Why Makeover Television Is So Popular

Page 1

Why Makeover Television Is So Popular Dissertation by Hannah Springett







Historical Context


Chapter 1 Humiliation and tears


Chapter 2 Conforming to media ideals


Chapter 3 Shocking content and surgery imagery


Chapter 4 happily ever after






Reading material / Research Sources


Fig 1. Photograph taken during the filming of 10 Years Younger. Image taken by myself, Hannah Springett on 26/10/2006.


Introduction Have you ever looked in the mirror and disliked what you saw? Have you ever felt the need to be thinner, prettier or a body swap? Well, in a culture that’s obsessed with looking a certain way and transforming their style and bodies, you’re not alone. Makeovers have become increasingly popular during the last hundred years and I intend to find out why.

Fig 2. Photographs taken during the filming of 10YY. Image taken by myself, Hannah Springett on 26/10/2006.

Fig 3. Photographs taken from: 10YY Series 4, Episode 5. 2007. Maverick Productions For Channel 4.

In 2006, a family relative, Mrs Beverly Hawkins, appeared on the makeover show Ten Years Younger (10YY) shown in Fig 1. I was closely involved in the making of the show and became very interested in this particular genre of television. The programme itself is a Channel 4 prime time show that takes middle aged, average women, who hate their appearance and transform them with the use of surgery. Whilst on the show my aunt had six invasive cosmetic treatments, which were followed by a complete restyle of her clothes, makeup and hair. I was featured several times on the show and was part of the ‘reveal’ along with other members of my family (Fig. 2-3). Along with the cameras I had access to the real story. As Heller and Deery in “Interior Design: Commodifying Self And Place” (2007, p.170) states, in any reality makeover, services are provided only if the camera has full access. Witnessing the transformation created by a team of experts led me to ask why makeover television is so popular? Makeover shows have been screened since the 1950’s when ‘Queen For a Day’ was first broadcast (see historical context). Since then, this subgenre of lifestyle television and reality TV has escalated into several forms. Programming varies from home and garden makeovers to pageants, comparisons of cosmetically enhanced women to endless fashion improvement shows. Because of this recent, growing variety of shows, I intend to look at their popularity and growth. 02

Two books that I have found particularly informative were Dana Heller’s The Great American Makeover and Makeover Television: Realities Remodelled. Featured in these books were articles by Cassidy, Watts and Deery, which analysed key points about fairytales, celebrities, consumerism and popular culture. A vital primary source has been my aunt who has not only provided her thoughts on the show but also reflections on these experiences three years on. With additional website, magazine and television research I have been able to see the relevance of popular culture and current trends. The structure within which I will explore these themes is depicted in four chapters. ‘Humiliation’ provides the theme for the first chapter. The common trend of showing the contestants’ at their worst is normally followed with scenes of crying and the disclosure of relevant sob stories. Many current programmes use this opening, for example the 360 degree mirror used in What Not To Wear (Fig 4-5), the close ups showing flaws in 10YY (Fig 6-7) and the public display of nakedness shown in Gok Wan’s How To Look Good Naked (Fig 8-11). These insights into the contestant’s personal lives are becoming a growing part of reality television, even becoming popular in programmes such as X-Factor. Why is it that the audience loves to watch the humiliation of others? My second theme is the concept of conformity. Strongly influenced by advertising, consumerism and the media in general, we see contestants under pressure to improve their lives to meet certain ideals. I intent to focus on cosmetic surgery makeover shows in particular as they reflect the most dramatic examples of normal people transforming themselves into their ‘perfect profile’. Celebrity endorsement and the role of experts are both integral parts of this process. Why do so many people, especially women want to know how to transform themselves and therefore their lives? The nature of shocking imagery and horror is analysed in my third chapter. In the more extreme makeover shows, close up surgery shots of an intimate nature are designed to shock. Links to freakshows and body shock elements are explored. Why are we so interested in these ‘freaks of nature’? Many of the surgery shots and close ups of blood and gore and very similar to the horror genre. The scenes of surgery in the show also offer more factual content for the viewer. The shows usually list prices and procedures, which familiarise the viewer with the options they have. I will then look into the references to pornography; a lot of the imagery on the makeover shows are close ups of a female naked body and which in the concluding scenes appear to reference hyper-feminised ‘porn stars’. Why do we find this ‘hard to watch’ element so engaging? 03

Fig 4-5. Photographs taken from: What Not To Wear, Series 1, BBC, 2004.

Fig 6-7. Photographs taken from: 10YY Series 4, Episode 5. Maverick Productions For Channel 4. 2007.

The last chapter is about the ‘Happily Ever After’. It is a fact that the makeover show receives highest ratings in the last 15 minutes of air time showing that the end product is the most popular aspect. As Cassidy, M.F. and Heller, D states in “The Cinderella Makeover” (2007, p.131) the ‘reveal’ is all about the spectacle of metamorphosis - the thrill of ‘before and after. It is what the show has built up to, what the audience can finally see if the transformation has been successful. This also links to the fairytale belief that everything should always end ‘happily ever after’ and give the audience the ‘feel good’ factor. Are we living in a fantasy world where bad endings don’t happen? My Aunts ‘ending’ was left on a ‘high’ but what is the reality? The contestant’s lives ‘end’ with the conclusion of the show. As Andy Warhol would state it was their ‘15 minutes of fame’. Does the show allow us to believe that there is a happy ending for us all?

Fig 8-11. Photographs taken from: Gok Wan’s How To Look Good Naked. Series 5 , Episode 3-15. Channel 4. 2008. 04


Opposite: Fig 12-13 Makeup advertisements from the 1920’s. Taken from Deco Dog Beauty Blog: www.decodog.com/inven/ beauty2, Accessed on the 19th December 2009.

Historical Context Between 1909 and 1929, the cosmetic industry grew rapidly, the value of cosmetic products in America soared from $14.2 - $141 million. Women of all classes began to buy cosmetics as they became affordable, this created a new demand for cosmetic advertising. The idea of the ‘makeover’ started in the early 1920’s as ‘before and after’ imagery was being used in these new ads (Fig 12-14). In these first cosmetic advertisements you can see how housewives aspired to make themselves ‘better’ by buying into the products. With the developments in cosmetics and the growing desire of women to ‘better themselves’ it was not long before the first makeover of an ‘average reader’ was released in the media. In February 1936 Madememoiselle Magazine published its first makeover story of a nurse named Barbara Phillips. The article demonstrated how to improve her appearance. ‘Advertisers worked this into their advertising concepts by making cosmetics possible to remake her life chances. This is how cosmetics were transformed from what started as freedom and modernity for women to a narrow standard of normality’ (Emily Merger, 2009). Opposite: Fig 14 Makeup advertisements from the 1920’s. Taken from Glamourdaze blog: http://glamourdaze.blogspot. com/2009/01/1920s-cosmetics-advertising.html, Accessed on the 19th December 2009.

