In the Name of Entertainment: Makeover TV

How to Look Good NakedReality Television is associated with different factors such as unprofessional actors, unscripted dialogue for the realistic effect, however in Snog Marry Avoid? Elements of the programme are staged in which the contestants are humiliated for their appearance, e.g. People talking behind their back as they walk past is often featured. The participants also appear to come off as quite dumb in order to add to the humiliation they are about to face. How to Look Good Naked also uses staged elements. E.G Gok Wan often destroys the participants clothing if it is ‘unflattering’ again this detracts away from realism as it wouldn’t happen if the cameras weren’t filming as well as the organisation of the catwalk in shopping centres where participants showcase their new transformation and are asked to appear naked at the end of the catwalk.

The success of makeover reality television shows are due to the increasing concerns of health and body image, in order to adhere to a certain set of standards set by society women are subjected to what Laura Mulvey calls the male gaze which, it can also be linked to ideology. Ideology can be defined as “a systematic framework of social understanding motivated by a will to power or a desire to be accepted as the ‘right’ way of thinking”(Lacey, 2009, p.100)The underlying systems of ideology within the media makes consumers feel that striving for the ‘perfect’ image is acceptable behaviour and that body image is extremely important.

Cosmo MagazineMagazine images of slim models and celebrity inspiration is constantly in the limelight which makes media consumers feel that they should look that way as it is the only body image being perceived, if celebrities put on weight or are photographed without makeup on then they are instantly criticised for having an unpolished appearance, this reflects on females in society as they are portrayed as being abnormal or unattractive if they have a curvy frame and skin that isn’t flawless.

In How to Look Good Naked, the female participants are unhappy with their looks and it is hyper-emphasized with close up camera shots on the body parts which they find ‘unconventional’, e.g. stomachs and thighs are frequently the parts which females tend to dislike about their selves. “Knowing that she is to be subjected to the cold appraisal of the male connoisseur and that her life prospects may depend on how she is seen, a woman learns to appraise herself first.” (Bartky, 1990, 38) In both Snog Marry Avoid? And How to Look Good Naked the reasons for the contestants wanting the makeovers are often more deep rooted than simply wanting to feel good about their selves, it is also influenced by how they feel they should look. Quite often the contestants lack confidence in their bodies and feel that they need to change in order to attract a partner or what is more relevant for How to Look Good Naked is the desire to feel more feminine after having children, having had their body shape change prior to and after giving birth the female lacks confidence in herself, as Bartky illustrates the female must learn to love her body first and maintain it in societal standards in order for it to be appealing to the opposite sex and even in the instance that elements of her life may depend on her appearance which could be career related.

Ok MagazineAlthough the purpose of makeover programmes is to change the lifestyle of participants it attracts it’s audiences by adding in entertainment aspects at the costs of humiliating those who have taken part in the programme. According to Dovey (2000) lifestyle television is “filled by voices proclaiming and celebrating their own “freakiness”, articulating their most intimate fears and secrets” (Biressi and Nunn, 2005, p.96) In How to Look Naked participants prior to their makeovers have an image of their body projected onto a large building in a public place, wearing only unflattering lingerie as strangers are exhibited to their humiliation.

Barbie Twins In Snog, Marry, Avoid? Before their appearance is changed the participants have over eccentric looks, little clothing and large amounts of make up on, they are quite often ‘bullied’ over their appearances by what members of the public have to say about them, another reason why they want the makeover is to feel confident in their selves after being subjected to bullying in the past which is what makes them cover their selves in makeup and fake tan as a sort of persona in order to hide their true identity.

Conboy et al (1997) argues that the body is constantly in the process of change, without the changes linking to societal requirements the female form will always be considered grotesque or undesirable, this links into makeover programmes such as How to Look Good Naked and Snog Marry Avoid? As stated previously females feel they should change the way they look in order to fit the standards rather than to accept the way they already look, this is a reflection of body image and vanity in contemporary culture due to the increasing pressure to look perfect.

Freak Show PosterMetaphorically the lifestyle programme is like watching a freak show, the female is exhibited in front of an audience who can laugh at her expense because of her unconventional appearance.

