Have you ever seen the TV show The Swan? Last week I watched it for the first time. And, truthfully, I found it to be one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen on television. It was of those reality shows that starred two young women who, let’s just say, weren’t exactly super models. The “goal” was to turn these women into dolled-up, slender sex objects. I hate to put it that way, but that was the obvious goal. In order to accomplish this magic, the girls had to endure liposuctions, implants, major facial reconstruction surgery, dental work, intense weight loss training and other therapies. It wasn’t simply about – “Hey, let’s try some mascara on you and try highlighting your hair.” It was about – “Hey, you have an ugly face and body, let’s see how we can surgically alter you so that the world thinks you’re beautiful and accepts you.”
One major crux of the show was that the girls couldn’t look in the mirror for three months while undergoing their treatments. At the end of the three months, the girls donned formal gowns and walked down a dazzling runway, with their plastic surgeons and weight trainers there to gawk at them. At the end of the runway, they stood before a mirror to see their new selves.
I felt especially bad for the second girl, Kelly. Granted, her transformation was incredible. Her triple chins had become a single chin, her teeth had been filed to straight perfection, her zits were gone and her dishwater colored hair had been dyed bright blonde. “She hasn’t quite met her weight goals,” declared her trainer. “But she should still feel proud of herself,” he said (I guess we can’t expect Kelly to be totally perfect. I mean, look how far she’s come! Let’s just focus on that).
Kelly was the type of person who seemed insecure and troubled to begin with. This Swan show was revolting to me because, now, rather than helping her to be a beautiful person on the inside and telling her that she had worth in the eyes of God, society was telling her that her value and self worth is based on the shape of her nose and the size of her breasts.
As she stood before the mirror, I wanted to cry for her.
The crowd standing behind her was obviously waiting for an outburst of joy. They never got it. Instead, Kelly looked at herself in the mirror, in a daze, as if she didn’t know the person who stood before her. (Would YOU know yourself after such a transformation)? She looked like a poor, frightened kitten. In fact, she seemed even more scared and intimidated than she was before this mess.
You see, the whole thing was a lose-lose situation for her. She had been set-up by a group of shallow people who had found a form of happiness in their own outward beauty. I suppose it wasn’t a malicious thing for them to want Kelly to be like them. I suppose that they meant well in their destruction of this young woman, but they missed the point.
If Kelly ever gains weight again or when, someday, she gets lots of wrinkles and cellulite, like all of us will, she’ll only be depressed that she’s no longer “beautiful.” Her body will continue to decay on the outside. That’s a simple fact of life. Rather than being happy that her inward person is developing into something that is precious and wonderful, she’ll always look back on the time that society “fixed her up” – and that she, at least, had one fleeting moment of acceptance and approval.
Additionally, and this was my husband’s insight, now she’ll always wonder if men want her for her looks, rather than being satisfied that they like her for the person she really is. For this reason alone, she’s worse off than she was before.
At the end of several awkward moments in front of the mirror, Kelly finally managed a smile and murmured, “I look so good.” At this revelation, you could hear a collective sigh from the experts standing behind her. It was as if they were thinking, “Yes, I do have a wonderful job. I have the power to take a sopping mess of ugliness and give her true value and happiness. Here is Kelly, yet another life I have changed. I am validated.”
Kelly, I’m really sorry that society doesn’t tell you the truth about your value in the eyes of God. I’m sorry that you are being oppressed, as a woman, to conform to Barbie standards – and modern feminists turn away their eyes to pursue more noble tasks (like, for instance, killing unborn children). I’m sorry that The Swan is not a show about becoming a beautiful person on the inside. I hope you know that we could never have too many people in this world who have character, sweetness, generosity, courage and conscience. You will always be valued for those things.
Although I doubt a show that encourages a person to develop their inward character would make the same big bucks, I think it would do a world of good for the Kellys out there— people who just want to be loved and accepted, not contorted.
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