In Defense of: Within the Plastic of Bridalplasty, There is Truth
“You are the winner! Grab your syringe and go down to the injectables party.”
I really never thought I’d hear those two sentences on television. Even if I had imagined that botulism-filled syringes would be distributed as prizes for a reality TV competition, I never would have believed that the reaction to receiving one would be tears of joy. But it seems “never” is taken as a personal challenges to reality TV producers, who are determined to lower the bar of good taste so far that it’s buried in the earth and rolling in its grave.
For those of you who were too busy watching “Masterpiece Theater” and “Downton Abbey” to click over to the never-ending display of elegance and class that is E! Entertainment Television, here’s a rundown. “Bridalplasty” took twelve incredibly insecure brides-to-be and had them live in a house together while they competed for plastic surgeries and the chance to have their dream wedding financed by the show. On the first day, each of the women consulted with the show’s plastic surgeon, who was kind enough to circle with magic marker all of the parts of their bodies that could use a bit of the old snip-snip: crooked noses to be straightened, saggy boobs to be lifted or augmented, and of course, lots of fat to be sucked out of tummies, thighs, and asses. The women then made a wish list of plastic surgeries, and when they won competitions (by designing the best bouquet or looking the prettiest in a wedding dress), they were rewarded with a surgery from their wish list. Every week some lucky woman was voted off, and the last bride standing received every surgery from her wish list as well as her dream wedding. The competition “winners” returned from their surgeries bandaged, in wheelchairs and terrible pain, and hopped up on meds. And because the world of “Bridalplasty” has its own logic, the other women were jealous.
Nightmarish! I know. Unholy! Yeah, I said I know. E! probably picked it up to make the Kardashians look like empowered women by comparison. And I’m not going to lie: I watched the show for the sheer, sick WTF pleasure of it all.
Still, it did make sense. The brides obsessing over invisible bumps on their noses and dimples in their thighs reminded me of myself and most of the women I know. Scarily, “Bridalplasty” was really just the logical extension of our national obsession with reality television and making women feel terrible about themselves. And I love it for that: its blatant, undeniable awfulness is proof that sexism in America is truly still a problem. Of course, most women don’t get plastic surgery as a wedding present. But most women are saddled with body insecurity because we learn very early on that for us, it’s what’s on the outside that counts.
That’s what makes even the worst television redeemable. Buried in all the trash are truths about our society that have to be examined. Or at least that’s what I tell myself while I watch “Rock of Love” reruns.