In conclusion reality television is constantly using entertainment factors in order to make their shows more appealing to consumers, although it takes away the realism with its use of staged scenes it still makes lifestyle shows such as How to Look Good Naked and Snog Marry Avoid? Successful. The freak show format allows audience to laugh at the expense of others and feel better about their selves which allows the programmes to legitimise the female body in the name of entertainment, if the body doesn’t fit societal standards showcased by the media then it isn’t acceptable so why not laugh at it? This is what the makeover programme offers, the humiliation and entertainment of others whilst they try to fit the norm and adhere to what they think they should look like. It’s the shocking dress and makeup choices that participants in Snog Marry Avoid? Wear that makes the show more appealing, they essentially humiliate their selves on a daily basis with the poor choices of thick layers of tan and little clothing so adding it into the reality format makes the show more entertaining and acceptable to laugh at others as it isn’t something that you could do in real life. It essentially showcases the female body for bullying/humiliation if it isn’t perfect and calls it entertainment.


Biressi, A. and Nunn, H. (2005) Reality TV: Realism and Revelation. London: Wallflower Press.

Conboy, K, Medina, N and Stanbury, S. (ed.) (1997) Writing on the Body: Female Embodiment and Feminist Theory. New York:Columbia University Press.

Lacey, N (2009). Image and Representation: Key Concepts in Media Studies. 2nd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mulvey, L. (2009) Visual and other pleasures. 2nd ed. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.


*images from Google

50K:The Cost Of Looking Young

Tara BladonTara Bladon a 46 year old mum of three has spent a grand total of £54,400 just to look as youthful as her 15 year old daughter Lucy, money well spent or a deluded mind?

In order to maintain her looks Tara has a gruelling regime consisting of a 5am start, in this time she will shower for 1 hour using expensive exfoliators and creams from Clinique, she will then spend 2 hours doing her hair and make up, this routine occurs every day even if the mom isn’t leaving the house, is this really necessary? According to Tara she does this so people cant guess her real age or encase she looks old. Even the postman gets greeted to a well groomed Tara, in my experience the postman will just hand over the post or parcels without looking at me long enough to even care about my age….

How the money was spent:

  • Boob Job-£4,000
  • Anti-Ageing Skin Care Products-£7,200
  • Make Up-£4,320
  • Clothing-£21,600
  • Hair Products-£11,520
  • Nails & Fake Tan-£5,760

“My mom is 70 and she looks great for her age, so I hope that means Lucy and I have good genes” at this stage im not sure you can tell if its down to good genes or just the overload of beauty products.  Granted Tara does look great but it cant be good to have such a time consuming routine, if she overslept or had to go a day without make up then how would this affect her self esteem?

All the household bills and the mortgage are left down to her husband to pay, he must be very understanding if he doesn’t feel that this is unfair on himself.

So what do you think?…..

Has Tara spent far too much on vanity?

Personally it is up to her whether or not she feels she can one day let go of this routine, I just hope that her daughter doesn’t follow in the same footsteps and feel she has to look youthful as well instead of growing old gracefully.  I myself wouldn’t even dream of spending so much money on each of those items, let alone getting into debt for a boob job.

*images from Google

Sexualised Dolls: My Little Pony

Once an innocent past time to a now sexualised toy, the transformation of My Little Pony has now reached new levels, Equestria Girls is a humanised version of the ponies, the girls are symbolised by their trademark ponytails and colourful skin but each girl has something in common, they’re all slim with short clothing on, like any of doll on the market it is providing an unnatural body image to children and the short dresses can be seen as far too sexy and inappropriate for children.

Original My Little PonyThe original My Little Pony as pictured above is long overshadowed by the new design, although the original isn’t as colourful it keeps its design simple and allows children to enjoy the simplicity of it rather than the new slim versions which have much more make up on and are slimmer.  Why have Hasbro only just decided now to humanise the ponies? It will no longer be a niche product compared to all the other dolls currently on the market such as Monster High which like the Equestrian Girl Character above has a character called Frankie Stein which also has the blue skin colour.

