. I think everyone is also insecure about what they say and if they're going to be accepted for their background, etc. It's just that appearances are something we can change. Do I think there are predators in the pond like plastic surgeons and shows like this? Yes. But I do think it's just part of genetics and not much we're ever going to change. We're set up to want to make it up the genetic scale with our own, and part of that is being physically attractive to the best mate possible.

Yes, as an emotional response, I hate all this. And even if Mia were hideous, I know everyone would love her because she is who she is. But she's got an advantage, and I'm glad for her.

Posted by: alektra at December 1, 2010 3:09 PM

You are making this up, right?

Posted by: Leilani at December 1, 2010 4:11 PM

That's horrible... and I really hope it is a joke.

Posted by: Jen R. ( at December 1, 2010 4:52 PM

I've seen the ads for this show and it makes me ill. Just when I think Reality TV can't get anymore insane, it does. I know my perception of myself is warped (I always think I am far larger than I really am to the point where it's scary sometimes). And now that I'm pregnant (31 weeks), I try so hard to not give a shit that I've gained a LOT (no lie) of weight. But it's hard when celebrities brag about gaining 20lbs and then losing it all immediately after giving birth simply by "chasing around the kids". Come on.

I try hard (and succeed) at not voicing my body issues in front of my daughter. But everywhere you turn, kids are exposed to it. But the "girls" our children "look up to" don't help. They talk about how gross acne is, and diet and exercise (which is great, in moderation). And then you have crack pots like Heidi Pratt (who I feel was beautiful to begin with) getting 67 procedures done at once and it makes me want to scream.

Posted by: js at December 1, 2010 5:36 PM

I try not to let it, but heck, I'm 52 years old, and there are wrinkles and age spots galore. I try very hard to just be happy with myself the way I am, but I do Weight Watchers for the part of me I want to be better, and that's my weight and health.

Posted by: at December 1, 2010 5:37 PM

This is disgusting. It's also disgusting that as a female of a certain age, I feel the pressure to be perfect. I have to admit, sometimes I read a magazine and feel completely shitty about myself. I gained 30 pounds last year while on antidepressants, and it's taking a while to come off. For a while, I was fat-shaming myself and feeling guilty about every Happy Meal or piece of candy that I ate. Recently, though, I told myself to just stop it. I'm not going to be perfect. I'm lucky enough to have a boyfriend/future husband that loves my body and every imperfection that it has. He never gives me any pressure to change for appearances, but he does encourage me to work out so that we can BOTH be healthy. Now, I have the mindset (most of the time) that life is short, and dammit, I'm going to enjoy it. If that means I have a cheeseburger, then I'm going to savor every fatty bite. I hate that not every woman is lucky enough to have the support system that I have or the knowledge to know that life is short and we should enjoy it instead of fat-shaming ourselves. And shows like this are not going to improve matters at all.

Posted by: Stephanie at December 1, 2010 6:13 PM

My 14 year old daughter has never worn makeup. Never pierced her ears, or anyplace else. Considers throwing her hair in a ponytail "doing her hair,"spends nothing on clothes, hates shopping, and has no idea who Justin Bieber is.

If I had any idea how we did this I'd write a book and get rich. But alas, I haven't clue.

Posted by: COD at December 1, 2010 7:31 PM

My feelings on this...first, this is completely gross. To compete to go under the knife is just gross. Second, why do these women feel they need to go under the knife to improve their looks to get married to the man they love and who obviously loved them the way they are?? There's something completely wrong about that.

I turn the channel when the commercial comes on. It just sickens me.

Posted by: cyndy at December 2, 2010 9:59 AM

Oh. My. God.
This is a huge statement about our society in general. Truly, truly sick.

I am so glad I don't have a TV.

Posted by: jessica at December 2, 2010 12:31 PM

In answer to your question... As I've grown older, on one hand, the pressure to be "perfect" (yucky word) has lessened. I rarely wear makeup anymore and don't dye my graying hair. I should exercise more but my BMI is considered in the healthy range.
On the other hand, the wrinkles and the effect of gravity on my body/face bother me a great deal... not so much because of society's general disdain but that it reminds me of the loss of youth and my mortality.
Sure, I miss those appreciate glances in days gone by of young men but those have been replaced by respect and consideration of friends and acquaintances who appreciate the real me, inside.

Posted by: One Wink at a Time at December 3, 2010 9:56 PM

God, that is just not right ...
I think we're all lying if we say we aren't affected by societal norms on some level. I'd like to say I'm immune. I wish I could fly farther away from society conventions. But then it just seems I'm falling into another clique...

Yeah. I have issues. Just trying not to conform is harder than I thought.

Posted by: Nat at December 5, 2010 11:12 AM