The first makeover television show was broadcast in Los Angeles locally in 1947. Queen For A Day was an instance success (Fig 15-17). The show consisted of several contestants’ informing Jack Bailey, popular host, of their life stories and their suffering before being chosen by the viewing audience. Most of the women had been affected by the war and many had husbands still serving in the civil war. The development of self-improvement and cosmetics was also enhanced by the end of the War. The nation as a whole was recovering from the restriction of the war and was trying to better itself. ‘Make do and mend’ was a common phrase of the time as everyone was encouraged to, ‘do it yourself’ at home. The new products that became available at this time were endless, for the first time products were being advertised for your home, your life and your body. Queen For A Day made it possible for housewives around the country to learn how to improve their own lives at home. NBC studios also released another successful show around this time. 06

‘When Glamour girl premiered on July 6. 1953, NBC appeared to have discovered a winning formula, one that linked that Hollywood-style makeover of body and soul to redemption from misery. Early reviews of Glamour girl were filled with praise.’ Cassidy, M.F. and Heller, D states in “The Cinderella Makeover” (2007, p.131) Makeover shows have now taken the more drastic transformation routes due to the developments in plastic surgery. Until the middle of the 19th century cosmetic surgery had been limited, the discovery of anaesthesia changed this. Cosmetic surgery increased at a tremendous rate after the introduction of reliable anaesthetics developed. They weren’t accepted by the general public. Stanek, J. (2007) states before the Second World War, cosmetic surgery was considered unethical and even immoral. The war enabled huge developments in surgical techniques, primarily from treating war injuries. The public became more accepting of surgery when it was seen to be used to help people. ‘Surgical art’ was first discussed in 1943 in the Times Newspaper which was then followed by stories of free surgery for bomb victims, new training centres and even the Queen Elizabeth II’s support of surgical developments. The 1950’s brought cosmetic surgery to the rich and famous. Stanek, J. (2007) states where Hollywood stars led, the public slowly began to follow’. Celebrity culture took off and the general public started to aspire to mimic their idols. By the sixties, the media was documenting innovation in cosmetic surgery and the developments of ‘silicon implants’ and ‘collagen fill’ created a sky rocketing demand. It is quite clear that with the development of cosmetic advertising and cosmetic surgery there was enough interest for the media to broadcast programmes which advertised surgery. In the last 15 years the number of makeover television programmes have risen dramatically. Everything we watch now has a link to this ‘before and after’ format. This historical context should show that the popularity of makeover television has been enhanced by the popularity of cosmetic surgery and the developments in broadcasting. The 1990’s saw the makeover expand into a full-length format and move into prime time schedules. However, where daytime television makeovers often focused on issues of personal style and fashion, the first successful makeover formats were shows oriented towards investing in and improving the home rather than the self. (Lewis, T. 2008). Although I am focussing my research on lifestyle and body makeovers the popularity of the home makeover cannot be over looked. Changing Rooms (Fig. 18), Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (Fig. 19), Home front, Property ladder (Fig. 21) and DIY SOS (Fig. 20) are examples 07 from this genre. Being able to improve your own home is the essence of the makeover

Fig 15-17 Clips taken from Queen For A Day, 1947, NBC From the website: www.queenforaday.com accessed on the 19th of December 2009.

show. As Powell, H, Prasad, S. and Heller, D. in ‘Life Swap: Celebrity Expert as Lifestyle Adviser’ (2007, p57) state DIY programmes were also popular viewing choices in Britain, tapping into the post-war ethos for self improvement. The history behind these shows is derived from the 1950’s boom in manufacture and consumption. As the public demand for these shows grew, they gradually became more about the self and body makeovers. Shocking images became the ‘norm’ and TV companies were under pressure to provide something new to keep ratings high. Fig 18 Image showing the team of experts and presenters from Changing Rooms. BBC 2004.

Fig 19 Image showing the team of experts and presenters from Extreme Makeover Home Edition. NBC 2004.

Fig 20 Image showing the team of experts and presenters from DIY SOS. BBC 2004.

Fig 21 Image showing the team of experts and presenters from Property Ladder. Channel 4. 2006.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 8.7 million people went under the knife in 2003, up 33 percent from the year before. Medical makeovers are no longer for celebrities (Pliagas,L. 2004). This powerful quote, concluding my historical context provides the perfect evidence of the makeover now becoming accessible to everyone.


Fig 22. Photograph from google images. Image of Susan Boyle performing on Britains Got Talent.


Chapter 1 Humiliation and Tears This chapter looks at the contestants of makeover shows, their humiliation and ridicule on television for the entertainment of viewers. The producers of the shows create extremes that will have mass appeal. Mockery from the narrators, experts and the exploitation of the contestants’ life stories all create mixed reactions. Why is it that the audience loves to watch the humiliation of normal people? Making entertainment out of peoples weaknesses has historically been part of television (Mills, N. 2004). Ridicule and mockery is a key theme at the start of any makeover television programme. Throughout the genre there is a trend depicting the contestant at their worst to maximise the overall transformation at the end. As Cassidy, M.F. and Heller, D states in “The Cinderella Makeover” (2007, p.130) suggests these shows scrutinize in close-up how distress has crept into a womans’ appearance - visible in her face, her voice, the cut of her hair, her sloping posture, or the drabness of her figure. Along with the inspection for any hidden flaws the contestant is often humiliated in public. 10YY begins by getting the general public to guess the contestants age. In my Aunt’s episode (Episode 5, Season 4) the producers got her to stand on a stage in front of a hall full of bingo players while people guessed her age (Fig 23-24). While they filmed, I watched as my Aunt had to listen to harsh criticisms. Fig 23-24. Photographs taken from: 10YY Series 4, Episode 5. Maverick Productions For Channel 4. 2007.

A game approach, i.e. who is right and who is wrong, also features strongly in makeover television to engage viewers. As Ouellette, L. and Hay, J (2008) states Ten Years Younger takes a more participatory approach to the aesthetic management of age by fusing techniques of self-fashioning to conventions of gaming. 10YY is popular because of the element of audience participation. Many viewers will be guessing the age before it is revealed. Also there is an element of people asking ‘I don’t look as bad as that do I?’ The show makes viewers, particularly women, compare themselves to the contestant.