Frankie SteinIn a society where there is a high pressure to have the ‘perfect’ body image it doesn’t seem right for little girls who love to play with their dolls to be subjected to ones with a sexualised appearance, near enough all the dolls on the market have a similar body, always slim, make up and short clothing, it isn’t going to give off a good impression to young minds who could think that being slim and perfect is the right way to be. Could it possibly lead to subjecting choices down to beauty, If a girl starts off by wanting the prettiest doll and rejecting one because it isn’t good enough could it lead to future choices with their friendships? It could be possible that they pick their friends based on looks alone and not whether or not they are nice people to be around.

jade j'adoreWhilst researching the dolls market on the Toysrus site I came across the above doll known as Jade J’Adore from the Bratz dolls range known as Bratzillas. It states  “Jade J’Adore loves everything about love and has the power to heal a broken heart!” personally I find this doll looks far too provocative with the way it is posing, Bratz dolls are recommended for ages 8 and older, it seems odd to me that an 8 year old would know much about love and broken hearts.

If all future dolls are made to look like Jade J’Adore then I worry about the minds of those who have to grow up with them, they wont know that body image is fine in any size, they’ll just assume that you have to be stick thin to be beautiful and wear lots of make up.  I feel that the environment you grown up in contributes to the way you feel and act about certain subjects so an environment filled with pretty dolls is only going to put emphasis on vanity and body image, children should be carefree and confident, when they are older if they don’t have the perfect body or make up they could feel self conscious and the need to achieve the unrealistic vision of beauty, if they grow up with unrealistic role models and toys representing an unrealistic image then they could wonder why they aren’t so slim or why they didn’t grow up to look so perfect.barbieIm not sure as to whether or not Barbie is still as popular as she used to be but her appearance doesn’t seem as sexualised as the other dolls included in this blog post, sure she still have her perfect blonde hair and make up but her outfits are much more appropriate and don’t sexualise her body. I quite liked that with the Spa Barbie play set she has a facemask included as it has a sense of achieving her beauty rather than just having it.

Spa BarbieIt cant be predicted what future dolls will have but it is most likely that they will remain to be manufactured with the slim body, short skirts and dresses and overly done make up. Would it be so wrong for a doll to feature a curvier body or natural beauty with no make up? Introducing dolls with all sorts of body shapes, ethnicity, and sizes could cause a new shift in the body image stakes and lead a childs future to believe that they don’t have to be stick thin like dolls and models and they can be comfortable in their own skin.

*images from Google

Beauty Perception: Global Cosmetic Trends

Beauty on a whole cannot be avoided, different cultures and countries have an idealistic vision of what is deemed as beautiful and perfect. Some countries are offering surgery which is taking body image to a whole new level, what would be the extent of your beauty regime?

Bizarre Beauty

Believe it or not in China a sign of success can be shown by your height, the average height of females is 5ft, 2ins but what does that have to do with beauty? Well locals are putting their selves through surgery to lengthen their height, a painful measure to be perceived as successful.

Leg surgeryThe process involves the individuals legs being broken and then stretched on a rack, it involves pins being screwed into the flesh and being held into place until the desired length is achieved. Is something that sounds so painful and looks it really worth the trouble, what would happen if a trend was put into place where being small was beautiful?

If you thought that was bad in South Korea a procedure can be undertook for your jaw to be reshaped, again this involves the bones being broken and in some cases the bone can be shaven, a dangerous trend that is populating around South Korea so women can have more petite and feminine looking faces.  

In Japan nose implants in the form of dermal fillers are being placed in those that want to achieve a larger looking nose, now I’ve heard of nose reductions but making them larger seems strange to me, the dermal fillers can also be placed in the chin.

skin-whitening-cream-2In Thailand if you have light skin then you are considered to be rich as you haven’t been working in the sun all day, because of this status an increase of skin lightening cream has increased in sales. “A survey carried out by the British Skin Foundation found that 16% of
dermatologists believe lightening creams are ‘completely unsafe’ and 80% feel
they are only safe when prescribed by a dermatologist”

buttock_implant_placementsThe Large Bum Trend

Bum Implants aren’t out of the ordinary, curvier women are considered sexier in some cultures, famously known as ‘The Brazilian Butt lift’ it is becoming more popular in the UK, another dangerous surgery as reported it can kill you if not done correctly, previous stories have included the implants leaking which has gotten into the bloodstream and caused heart failure.

