Tuesday 23rd May 2017,
Televisual

Reality Check: The Plastics

Reality Check: The Plastics

This week I want to talk about a favorite American pastime that is an unusually recurrent theme in reality television.

Plastic surgery!!! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

On the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Kim Richards decides it’s time to get something done on her face. She’s just not sure what yet. But her doctor says no to everything except a nose job. So that’s what she is going with!

On Shahs of Sunset (2:9, “Hard for me to Say I’m Sorry”) Gigi and Lilly talk plastic surgery and become educated in ‘gum whitening’ procedures.

My favorite part is that Lilly has mostly decided that, despite Gigi’s repetitive violent tantrums and generally abhorrent behavior, that she likes Gigi because she is “pretty and skinny.”

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Lilly claims that “the key to cosmetic work .. is moderation.” But it seems difficult for many to stop after getting a few procedures done. Ahem.

By the way, there is a new show– TLC’s Plastic Wives, about the wives of plastic surgeons. Apparently you can tell just how good a plastic surgeon is by looking at his lady, his own personal, ongoing work of art.

Though we like to think of reality television as exploiting the extremes of society for our own voyeuristic pleasures, plastic surgery is of course very common nowadays. And in fact, more or less true to reality TV representations, Beverly Hills is the top city in the U.S. for plastic surgery.

And as we see with much plastic surgery nowadays, it’s really not about looking natural for many people, but for having the most unique extremity or feature possible. Often, the smallest or biggest that something can be, the more appealing it is to people. The standards for spectacles have been raised such that some want their appearance to be hyperbolic.

Here’s a favorite of mine from MTV’s I Have A Hot Mom. Tori is a teenager who has to deal with her mom Lacey’s racy styles of dress–and her larger than life chest.

Plastic surgery, in all of its forms, is indeed a fact of contemporary life.

But just because it’s common, does not mean that it is not dangerous or unhealthy at times.

Gluteal injections are becoming more and more popular in America. And there are documented cases of many being performed under the table, by people with no proper medical credentials, who have been found to use tire sealant and concrete in lieu of medical grade silicone. There have recently been several cases of fatalities in America as the result of such procedures, such as this one.

Is it part of a liberal, individualistic first-world society that makes us hell-bent on shaping ourselves into the most attractive brand we can be? Is it the result of overly restrictive standards of beauty? Is it as simple as being competitive with other members of our species and finding the best possible mates?

Regardless of the reasons, we’re addled by plastic surgery.

To end on a lighter note, we are reminded of the importance of well-hydrated heels. On the Real Housewives of Atlanta, we see that Porsha and Kenya decide to argue in a restaurant. Finding the classiest way possible of bidding adieu, Porsha attempts to make Kenya painfully aware of her “ashy feet.”

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All cosmetics, surgical or otherwise, can get you called out on Real Housewives.

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About The Author

Heidi Khaled has a PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Heidi currently resides in Seattle, researching and writing in the areas of fashion, music, politics, social media, and consumer culture.

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