What Not To Wear employs a similar opening, contestants are asked to stand inside a 360 degree mirror (Fig 4-5). The rotating platform and tick list of changes needed are used to the same effect in Extreme Makeover and The Swan. Gok Wan’s How To Look Good Naked has also taken humiliation to the extreme. As Mills, N (2004) states the show counts on its participants’ self-loathing to give it appeal. To get the women to face their fears some strategies have included: projecting their naked bodies onto the sides of buildings (Fig. 25), on the side of boats, in night clubs on big screens (Fig. 26), Large displays at public events (Fig. 27) and even the conversion of several phone boxes into life size naked contestants. A public spectacle isn’t the only way to ridicule the contestant, often the most humiliating part is added later by the narration. On my Aunt’s show she was talked about in such a way the narration was comedic. The narrator was seeking a laugh at any opportunity; a particularly upsetting link to Little Britain was used, comparing my Aunt to Vicky Pollards Mum! The tragic teeth and unfunny laughter lines that scream ‘light me another fag’ don’t do any favours either (Ten Years Younger Website, 2009). ‘Asbo chic’; ‘ding dong the witch is dead!’, are just some of the cheap jibes quoted from the show. This comedic addition to the programme helps to make light of the serious issues some of the women are going through. Its ‘lighthearted, practical joke quality’ (Mills, N. 2004) make these shows a little less depressing and far more entertaining. Again Mills, N (2004) states given the ratings achieved by humiliation TV, there is no reason to expect the programs will go away any time soon. ‘We’re a skin deep society, and one that judges people on appearance. Consciously or subconsciously, rightly or wrongly, each and every one of us has at some point passed judgement on someone else based on the way they look.’ (Hamilton Jones, N. 2005). 10YY is popular is because the public loves to judge. Remembering the image of my Aunt on the bingo hall stage being laughed at and judged has a true comparison to X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. These programs have an understandable appeal. The audition stage of the competition is often the funniest parts of the series. Watching people on stage performing badly is comic and very entertaining (Fig. 28-31). Makeover shows appeal to the same audience in this respect. ‘As Powell, H. Prasad, S. and Heller, D. in ‘Life swap: Celebrity Expert as Lifestyle Adviser’ (2007, p60) suggests, in a modern society the way in which one is judged by others becomes important and is integral to a sense of identity’. This suggestion relates to the judging that we do at home whilst watching makeover television or the panel of judges on X-Factor. Part of the fun of the show is anticipating what the judges are going to say about each performance. Cowell specializes in badgering hapless 11 singers, and it is his put-downs that fans wait for each week (Mills, N. 2004).

Fig 25-27 Photographs taken from: Gok Wan’s How to Look Good Naked, Series 5, Channel 4. 2008.

The judgements we often make about people shown on the television often relate back to class issues. Witnessing contestants who are worse off than ourselves in some way, singing ability or looks makes us feel better about our own situation. As Gortom, K (2008, p13) suggests this is the ‘ugly’ side of reality and lifestyle programmes ... many viewers watch these programmes to feel better about themselves’. Watts, A and Heller, D in ‘Queen for a day: Remaking consumer culture one woman at a time’ (2007, p147) agree with this when saying the women watching at home feel a distinct moral superiority over the participants. Many of the contestants on these shows are from poorer social economic backgrounds, expensive makeovers would not be available to them normally. However Moseley, R (2000) suggests on the Royle Family (a typical portrayal of a working class family in the north of England) there is one episode that shows the family sitting and watching Changing Rooms and commenting on how they wouldn’t need to go on a show like that. The characters depicted were actually the social economic group that the programmes are aimed at. These shows appeal to all economic backgrounds due to the diversity of the programme. There is a similarity that appears here between reality tv and lifestyle programmes. As Gortom, K. (2008) suggests on the one hand we, as viewers, are drawn into the emotional situations the characters find themselves in, and yet, on the other, we are also encouraged to speculate, judge and attend to the choices and decisions the families have made and continue to make. The viewer becomes emotionally involved with the contestants and a certain amount of sympathy is provoked.

Fig 28-31 Photographs taken from Xfactor, ITV. Images sourced from www.google.com/images accessed on 19/12/09.

Following the humiliation the contestants usually share their life stories and explain why they want to turn their lives around. ‘Sob stories’ have begun to play an increasingly big part in today’s reality television (Fig. 32-34). Providing a winning sob story is a key component of being chosen for programmes like Britain’s Got Talent, X-Factor and Big Brother. The bigger the sob story the more likely you are to be chosen. Sob stories appeal for several reasons, primarily it forces the audience to sympathise with the contestant and become emotionally involved. Every TV producer knows that ratings mean money, and the key to ratings is drama ... if the producers have done their jobs well, empathy kicks in (Associated Content, 2006). Makeover shows are created around the contestants life story which is often filled with depressing and upsetting content that makes the audience want to help. As Gortom, K (2008) suggests ‘they invite us, the audience, to reflect on our intimate feelings and relationships through an empathetic engagement with the participants.’ Some of the most tragic sob stories are shown on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. In one episode the Westbrook family are introduced. The father and son of the family had been in a severe car accident and had both been paralysed. The programme explained how the family in their homes needed suitable wheel chair access. The miracle team arrived to ‘save the day’. 12

Audiences on a massive scale want to find out what happens. The extreme nature of the sob stories on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition are exaggerated in every respect. In this particular episode they brought in three tanks to crush and break apart the existing home. This makeover show with its ‘over the top’ nature obviously knows how to grab an audience. As Heller, D (2007) suggests ratings have posted higher than popular scripted dramas, gaining audiences in a surge that has stunned both critics and industry executives. Watching normal every day people on television discussing their lives, often crying, can create a very emotional response with the audience. ‘As Menendez tells his students, ‘we don’t want to make motion pictures, we want to make emotion pictures. If a movie does not make you laugh or cry’ -- or cringe in fear, or chomp your nails in suspense -- it’s not fulfilling its mission, he says.’ Cling, C. (2009) Makeover television focuses on transforming everyday ‘normal’ people, depicting within the programme the actual audience. One of the reasons these shows are so popular is that the audience can imagine it happening to themselves. Pliagas, L. (2004) suggest these kinds of television shows sell hope... Hope is a very strong word. When you feel that you are not comfortable with who you are, if you have hope, hope can bring change. In my Aunt’s case she had always wanted surgery but could never afford it. When I first heard that she was applying for the show I was extremely pleased for her. ‘Whilst watching the first series I had always imagined myself getting the hook taken out of my nose and getting a face lift. I would never have been able to afford the surgery so the show was my way to get it’ Hawkins, B (2009). Overall in this section I have looked at several reasons why makeover shows are popular. Audiences love to be ‘moved’, by providing a sob story which gets sympathy or empathy viewers will stay tuned to see what happens. The gaming and comedy elements of the shows make the severity of the women’s distress more ligh thearted, ensuring less guilt.

Fig 32-34 Photographs taken from: 10YY Series 4, Episode 5, Maverick Productions For Channel 4,2007 and What Not To Wear, BBC, 2005.


Fig 35 These photographs are the ‘before and after’ shots of contestants that have appeared on Ten Years Younger. Images sourced from www.Channel4.com.


