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TV show promotes negative body ideals

Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:09

When it comes to reality television, TLC dominates the playing field. It seems that they can take any aspect of someone’s personal life and make him or her famous with it — I’m looking at you, Honey Boo Boo. “Plastic Wives,” the channel’s controversial new program revolving around four women and their extensive body modifications, has gone too far.

Reality television has always been notorious for passing off melodramatic antics, quirky personalities or lifestyles and confrontational situations as normalcy. This sort of mindless entertainment may be entertaining, but it also presents a horrible false image of what life is like to its audience. The rising popularity of reality television among teenagers influences their perception of what people in the “real world” act like.

“For some women, aging gracefully isn’t an option,” TLC said of its new creation on its website.

Enter “Plastic Wives.” The show is about the wives (and ex-wife) of four of Los Angeles’s most reputable plastic surgeons, who offer them all of their services, with no appointment or payment necessary. The women constantly alter their bodies to obtain the “ideal” appearance and boast having multiple breast implants, liposuctions, Botox shots and “reconstruction” of various features done. Frances Marques, ex-wife of Dr. Ryan Stanton, even shows off a piece of her removed labia from her vaginal rejuvenation surgery on the show.

The show takes things to a whole new and frankly disturbing level of too-much-information, even for reality television. It even goes so far as to bring viewers under the knife with the women as they get the surgery done, whether it is in the operating room, their homes or even at parties.

 The women admit in an interview with ABC news that they have made plastic surgery a routine part of their lives, talking about it in casual conversation and building their friendships around it.

“If we don’t like [the plastic surgeon], we don’t hang out with their wife,” said Alana Sand.

It even dictated Dayna Devon’s career.

“Marrying a plastic surgeon was the smartest thing I ever did,” states the former E! News anchor, “Unfortunately you hit 40, [if] you want to continue working in TV, there’s some things you’ve got to think about.”

 The most annoying thing in the show is not even the women – it’s their husbands, who use their wives as living, breathing billboards for their work and expect them to look completely flawless. One husband, Dr. David Matlock, told viewers, “I want Veronica to have the perfect body, the perfect face. I expect perfection.” The women are somehow alright with this, though.

What a good example for young female viewers.

Young female viewers who already feel the crushing pressure to be perfect. Many young girls express that the media and society’s depictions of women make them feel inadequate. They’re too fat or they’re too skinny. They’re straight hair is too limp and their curly hair is too big. They wear too much makeup or not enough. It seems like they can never be enough and “Plastic Wives,” enforces the impossible standards of beauty when it shows cosmetically “perfected” women who still jump at every opportunity for a new correction.

I find it infuriating and insulting to not just my intelligence, but the intelligence of every TLC viewer that the channel thinks glamorizing the lives of living Barbie dolls is suitable entertainment. The channel’s shows ”What Not to Wear” and  “Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss” are all about promoting body confidence and self-love, no matter what size or shape you are.

These shows have women with all different body types on them and rather than telling them that they need to change, show them how to dress their bodies and emphasize the parts of them that they love. Then TLC turns around and creates a program about the frivolous vanity of women who are so uncomfortable with their natural bodies that they feel the need to nip and tuck every inch of them. I’m getting some mixed signals. I understand that they can do what they please with their bodies, but is this the message that TLC wants to send, that women are supposed to be immaculate in order to keep their jobs, husbands, and social lives?

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