Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Inner Beauty Don't Cost a Thing

Pop musician Jessica Simpson's Vh1 show, "The Price of Beauty" premiered last night. Unlike the former music channel's typical 'celebreality' programming, this show appears to be less about ex-stars grappling for another pass at fame and more about real people.

I thought this show, which is hosted by Simpson and her friends hairstlyist Ken Paves and her assistant Cacee would be an interesting experiment. The premise of the show is that Jessica and her friends travel around the world to understand beauty in a global sense. Whatever country they visit, they are taught about beauty norms, and sometimes treated to extreme beauty regimes.

One would wonder what she's doing on a Vh1 reality show since the usual "stars" are of the caliber of Flava Flav and Jeff the-guy-from-"Grease." I can see why she would be up for the project though since she's taken a lot of crap post-John Mayer break-up about her weight, her body shape and her poor choice of jeans. Still, I can't help but shake the image of her questioning whether Chicken of the Sea is actually chicken or fish.

Now, like Sarah Palin, I don't think Jessica Simpson's flat-out stupid. She (with her father's help) was smart enough to brand herself as the dumb blond. So, I guess I shouldn't have underestimated her so much. The show was less obtrusive than I thought it would be. Certainly, in the first episode, which focused on Thailand, there were some ethnographic/ethnocentric elements, but nothing was exploitative. On the whole, I thought the show was well-intentioned. In this episode, Simpson and crew first visit a woman whose skin has been discolored by a bleaching cream, who as a result, is unhappy with her life. Later, they visit a village where elongated necks are celebrated by way of encasing one's neck in a neck ring.

"The Price of Beauty" both demonstrated that people will do anything for beauty, regardless of the cost, and communicated its purpose that when it comes to beauty, there is no true standard.

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