Fig 36. Photograph of magazine covers from October 2009. Photograph taken by Hannah Springett.


Chapter 2 Conforming to ideals “But what are the reasons behind the rise in popularity we have seen in recent years? One is undoubtedly the fact that they tap into everyone’s insecurity about their appearance. Another reason is the effect the media has had making it more accessible than ever. The part that 10 Years Younger has played in this is unmistakable.” Stanek, J (2007). This quote by Jan Stanek (surgeon on 10YY) shows the media’s impact on everyone’s lives. Everyday we can walk down a street and see beautiful, perfect women. This chapter looks at why this ideal woman and the process of getting to that goal is so important on makeover television. Women not only watch the shows to find out how to do it themselves at home but to find out what products they need to buy in order to buy into a better life with the help of experts.

Fig 37. Andy Warhol, 100 Cans, 1962 Oil on canvas, 72 x 52” (182.9 x 132.1 cm.) Image sourced from www.google.com/images.

As Cassidy, M.F. and Heller, D in ‘The Cinderella Makeover’ (2007, p125) suggests during the 1950s, television and the beauty industries were allied in the mutual promotion of a woman’s never-ending pursuit of curative glamour. Advertising took off in the 1950’s when consumerism started to grow rapidly. It was reflected in television, magazines and artists of the time (Fig. 37). The concept of the makeover in Queen For A Day and Glamour Girl were secondary to the advertising and product promotion on the shows. Sponsors played a big part in the shows as this was the first chance the public got to see new gadgets, products and brand names (Fig. 38-43). The surge of advertising and products displayed on makeover television has increased hugely since these first shows. Everyone wants to better themselves and be seen to have to correct type of lifestyle. As Deery, J. and Heller, D in ‘Interior Design: Commodifying Self and Place’ (2007, p162) this is the central faith of an advertising-driven consumerist company which makeovers amplify by focusing on the gap between the imperfect and the ideal. Buying into these products will change your life. This seems to be the moral theme running through all makeover programming. 16

10YY spends roughly 45% of its program showing clips from the latest fashion shows, the latest trends and the products its used on the programmes, and of course, the commercial breaks. Women have become obsessed with following the latest trends, having this link to current fashion is extremely important to the shows popularity. Many shows have been created in recent years concentrating solely on fashion makeovers. Gok’s Fashion Fix started in 2008 and shows how to create the designer trends with a ‘high street’ budget (Fig. 44-49). The majority of the show is based on the competition between designer and high street stores also includes a makeover of an everyday woman. Recent reviews of his latest series show that he really has got the right mix. DooYoo Website, (2009) quote I would highly recommend this show to every woman who is interested in clothes and fashion as it is fun to watch and gives you great ideas on what to wear. Cosmetic surgery makeover television is also advertising plastic surgery itself. As How To Look Good Naked Website (2009) suggests these ‘radical’ makeover shows create hybrid bodies: it joins bodies with objects (implants, scalpels) and bodies with media. Shows such as 10YY, Extreme Makeover, The Swan and now even new shows such as Bleach, Nip, Tuck: The White Beauty Myth all normalize surgery. By advertising plastic surgery it appeals to the audience in the same way that fashion links appeal. Instead of seeing the latest styles and silhouettes of clothes that are hitting the runway you can see the latest ‘nose jobs’ or skin treatments available. The body itself is becoming a designer product. Davis, K. (1995) suggests women are instructed that their bodies are unacceptable: too fat, too thin, too wrinkled, too old and now, too ethnic. Makeover television has diversified from the first shows and now show the most 17 obscure types of makeovers.

Fig 38-43 Clips taken from Queen For A Day, 1947, NBC From the website: www. queenforaday.com accessed on the 19th of December 2009.

Fig 38-43 Photographs taken from: 10YY Series 4, Episode 5. Maverick Productions For Channel 4. 2007.

Fig 44-49 Photographs taken from: Gok’s Fashion Fix. Series 3. Maverick Productions For Channel 4.

Bleach, Nip Tuck: The White Beauty Myth now shows 6 examples of people using cosmetic surgery to become more ‘westernised’. The Swan has also been criticized for creating more western looks on Hispanic contestants. Even shows such as X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent are featuring their own makeovers (Fig. 50-52). From the first auditions to the final winner the contestants are transformed, improving their identities as well as improving their voices. It would appear that a potential, successful pop star cannot succeed without an up to date ‘edgy’ new look. The vast majority of our nation are obsessed with rules and regulations. Makeover shows consist of a set of rules you should follow at home to make you a better person and throughout the programmes hints and tips and given on how to do it yourself. This is one of the most important parts of the show. Audience participation and interaction is key to why these shows are popular. We as an audience believe that if a expert tells us to do something we probably should be doing it. As Spillane, M (1998) suggests any successful makeover requires a team of talent to create the best possible new look. This is the reason ‘experts’ play such a big role in the programme. In one programme of 10YY advice about hair, makeup, surgery, teeth, skin, eating habits, health, fashion and accessories are all covered in one programme. You will probably learn more in one hour’s programme than by reading numerous magazines. As Oueliette, L and Hay, J (2008) suggests all this advice and customized ‘rules’ are to guide her in a lifelong pursuit of self-fashioning after the TV cameras have moved on. This is also the case in magazines and other media. Women’s magazines and the structures of these programmes continually reinforces messages about the role of women and provides a mirror reflecting the real world. The celebrity expert has become increasingly important. 2005 saw the first ‘best celebrity expert’ category in the British National Television awards which proved that these characters were firmly embedded within television culture. Powell, H, Prasad, S and Heller, D in ‘Life Swap: Celebrity expert as a lifestyle advisor’ (2007, p56) suggests that this not only demonstrates the proliferation and popularity of such figures across the daytime and evening schedule, but also allows for the problematrization of their role within popular culture. The reason we find experts so popular is that we love to be told what to do. Again Powel, H Prasad, S and Heller, D (2007, p61) suggests we need experts to guide and inform us ... celebrity experts offer us the possibility to bridge the gap between their world and ours. Experts are seen to be ‘friends’ of the contestants. In my aunties case Nicky Hamilton Jones is seen as the shoulder to cry on and the person to change everything for the better. We see celebrities as ordinary people. Their harsh criticisms and embarrassing actions are allowed as they are famous and ‘just trying to help’. In Nicky’s self help book that accompanies the series she says ‘My passion in life is helping people feel better about themselves. Hamilton Jones, N (2005).

Fig 50-51 Photographs show Stacey Solomon ‘Before and After’. She was part of the 2009 X Factor and made it to third position. Images sourced from www.google.com/images


Fig 52. Photograph of a newspaper showing Susan Boyles Makeover. Image sourced from google images.


