stepford makeovers

In my local paper the other day, the Star Tribune, there was an online slideshow of women who had been made over by Christopher Hopkins, author of Staging Your Comeback:A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45.

I love makeover shows. For ages, I’ve been thinking of nominating myself for What Not to Wear, with a pitch about making over a woman who has decided that she wants to keep her “old body” instead of waiting to have nice clothes until she diets her way to a “new body”. I feel pretty helpless when it comes to dressing myself; I’ve spent so many years trying to pretend my body doesn’t exist I really don’t have a good sense of what it looks like or what looks good on it.

But that’s not my point. Check out the Christopher Hopkins makeovers. He takes a wide variety of women – mostly white women, and presumably all of them over 45, but taller and shorter and skinny and chubby – with cool personal styles and… makes them look the same. Check out Cheryl, rocking fishnets, long gorgeous hair and what looks like a leather skirt. In the after picture, she’s all teased hair and muted pastels. Gail is working low-slung jeans with a lime green belt and some seriously dark lipstick. After? A loose beige A-line dress and thong sandals with flowers between her toes (and admittedly awesome hair).

It makes me sad, all these women being prodded and stuffed and dyed and plucked. The range of acceptable female physicality is so limited, and the punishments for falling outside that so severe. Every morning, getting ready for work, I have to examine my face in the mirror and decide whether my skin is looking clear enough to go without makeup. (When my male boss has a pimple, surely nobody expects him to whip out the concealer.) When I go out on the town, I have to carefully pick out an outfit that walks the line between too baggy (fat chicks are sloppy, you know) and too body-conscious (nobody wants to see that, I’m reminded). We have to wear clothes that are either currently in style or “classic pieces” – god help us if we like flannel button-downs or big shoulder pads.

So here’s hoping Cheryl and LeAnn and Tina and all the rest of the women spend the rest of their days in the clothes they love (and maybe they love the new clothes they’ve been given) – at least in the comfort of their homes, away from the demands the world puts on them.

(As an aside, I covet Linda’s shoes. At least, I think I do – you can really only see a toe and a heel, but they look red and slightly chunky and maybe suede? Yum.)

(As another aside, does he really say that they did “light makeup” on Tina’s legs? Am I hearing things, or are we now supposed to use a foundation on our skinned-knee scars?)


7 responses to “stepford makeovers

  1. Yep, he said they did makeup on her LEGS! Sheesh. I don’t even wear makeup on my FACE every day, there’s no way in HELL you’ll get me to put makeup on my gams.

  2. I was JUST about to ask “LEG makeup? Huh?” But you beat me to it hehe. That’s bizarre. I really like a couple of the after outfits – the black unitard thing with the cool chain belt, and the third makeover, with the long, crazy-quilt purple jacket – love that. The rest, not so much. What are those colors, taupe, eggshell, oyster and beige? Oh come now, beige is so pedestrian, and don’t say “off-white” either. Jeesh.

    For what it’s worth I know a lot of people like WNTW but I saw an episode (out of maybe 3 total) where they took this woman, a pastor’s wife, who had this *awesome* style – very Stevie Knicks-ish, with funky little hats that she wore to formal teas, and I absolutely freaking hated what they did to her. They kept telling her that her fabulous look was not appropriate (when I thought it was the awesomest look ever) and they threw out her favorite boots, even though she was clearly extremely distraught about it and crying. She made them promise not to put her in a polyester freaking SUIT and what do you think she ended up in? Yeah, that.

    There were no words for how much I hated what they did to that woman. Her husband and the hosts alike. And she didn’t even really want it; her husband got her on the damn show. So there are no words for how much I will never watch that show again lol. Maybe you could get onto Carson’s show and look good naked :)

  3. Yup, leg make-up. There is this aerosol stuff by Sally Hansen and I’ve actually heard it works really well. I have a few varicose veins and if my family history is anything to go by, I’ll have many more in the years to come so it’s something I’m interested in. I haven’t gone for it yet, but I love skirts and bare legs, so we’ll see.

    I thought that the make-overs in general were pretty awful. There would have been ways to take some of the fun and funky parts of those women and work with them instead of just clearing all the interesting color away! I did like some of the hair though.

  4. The completely removed the personality of those women. Most of the before pictures were lovely — one woman in particular stood out to me as looking very friendly and interesting — and they turned them into robot women. Blurgh.

    I posted a rant about this very topic a few days ago in my blog.

    Oh, and screw concealer. I am 27 years old and still break out occasionally. So does my husband. I’m not going to cover up something that happens to EVERYONE and pretend that I’m ashamed of it.

  5. I thought that most makeovers were pretty bad, others were okay. I mean, I really hated the dark lipstick on Gail and the pink shirt on Cheryl. But the muted, washed out tones as an “improvement”? ICK!

    What really got to me was the commentary by the makeup/styling artist. “She lost 20 pounds, so we have something to work with”, “she lost about 80 pounds, but we still had to use a lot of shaping underwear”, “we had to take care of her eyebrows”, “a female mustache is a no-no”, etc. OMG, I used up two weeks of sanity watchers’ points just listening to the commentary. Sure, I tweeze my brows, but expecting women to do that as a default (or other things like use makeup on their legs, shave their arms, whatev) is just awful.

  6. Annie: Yeah, I liked some elements of some of the makeovers, too (the haircut on the woman who ended up in all black? loved the bangs). It was just the collection of them that put me off.

    Kimocean: Oooooh. I think I’ve actually tried that, at a department store. I couldn’t figure out how you would get it on your legs without spray-painting your bathroom floors.

    Karin: I definitely should have warned about the sanity watchers points!

  7. Most of the before looks seemed like comfy, casualwear that most people wear everyday (hence the term casual)… sure, some of the makeovers weren’t bad, others were just bland, but to throw away someone’s style like that? Ick.

    My mom rocks that comfywear look (jeans, t-shirts, regular shirts, vests) and I’d be appalled if anyone would make her change into a style that’s so not her.

    The After looks remind me of that Canadian plus-sized clothing chain called Cassis (owned by Reitman’s, who also owns Addition-Elle, Pennington’s and the MXM lineup).

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