Stranger methods are in order in Jamaica, in a society where having a curvy body and larger bum is essential women are being driven to achieve the look by consuming “chicken” pills, this is usually something a farmer gives to their chickens in order for them to gain weight, should it really be for human consumption? However in India women are taking steroid pills in order to get larger, surely steroids is a bad idea and are harmful to the body and not worth the risk.


Whilst cosmetic surgery isn’t out of the ordinary anymore and is increasingly becoming more common, there are in fact 27,730 plastic surgeons are operating around the world, the perception of beauty isn’t reliable and can change quicker than expected so is putting your health at risk to fit the norm really worth it? Cosmetic surgery may seem like a quick fix but can hazard all sorts of risks especially if a reputable surgeon hasn’t done the procedure. People all over the world should enjoy their bodies and embrace what they have, why should it matter if you aren’t as tall as you want to be? So what if you don’t have a large bum it shouldn’t matter what we look like so long as we are confident in our own skin.

*images from Google

Toddlers & Tiaras

Toddlers and Tiaras is a programme following the lives of young children who compete in beauty pageants across America. Along the way tantrums are brewed as well as the child’s need to win and to be the best, its more so about winning than having fun.

It seems it is unacceptable to be a runner up and the stakes are high when each girl is subjected to a makeover that makes them appear to be a replica of Barbie.

One little girl Kayla who is 3 years said that the other girls were ugly and another girl Desiree who was 10 years old had ordered ‘flippers’ which was a false set of teeth similar to dentures because her teeth were slightly crooked, she also made to put in contact lenses which she didn’t seem happy with, it just proves that every part of you has to be manipulated in order to look perfect.pageant+girlBeauty pageants for children are quite controversial, some see it as harmless fun and others see it as children being sexualised and forced to grow up too fast in a vanity culture. Personally I find it strange to see a child covered in fake tan, make up and with false nails as it appears to take away their innocence but as these pageants aren’t common in the UK this could be why.  Im not sure young girls should be showing off swimwear and wiggling their hips so maybe the age group should be capped for that or just left to the adult pageants maybe as it does appear to sexualise them especially when theyare pulling poses and blowing kisses.

It would be much better if it wasn’t such a strong competition with pressure added to the girls and more so as a fun competition to be apart of, when a child starts getting upset and not wanting to do something they aren’t comfortable with e.g. having false lashes put on, then it should be time to reconsider that decision.

“Tori Hensley from Lampasas County, Texas, was  seen combining Mountain Dew, Sweet Tea  and Pixie Stix and administering it to her daughter Alexa in a sippy cup.  ‘I want cup,’ the youngster  demanded. Mrs Hensley also explained that her toddler  starts out every morning with a large cup of coffee topped with powdered cream,  which has been a daily ritual since she  was just nine months old.”

It’s taking it too far when a child is given caffeine at such an early age especially when it could potentially cause diabetes when the child is older and lead to a caffeine addiction, it should be a high priority to look after children’s teeth until they are old enough to care for them theirselves, the high amount of sugar will be leading to problems early on.

pixie stix

*images from Google

Distorted Body Representations In The Media

Ideology is a media concept that individuals don’t even realise is taking place in everyday life, it is a concept that isn’t going to completely disappear due to the daily heavy consumption of media.  The definition of ideology varies between different theorists but the definition which I find more simplistic is with ideology being defined as “a systematic framework of social understanding motivated by a will to power or a desire to be accepted as the ‘right’ way of thinking” (Lacey, 2009, p.100) With the above message from Kate Moss it is no surprise that the ‘right’ way of thinking is starving yourself.

Ideology can be applied to the current issue of body image as it is a major factor of representation within the media, consumers of mass media are exposed daily to advertisements using slim models or images of celebrities with the ‘perfect’ body, the images and the underlying messages represent the super skinny body images as being perfect. It is also a false representation as a lot of the time airbrushing is put into place especially in magazine photo-shoots.