The celebrity is a big attraction to makeover shows, with some shows becoming more popular due to their celebrity involvement. Gok’s Fashion Fix was released in 2008 after he had successfully built a name for himself in How To Look Good Naked. Gok Wan is a particularly popular example; he himself used to suffer with eating disorders so plays a more understanding role (Fig. 53-54). Trinny and Sussannah from What Not To Wear are also favourites, as they themselves have different body shapes from the ideal. Along with the celebrity experts and presenters of the shows, makeover television creates its own celebrities. Viewers imagine being in the contestants position and dream of maybe becoming a celebrity themselves. In The Swan’s first series the winning contestant managed to advance her career from a housewife to a television presenter. These shows allow the contestants their ‘15 minutes of fame’ (Andy Warhol). Everyone likes the idea of becoming a celebrity. Reiss, S (2001) suggests the secret thrill of many of those viewers is’ the thought that perhaps next time, the new celebrities might be them. Some makeover shows do this in more extreme way than others. The makeover show I Want A Famous Face takes the celebrity ideal to an extreme. The series shows numerous Americans undergoing plastic surgery to look more like their idols who include Britney Spears, Elvis Presley and Brad Pitt. This is a very extreme example of makeover television where conforming to a media look is taken to the limit. Jan Stanek (2007) suggests another misconception is that cosmetic surgery can make you look like a famous personality... It should never be used to dramatically alter a person’s appearance to look like someone else. This show is more about the freakish obsessions than making people feel better about themselves. Other programmes look at celebrities having surgery. Under the Knife: Celebrity Plastic Surgery was based around a series of operations performed on American stars. These shows are very popular because it shows an insight into celebrity life. Celebrity endorcements now saturate the the media, from Cheryl Cole’s ‘Loreal’ hair to Kate Moss’s new line of clothes at Topshop. People will always buy into these products.

Fig 53-54 Photographs show Gok Wan ‘Before and After’. Images sourced from www.google.com/images

Fig. 55 clearly shows that there is one look that is considered beautiful. All the women have been designed with hyper-feminized long hair, sleek curvy bodies, large American smiles and breasts to match. Deery, J and Heller, D in Interior Design: Commodifying Self and Place’ (2007, p172) suggests the way these shows churn out people who conform to a narrow range of media ideals brings to mind Adorno’s concern regarding the culture industry, which is the push in monopoly capitalism toward standardization. Michael Jackson (Fig. 56) has made people realise that it is now possible to change your skin colour and become westernised. A surgeon on the show Bleach, Nip, Tuck: The White Beauty Myth has admitted his help in creating ‘a better race’ which combines the best parts of all races. 20

Fig 55 This image shows the contestants on the first series of The Swan. It shows the after results. Image sourced on www.google.com/images.


An Afro-Caribbean woman on this show was shown having rhinoplasty to make her look like her Barbie ideal. This ‘Barbie-esque’ ideal suggested by Deery, J and Heller, D (2007) has been held up by the ideal of many women. These shows are all producing similar products. Are we being sold to the public like Barbie? You can now go and pick the body, face and skin tone off the shelf. As Balive, M (2006) suggests it was like they all had gone out and bought the same model. Although these women all look the same, programs like these hold mass appeal as it exposes how the desperate need to redesign ourselves has taken over our culture. Plastic surgery is now marketed, sold and considered as another object to be purchased as part of the consumer culture. Fig 56 This image shows Michael Jackson at two stages in his life before and after surgery. The image was sourced from www.google.com/images.

Fig 57-58 Photographs taken from: Bleach, Nip, Tuck. The White Beauty Myth. Channel 4 2009.

Front covers of women’s magazines show an insight into the makeover culture (Fig. 36). One magazine had particular focus on cosmetic surgery. In 1994 Steven Miesel, a well known photographer helped to create a 70 page spread in Italian Vogue dedicated to cosmetic surgery. The images (Fig. 59-76) are beautiful. They glamorize cosmetic surgery in a way that has not been seen before. Shot after shot show gorgeous models before and after surgery. However, Jerslev, A and Heller D in ‘Makeover Madness’ (2007, p195) states ‘Makeover Madness’ is remarkable, in the sense that it actually situates the model body where it has never been seen before in fashion photography - that is, on the operating table - and further stigmatizes it with the blue lines and circles from crayons or a liposuction cannula. These images glamorize surgery more than any others I have seen. It was no doubt a hugely popular issue. Makeover shows are just a continuation of the media images that surround us. As a nation of perfectionists it is easy to see why these shows take up so much of prime time television. Conforming to the media look will never go away as long as the media uses images that have been airbrushed and retouched, we are in danger of not believing any photograph we see. It is a repetitive cycle; The more we idolize the women in magazines the more the magazines will show women that act as idols. It is in the medias interest to make the viewers mistake their representations for reality. In this way products are then seen as ‘solutions’ to problems, which can be bought and sold. The viewers/spectators who recognize these ideologies at work then have two choices. To buy or not to buy. Either way you lose out.


Fig 59-76. Photographs for Italien Vogue, Makeover Madness issue. 1994. Photographed by Steven Miesel.











Fig 77. Image of cosmetic surgery. Sourced from www.google.com/images


Chapter 3 - Horror And Surgery This chapter focuses on cosmetic surgery reality television, which includes the more intimate makeover shows. As Dovey, J (2000) suggests the biggest television ratings last year were for shows about cops, accidents, freaks, horror and disasters. They continue to perform best in genre. Many people have made money from disfigurement and disabilities. In one episode of 10YY they made over a woman with a ‘lazy eye’. Observing people with problems links us to the popularity of ‘freakshows’. According to Associated Content (2007) for a hundred years one of America’s most popular entertainment was the freak shows (Fig. 78). Today the popularity is based around people that ‘are not considered the norm’. This element to makeover television brings in high ratings and a lot of human interest. Other freakshows on television i.e. the body shock series produced by Channel 4 were hugely popular as it depicted people with disabilities or birth defects that were very different. These included the Tallest Man And Me, Half Ton Mom and The Girl With 6 Limbs (Fig. 79-81). Documentaries of Lola Ferrari (Fig. 82) and Pamela Anderson were created to show the effects of plastic surgery becoming an obsession. These shows gratify others voyeuristic and theatrical desires.

Fig 78 Victorian advertisement for a travelling freak show. Image sourced from http://www.bl.uk/learning/images/ bodies.

