There’s this ridiculous show on TLC called “Strange Addiction,” and for some reason, my husband and I watch it. The last episode I watched followed a young man who over the course of probably a decade underwent dozens of cosmetic procedures so he could look like a Ken doll.
This man considers himself an artist – he essentially sculpted his own idea of a perfect male body and made it come to life. Okay, that’s kind of interesting. Still, there is a lot of fodder for criticism here – the unethical plastic surgeons, the lavish expense, the greater symbolism of a beauty-obsessed society, and all that.
But what really bothered me is how this man wanted to be plastic; he didn’t want to be real, though I’m sure the man’s psychological problems are far more complicated than that. But he does seem to be part of a larger trend that has filled my television with plastic people.
Back in the “old days -” which are always changing according to which grizzly old person is doing the talking, and for me are days of the 1990s – people looked like real people. Just watch some 1990s-era movies and you’ll see what I mean.
Take for instance “Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.” I watched this movie with my mom and sister over the weekend and I was awed by how normal everyone in the film looked. Christian Slater had a spot of acne scars that hadn’t been airbrushed out. Kevin Costner’s hair was a confusion of bald spots and hair-band hair. Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio was beautiful, but she wasn’t showing any buxom cleavage.
But today, Robin Hood would be played by the chiseled Chris Hemsworth, the yummy Zac Ephron would be Will Scarlet and Olivia Wilde would no doubt act the part of Maid Marion and sport smoky eye shadow and a little side boob.
I do not resent Hemsworth, Ephron and Wilde their perfect good looks. They didn’t ask for them anymore than I asked for large pores on my nose. But let us not forget – perfect as they may seem, these Hollywood beauties have pimples, back hair and cellulite like the rest of us.
And that’s the problem. Not beauty but the illusion of perfection. I want to see what these people really look like – I want a return to the days of Kevin Costner, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Geena Davis, and Nicole Kidman’s original 1990s face. I want to relate to these people – I can’t relate to plastic.
Perfection is a lie and people stupidly pursue this ideal as if it’s real. I feel sorry for celebrities, who have their insecurities not only pointed out and criticized, but carelessly airbrushed. They are being told they aren’t perfect enough either. But if someone who looks like Mila Kunis has to airbrushed, who is good enough?
Well, maybe Ken and Barbie.
Mr. Ken Doll recently met a young Ukrainian woman who has fashioned herself to look like Barbie. Apparently they hate each other – what a shocker. Ken’s criticism? She hasn’t had enough plastic surgery.
Frankly, they both give me the creeps.
If you’re interested:
JH Mae is a feature journalist and short fiction writer based in rural northern New York.
She worked for five years at a local newspaper, followed by three years as a secretary.
She recently left the office life to pursue a full-time writing career and now works in her pajamas.