The above image of Britney Spears is an example of how this false representation is used to sway us, it is somehow socially unacceptable to present her true self to the world so fans that try to emulate her figure are striving for the impossible.

Small changes have even been made to this photo of Megan Fox, personally I don’t see why the changes have been made, but its another example of manufactured Hollywood.

Another bad representation of women is being spread through the media as young teenagers are striving for an unnatural thigh gap which of course first spiralled from the media.Social media is being used by teenagers regularly to share ‘thinspiration’ images and to inspire other young women to strive for the thigh gap look; I found many of these images on the popular image sharing app Instagram, users can easily upload images onto this app using hash tags such as #thinspiration, #thighgap and other eating disorder keywords and girls can easily view these images to be encouraged and motivated to starve themselves too so that they have this popular thigh gap, a wide range of the images will be users showing their frail bodies, the body which they wish to have or words of encouragement such as ‘eating won’t make you thin.’ Not enough is being done on social media to prevent this.

The hypodermic needle theory can be linked to this current behaviour as “This theory equates the influence of media with the effect of an intravenous injection: certain values, ideas, and attitudes are injected into the individual media user, resulting in a particular behaviour” (Fourie, 2007, P.294)The current values within the media is that young women should have a thigh gap as it is perfectly normal and is a step closer to the perfect body, women are sharing the images of ‘inspiration’ as it doesn’t seem like there is anything wrong with doing so when it is spiralling out of control and resulting in young women suffering from eating disorders.

The underlying systems of ideology make media consumers feel that striving for the deemed perfect image is the right way of thinking as it is the only body image being perceived within the media currently, celebrities are slated if they gain weight or are curvy so this is shown as an incredibly negative body image to have which is why young woman are striving for the perfect size zero body.Marxist critical theory would define thinspiration as a false reality created by a distorted vision with individuals unaware of the underlying ideological system.

The Frankfurt School links pseudo-individualization to the construction of an artist’s style, through their distinct image and identity. (Hodkinson, 2011, p.109-110) This is a relevant observation as a celebrity is famed by their image and must maintain it within the public eye and young women/teenagers often take into account a celebrity role model and are influenced by them.  Currently model Cara Delevingne is the role model that teenagers are following, she is a catwalk model that a slender frame and thigh gap and teenagers are trying to emulate her, it because of her distinct slim image that she is currently in the media eye, and if her image changed then teenagers would find a new role model to emulate.

According to the Daily Mail it was said over Twitter that in order to get this slim look users would deny themselves food as they are that desperate to copy the model.  The chief executive of the eating disorder charity B-Eat had this to say “Hardly anyone has a thigh gap without being underweight or not yet fully adult” the message is quite shocking but it is being ignored due to the new vanity inspired culture, ideology will never completely disappear but the message would change if the trend was to change, if a healthy body image was promoted then individuals would strive for that.  With the increase in mass culture being accessible through social media with the message of size zero being the perfect body image then individuals will always be exposed to this negative message, they will always believe with the use of ideology that it is the right way of thinking and until the message changes then the distorted vision will stay in place.

With her curvaceous body Kelly Brook doesn’t have a thigh gap yet she is still considered stunning which shows that you don’t have to be stick thin to be beautiful, she feels comfortable enough in her body so why shouldn’t everybody else? Personally I find her curvy body more appealing than Cara Delevingne’s and think more girls should reconsider striving for an unnatural thigh gap and just feel comfortable in their own skin.

*images sourced from Google


Hodkinson.P (2011). Media, Culture And Society an introduction. London: Sage. 109-110.

Fourie, J, P (2007). Media Studies Volume 1: Institutions, Theories and Issues. 5th ed. South Africa: Juta Education. 294.

Lacey, N (2009). Image and Representation. 2nd ed. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmilliam. 100.