Other freakshow elements on makeover shows involve the surgery shots of people getting liposuction. Scenes highlighting surgical removal of thick, glistening slabs of female fat are, in fact, the ‘money shot’ of extreme makeover reality television. Gailey, E and Heller, D in Self Made Women (2007, p117) suggest at once voyeuristic, sadistic, and grotesquely titillating, these scenes represent the most powerful indictment of the (desexualised) female body in television history. Many different makeover shows have these same types of imagery (Fig. 83) . It’s a very gruesome part of the show but the viewers compelled to watch with an odd fascination. We need to know if the contestants end up ok. Surgery that has gone wrong can be just as popular. Lyons, J (2007) suggests that we are more interested in Frankenstein, in the creation of monsters. 34

Fig 79 This image shows the tallest and smallest men on the planet. Both were featured on the Bodyshock Series on Channel 4. Image sourced from www.google.com/images


Fig 80 This image shows ’Half Ton Mum’ which featured on Channel 4. Image sourced from www.google. com/images

Fig 81 This image shows ’The girl with six limbs’ which featured on the Bodyshock series on Channel 4. Image sourced from www.google.com/images

Fig 82 This image shows Lola Ferrari. The image was sourced from www.google.com/images.

Fig 83 These images are all clips from the Channel 4 Series Bleach, Nip, Tuck: The White Beauty Myth. 2009. Many of these shots are considered to be ‘the money shot’ showing fat removal, open surgery and close ups of flesh.


Cosmetic Surgery Disasters can be seen often in many popular magazines. Again Lola Ferrari was seen as if there was something wrong with her. The oversized breasts and strange facial features all attracted media attention. Pete Burns (Fig 84), Lesley Ash (Fig 85) and of course Michael Jackson (Fig 86) are other celebrities that have suffered major problems when cosmetic surgery went wrong. Makeover shows are popular as every contestant is taking a risk. The audience are waiting to see the result. The last aspect of the freakshows popularity is human interest in cosmetic surgery itself. Initially cosmetic surgery was used to help reconstruct soldiers’ war injuries. It is not surprising that the first operations recorded are interesting to look at. The disabilities that have been improved by cosmetic surgery are amazing. Fig. 87 shows Katie Piper. In her case it was because of new advances in treatments that allowed her face to be reconstructed after an acid attack. This kind of story often makes the papers and people are very keen to read about it. Williams, V (2007) wrote an article on cosmetic surgery in artwork. Fig. 88-91 show Percy Hennells Re-Constructive Surgery Portraits from this article. Images like these are commonly seen on the show Nip Tuck. Nip Tuck is an extremely controversial show which combines the Hollywood glamour of cosmetic surgery with ‘Pro-Bono’ (free) work they do on victims of accidents or those with genetic disorders. Freeman, H (2009) suggests if you want a real horror movie, just walk down Madison Avenue. The city has been taken over by a species - some male, mostly female - of waxy complexioned, fox-faced aliens, who look both pinched and puffy. This quote leads me to my next point why makeover shows are so popular. There are similarities between cosmetic makeover shows and the horror genre. As you view makeovers showing close ups of surgery you find yourself not wanting to watch. Cambell, R (1997) suggests this is the same emotion felt when watching something scary. It shows us sights we would ordinarily look away from or reminds us of insights we might prefer not to admit we have. The blood and gore, drilling, hammering at bone, blue eerie lights all link to an unnatural environment (Fig. 83). Previously this new ‘species’ of people can now be seen as ‘modern day monsters’. Jones, M (2008) suggests when we are frightened to look yet must look is present in the reveal: this is one of the characteristics that aligns it with horror movies. Several popular horror films have been compared to the makeover shows, Frankenstein is one of the most popular gothic horror ideals and it is a very good example. The story suggests that Frankenstein’s monster is made from the best parts of the human body blended together to make the ideal human. In one episode of 10YY when the women first sees herself she even compares herself to a monster: ‘I’m surprised I don’t have bolts 37 through my neck like Frankenstein!’.

Fig 84-86 These images show Pete Burns, Lesley Ash and Michael Jackson. Images sourced from www.google. com/images.

Fig 87 Article from Best Magazine, 27 October 2009 Issue. 42.09. p18.


Fig 88-91 Percy Hennell: Reconstructive Surgery Portraits. Sourced from Photoworks Spr/Summer 2007.



Fig. 91-94 show surgery shots that can be compared to Frankenstein. Staples are visible on my Aunt’s temples as well as bruising and stitches. Jones, M (2008) suggests another example is Jonathan Demme’s film The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Jame Gumb, the serial killer, uses different parts of skin ‘harvested’ from his victims to create a ‘true’ identity for himself. It is said by many of the contestants that they don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. All these themes are looked at in horror movies. Again Jones, M (2008) suggests Cosmetic Surgery Reality TV expresses the same cultural concerns birth, technology, bodies and identity as horror and this is one of the reasons it is so engrossing and entertaining. The link to monsters is also shown through ideas of duality. Plastic surgery is often seen as the cure to releasing your inner self. Nearly every contestant on makeover shows wants to be the new woman they feel they are on the inside. Jekyll and Hyde is another gothic horror story about a scientist wrestling with his alter ego. At the ‘reveal’ all contestants have to face the new ‘self’ which has replaced the old. To recognize a new self - is the stuff of fairy stories and horror movies. Jones, M (2008) suggests that these shows feature an end that is almost like fiction. It is a fantasy, which you can never tell whether it’s real or not. You can see most contestants are scared by the result because most people immediately cover their faces. This duality is popular because everyone at home can think about what they themselves would transform into.

Fig 92-95 Photographs taken from: 10YY Series 4, Episode 5. 2007. Maverick Productions For Channel 4. These images show Bev Hawkins straight after surgery with staples and stiches still showing.


Shows such as Extreme Makeover, Plastic Surgery: Before and After, and Dr 90210 depict female bodies as they are probed, painted, sectioned, carved with surgical instruments, and stuffed with foreign objects. Gailey, E and Heller, D in Self Made Women (2007,p107) suggest that pornography, these images are compelling not only in their claims to authenticity, but also in their appeal to the taboo and voyeuristic, to the fantasy of ‘complete access to all that is hidden’. Pornography is watched by 9 million people a year. The subject is often regarded as ‘taboo’ but hard to avoid. Makeover shows have several links to pornography; Not only do we see scenes of bodies being manhandled on the operating table, we also see nudity scenes throughout some of the programmes (Fig. 9596). Gok Wan’s How To Look Good Naked is based around the notion that women should feel sexually attractive. Not only should they feel sexy about themselves but should know how to feel confident and provocative around men. Many of the makeover programs are about creating a new woman to satisfy a man’s needs. Gailey, E and Heller, D (2007) suggests women at the end of makeover programmes are often ‘hyper-feminised’ and resemble porn stars. An obvious example is the women with porn star cleavages bonding over the success of their breast augmentation surgeries. Sex Inspectors 2004 shows this theme of pornography in a very graphical way. This show has

