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 TV Bites With Neena Louise

The Swan: An Ugly Series

by Neena Louise

When I first heard of the television show The Swan, I simply rolled my eyes and wondered how many more silly reality series I could stand. When I watched it, I was simply disgusted. Not for the reasons I keep hearing: that it's "controversial" (buzz word that guarantees big publicity and, thus, ratings) nor that it "exploits women" (these are grown women and since it's their choice to participate in this tasteless piece of crap, I hardly see anything exploitive about it). I was disgusted because of the primary message this sad, pathetic series sends: you are not good enough the way you are.

These women (who aren't raving beauties, but aren't ugly, either), already suffering from extremely low self-esteem, are repeatedly called "ugly ducklings" while the creepy cult-like experts take turns enthusiastically proclaiming "oh, she needs a lot of work" and "we have to feminize her" and (in the two shows I watched) "she needs breast implants". I'd say more women look like these participants than not and calling the average American woman ugly and unfeminine is highly offensive. So, you have to have big boobs and a small nose to be feminine? If you don't look like a supermodel with perfect teeth you're ugly? Puh-leeze! What kind of message is this to send? Plastic surgery is a personal choice. The participants in this series seem to need a shrink more than a plastic surgeon, but if being surgically altered is what they think will make them happy, well, whatever. It's their choice what path they choose and who are we to judge? What offends me is the repeated message that plastic surgery is the only way to gain happiness and self-esteem and if you're not a surgically-enhanced cookie-cutter beauty, you're doomed to a life of misery and self-loathing.

The first two shows I watched (I won't be watching any more) made me sick. The women were transformed into barely-recognizable versions of themselves (their faces looked unnaturally stretched and the word "Frankenstein" kept coming to mind) as they cried and gushed over their images, proclaiming "is that me?" and "I don't know that girl" and "I look beautiful!". It creeped me out. Even more so when their significant others walked in, saying "oooh, you look beautiful". Excuse me, buddy, but if you didn't think she was beautiful before, you couldn't possibly have loved her much (when you truly love someone, you think they are the most beautiful person in the world, regardless of what they look like). So I guess the message is: not only are women not okay the way they are, it's okay for men to agree. Sick.

This show wouldn't be so tasteless and offensive if these women were first offered hair, wardrobe and make-up tips, sessions in the gym with a personal trainer, and the all-important sessions with a qualified shrink. Then and only then would they be offered plastic surgery, giving them more input into what they want changed (rather than what the so-called "experts" think they should want changed). As it is now, it's just a horrible freak show that feeds off women's insecurities.

Let's hope more people think so and the ratings plunge this piece of crap into oblivion. 
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