Representations: Body Image In The Media

Britney SpearsRepresentations are often described as being imitations or having a resemblance to a certain idea or image, however in relation to representation within the media “It emphasises that, however realistic or compelling some media images seem, they never simply present the world direct” (Branston & Stafford, 2010) This shows that a media representation is often ‘re-constructed’ when being presented rather than being an exact mirroring from the original source, e.g. a photograph isn’t directly presenting the original image in which the photographer will see, in the case of a magazine photo-shoot the image will have been edited till it is deemed as perfect, be this by changing the appearance of the model with touch-ups or by simply changing the background so the viewer won’t be given an exact image of what the original source looked like, depending on the subject in the photograph it could also be interpreted differently by the audience. If magazine images are so heavily touched up then how can it be possible to actually gain that perfect body image, not many viewers will take into account this and will still strive to gain the false body image.

Another example of re-constructed media is newspapers editors, they will be publishing information that they have received so they will be re-presenting the information in articles from the original source in order for the audience to receive the intended articles. These shape our cultural values as often enough impressionable readers that see models photographed will want to imitate their image and maybe even follow their diet routines as they believe they will gain that perfect body, but due to the false representations of photo editing then our culture is shaped by chasing the impossible ‘perfect’ image dream.Katie PriceThe use of representation determines what the audience finds to be ‘normal’ so this can be linked to ideology “a systematic framework of social understanding motivated by a will to power or a desire to be accepted as the ‘right’ way of thinking” (Lacey, 2009) In terms of media it is now common for our culture to be highly influenced by vanity and the idea of having the ‘perfect’ body, this is because there is high pressure within the media to look a certain way, whether it is supermodel skinny or the stereotypical image of a male fantasy woman inspired by ‘Lads magazines’, these woman are usually blonde, large breasted with small waists. It very common amongst young adults and teenagers to want to change the way that they look to fit this norm as they are highly influenced by the media in which they consume, magazines, advertisements and social media, an example of this outcome is ‘I want to change my body’ which was a documentary aired on BBC Three in November 2012, which showed exactly that, many of the young adults on the show felt that they had to change their image in order to be ‘normal’ and socially acceptable, one girl in particular wished to have a boob job just because she felt inadequate due to the impressionable media of ‘bigger is better.’ This is often down to influences by models such as Katie Price who is regularly in the media for changing her body, as her presence dominants the media through modelling, journalism and television programmes, she has gained quite a large female fan base so often fans will want to be like her. Although she is perceived as being quite dominant and headstrong she is clearly insecure with her appearance as she is always changing it.

An article on The Daily Beast shows that according to a study on plastic surgery it was found that “79 percent of the 42 patients examined said that television/media influenced their decision to pursue a cosmetic-surgery procedure.“ Again this high percentage supports how impressionable media consumers are, as they cannot avoid daily media it is affecting the way that they perceive their selves, If it wasn’t for vanity being deemed important within the media then plastic surgery wouldn’t be quite as common or as popular as it is today, however it has helped to shape cultural values by making individuals feel the need to fit in.

Stereotyping is another form of representation which can shape our cultural values, “stereotypes work by taking some easily grasped features presumed to belong to a group” (Branston & Stafford, 2010) An example of this is by the use of stereotyping all youths as ‘hoodies’ which is often linked to crime related activities which is represented in the news, not all teenagers and young adults will even consider crime but because of this stereotype if they are seen wearing a hoody whilst shopping then they will automatically look suspicious. Stereotyping can be broken down into different groups, age, gender, race and religion. As stated above the ‘hoody’ stereotype is aimed at younger adults and teenagers and shapes our culture by discriminating against this target group by giving the assumption that this generation is full of criminals. Gender stereotypes primarily state that the male is more dominate to the female and that her place is in the home rather than being independent and hardworking, this representation is shown in the media through the use of advertisements such as Fairy Liquid where it is always a female shown doing the washing up rather than a male, it is also shown in other cleaning adverts, although culture has changed and women are now independent and work rather than staying in the home this stereotype will most likely remain meaning that women will remain discriminated against for being the less dominant gender. Another gender stereotype includes ‘dumb blondes’ often within television programmes a blonde character will keep the ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype because it is so well perceived, although intelligence isn’t based on your hair colour this stereotype is still used quite frequently. As media consumers are often consumed by what they see in the media then the stereotypes could turn into discrimination in everyday life which could lead to problems created in the society such as bullying, cyber-bullying, discrimination, racism, sexism etc.