two experts who watch a couple using hidden cameras and then try and help improve their sex lives (Fig 97). There are scenes of the couple having intercourse and suggestions made on how to spice things up in the bedroom. Similar suggestions are often shown in Cosmopolitan magazine. Makeover television is popular to a wide audience because it helps women to feel more sexually attractive and helps them to improve their sex life. The graphic nature of cosmetic surgery makeover television programmes provides a medical interest that people enjoy. On the medical makeover shows such as Supersize vs Superskinny and You Are What You Eat, health facts are pointed out throughout the program. They are informative programs where you can learn the medical facts about makeovers. Cosmetic makeover shows involve far more detail on medical procedures. As Lyons, J (2007) suggests we have a growing fascination with medicalisation of self, society and the body. Many people watching the show use it to become informed regarding the different operations that are on offer. The shows are popular because you are able to see the real process of surgery rather than ‘before and after’ images. The gruesome healing process in ten years younger shows exactly how contestants look straight after surgery (Fig. 91-94). At the end of most shows, surgeons and practises are often recommended. Another reason that these shows are popular is that there is a link to trauma TV programmes ie. Casualty and ER. Lyons, J (2007) suggests these shows are known to give the audience a ‘rush of adrenalin’. The most explicit images of surgery broadcast were on Bleach Nip Tuck: The White Beauty Myth. The additional interest I found came from the new operations that can be performed. The first programme in the series showed a man getting a leg lengthening operation that involved the surgeon drilling through his leg bone and then breaking the leg with his arm. The violent nature of the surgery was very difficult to watch but really intriguing at the same time. Whilst watching these programs you can feel your pulse quicken as you sympathise with the patient. I think that because this part of the show is completely fact based it is more scary to watch. Knowing that this happens for real is far more shocking.

Fig 96 Photographs taken from: Gok Wan’s How To Look Good Naked For Channel 4. Series 3. 2007.

These themes allow us to see what is normally kept concealed and shows the reality of pain and discomfort the patients experience. The thrill of adrenalin we get watching a real live ER is very popular for this reason. It is general human interest that makes these shows so appealing. Fig 97 Photographs taken from: Sex Inspectors, Series 1 Episode 1. Channel 4. 2007.


Fig 98 This is a promotional photograph for Disney that shows Cinderella. Image sourced from www.google. com/images


Chapter 4 - Happily ever after The most popular aspect of makeover television is the big finish. As Watts, A and Heller D in Queen for a Day: Remaking Consumer Culture One Woman at a Time (2007, P143) suggests it is a fact that more people tune into the last 15 minutes of the program. Why does the big reveal, the fantasy and the idea of a happy ending capture an audience? The reveal itself is a culmination of the whole program. Gortom, K (2008) suggests programmes pivot around the final ‘ta dah’ moment, and as they argue, can be seen as part of the key to the success of the reality genre. On ten years younger they recap the show, repeating the things wrong with the contestant, show the ‘before’ images repeatedly before coming to the reveal. In 10YY Nicky Hamilton Jones stands by a rotating mirror and asks if the contestant is ready. The mirror is then unveiled and the audience sees the result at the same time as the contestant (Fig 99-101). Deery, J and Heller, D in Interior Design, Commodifying Self and Place (2007, p170) suggests this moment is looked on as a ‘entertaining and profitable spectacle’. In The Swan the moment of the reveal is hyped further as the contestant has not seen her reflection since the process began. As Deery, J and Heller, D (2007) suggests one of the biggest selling points of the shows is viewing access; because they are not able to see themselves is a major reason why audiences are persuaded to watch. 10YY has another aspect of the reveal. Once the contestants have been made over they are then polled by 100 people to decide if they have lost years of age. The comparison with the poll at the start of the program is completely different. Every comment is positive and made to make you smile. The age is then revealed. My aunt managed to lose 19 years off her poll age which was a first for that series! I was directly involved in my aunts ‘reveal’. My family and I had to hide on the top of an open top bus in central London and surprise her. My aunt was over joyed that she got to share her day with us. The family were then interviewed regarding her new look. The show was very entertaining as she had gone against a lot of the experts advice. She ended the show saying ‘well I’ll never be sophisticated, I might look good but that’s only until I open my mouth!’ The final shots of the show are of a new woman smiling. These shows can’t help but make you feel good. Fig 99-101 Photographs taken from: 10YY Series 3, Episode 5. 2007. Maverick Productions For Channel 4 and What Not To Wear. 2005. BBC.

Since makeover television began it has always been compared to fantasy stories. Shows that started makeover culture like Queen For A Day and Glamour Girl were seen as the ultimate ‘rag to riches’ stories. 44

In its narrative of psychic pain, physical transformation and happily-ever-after endings, Extreme Makeover offers a variation and repetition on a favourite story that’s one-part fairy tale and onepart American dream. Weber, B. R. (2005) suggests instead of Cinderella wishing for her Prince Charming and having a fairy godmother come to the rescue, we see an “average” person wishing for the beautiful/celebrity body aided in the process by a well meaning plastic surgeon. This quote looks at the similarities between Cinderella and Extreme Makeover. Many other fairy tales have the same moral messages that can be linked to makeover television. The Swan took its name from a fantasy ideal: The Ugly Duckling. As Pliagas, L (2004) suggests this however is quite hypocritical as the moral of this tale is that beauty will be gained naturally in the end and not with the help of a team of plastic surgeons, cosmetic dentists, fitness trainers, therapists, and life coaches. The quest for youth shown in programs like 10YY and Extreme Makeover can also be compared with Peter Pan (Fig 102) and his quest to stay young forever. More extreme makeover shows such as Bleach Nip Tuck: The White Beauty Myth can be related to the story of the Little Mermaid (Fig 103) trying to become a different race to become happy. But why are fantasy stories so popular. If makeover television is today’s version of a fairytale then why is there such a demand for it? These shows allow us to believe that anything is possible and anyone has the chance to be part of the show. Fairy tales aren’t just for children. Associated Content (2009) suggests adults need them too. I feel that one of the reasons the fantasy theme in makeover television is popular is that it takes us back to our childhood love of fairytales. As a child anything is possible. We grew up with fairy stories and the idea that anyone can live happily ever after. The reasons children love these stories is not so different from why we like makeover programmes. As Associated Content (2009) suggests that it makes us feel that we can conquer anything, work hard and we can leave our own small problems behind. It allows us to discover another world for a period of time. Watts, A and Heller, D in Queen For a Day: Remaking Consumer Culture One Woman at a Time (2007) agrees there is an importance of fantasy within these shows. Makeover shows are human fairy tales, they can give us hope for the future. We often find that the idea of fantasy is missing in our lives so its nice to indulge in what could be. So fairy tales have a way of lifting sadness and moving our thinking to positive ideas rather than negative ones. Associated Content (2009) suggests fairy tales that become real make us remember our childhood, the surprises and joy we felt when we learned that a character lived happily ever after. Many makeover shows go back and revisit contestants a year later. This links to the popularity of the ‘happily ever after’ concept. The only people revisited are the successful cases in which the person has radically changed their lives. One of the most popular episodes of 10YY was Episode 9 Series 4. It showed Simon Dehany (Fig 104) being completely transformed. As one of the only men to take on the challenge it was different from the usual set up, but when they revisited him the changes in his life were huge. He had not only become divorced from his previous wife but had started a new career in a trendy fashion shop. Revisits are popular with the public as again it lets you see what is normally unavailable. Most contestants lives ‘end’ with the show and we don’t know if they do really find a ‘happily ever after’ ending. Being able to see how it has changed their lives just adds to the dream of it happening to the audience at home. The series winner of the Swan went on to become a celebrity presenter (Fig 105). 45

Fig 102-103 Images of Disney’s Peter Pan and Little Mermaid. Images sourced from www.google.com/images.

Fig 104 Images of Simon Dehaney Before and After. Images sourced from www.thesun.co.uk

The most moving revisit that I have watched is an episode of Gok Wan’s How To Look Good Naked, Episode 15, Series 3, showing a breast cancer sufferer, Kelly trying to find her confidence after having one of her breasts removed (Fig 106). At the end of the programme it showed Gok going back to interview her a year after the show. She talked about how the show had allowed her to get over the cancer and start to help others. She even admitted to ‘If I could go back and change it I would still have cancer as it has enabled me to help others’. This created such a warming story; audiences couldn’t help but feel motivated by her story. She really did get her ‘happily ever after.’ The final sequences of makeover shows have to end happily. Most of the attraction of the program is the end of the show and seeing the transformation. We like the ‘feel good’ factor. The smiles, positive comments and soft flattering lighting all add to the resolution at the end of the programme. We also witness a personality change, the now beautiful contestant feels like a changed woman and she is expected to act like a new woman. Cassidy, M and Heller, D in The Cinderella Makeover (2007, p136) suggests the girl is changed not only in appearance but also in her outlook on life. We see her poised, secure and smiling. This creation of a new personality has great human interest appeal. We all want to see the ‘happily ever after’. Whether this happens or not in real life the show leaves it open ended apart from in the revisited cases. The show leads you to believe anything is possible. As in many of the Disney versions of fairy tales many of them have been ‘sweetened’ towards the end. Happily ever after ignores the reality that begins after the story ends and daily life begins. Associated Content (2009) suggests this may be the case but it doesn’t make good television. Fig 105 This is Rachel Love-Fraser the winner of The Swan. The image was sourced from www.people.com/image archive.

As Associated Content (2007) suggests we all remember from our youth the delight we would experience listening to all the stories that ended with “and they lived happily ever after.”. The main draw of makeover programs is its never too late to live your happily ever after. As long as you are still willing to try and change your life there is still the possibility for your dreams to come true. These shows enforce a belief in this as it is real and has happened to normal people. In our society there is always a way to change, the American dream is that there is always time to better yourself as everyone is equal. Makeover shows such as 10YY and How To Look Good Naked all succeed in making you feel good at the end of the show. They leave you feeling that you ‘personally’ supported the contestant from the beginning and they got what they deserved in the end.

Fig 106 Image of Kelly seeing herself for the first time at her reveal. Clip taken from Episode 15, Series 3, How to Look Good Naked, Channel 4. 2008.


Fig 107. Photograph taken during the filming of 10 Years Younger. Image taken by myself, Hannah Springett on 26/10/2006.


Conclusion Makeover programmes have a huge viewing audience. I feel that the most significant reason that makeover shows are so popular is that they combine many tried and tested elements of so many other genres of television. Game shows, soap operas, talent shows, medical dramas, horror films, fairytales and even pornography can now be linked the makeover show. Bringing elements from all these different genres can successfully appeal to a wider and more diverse audience. Humiliation and sob stories from contestants have now become an increasingly popular part of television. Most famously used on shows like X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, we see countless people willing to do anything for the public vote. The nation become engaged in the sob stories of the contestants; a selected few will then have the opportunity to proceed to the final transformation. We at home then judge these contestants and are amused by their downfall. We also become emotionally attached to these people, who struggle to reach their dream. We want to follow their progress. For both these reasons makeover shows attract viewers. Being told how to conform to the media ideal is one of the most obvious reasons why makeover television is so popular. The media that has become an integral part of our day to day lives suggests a way we should look, a way we should live and what items we should buy in order to live a happy life. Makeover television indulges in all of these ‘projected’ attitudes and shows viewers how to achieve this ideal. Makeover programmes supply this advice and examples of how to do it. Celebrity experts using their personal endorsement of products and services has become a winning formula.


Fig 108 Photograph taken during the filming of 10 Years Younger. Image taken by myself, Hannah Springett on 26/10/2006.


A very popular aspect of makover programmes is the medical aspects and links to the horror genre. Freakshows have always been a source of entertainment throughout history and today this hasn’t changed. We are still fascinated in people that look different. Close up shots during operations gratifies our voyeuristic desires to see what really happens behind closed doors. Tracking the after affects of surgery and recovery process has become a key element to surgical makeover shows. Viewers are now given comprehensive advice on these procedures and bring the audience one step closer to having surgery themselves. Makeover programmes allow us to indulge in childlike fantasies ultimately living ‘Happily ever after’. We are encouraged to imagine ourselves in the contestants position, asking ourselves ‘what would I change?’. We begin to think that anything and everything is possible. The powerful use of ‘the reveal’ at the end of the show is the most popular part of the programme. These upbeat happy endings allow audiences to experience ‘feel good factor’. The way makeover television has diversified from original formats such as Queen for a Day is still set to continue ensuring its popularity. With audiences that are increasingly harder to entertain, programme producers will be under pressure to find new and more shocking content. Audiences will no longer be satisfied with a simple kitchen transformation. Sex Inspectors; Bleach, Nip Tuck: The White Beauty Myth and I Want a Famous Face and all hugely controversial makeover programs will soon become the norm. In a world that is obsessed with the way we look, what lengths will television go to imprint these ideals on the viewing public? I find makeover programmes a hugely interesting genre of television. My personal involvement on Ten Years Younger has given me a real insight into many of these key themes. My unique experiences have allowed me to see both sides of the programme, from the television perspective to the impacts that it had on a close family member. Makeover programmes are hugely popular because its appears unobtainable dreams really can come true and the illusion is created that you can live happily ever after.


Fig 109 Photograph taken during the filming of 10 Years Younger. Image taken by myself, Hannah Springett on 26/10/2006.


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Fig 110 Photograph taken during the filming of 10 Years Younger. Image taken by myself, Hannah Springett on 26/10/2006.


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Gilman, S.L. (2008) Making the body beautiful a cultural history of aesthetic surgery. Princeton University Press.

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