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TV's beauty makeovers mask ugly truths

Armen Hareyan's picture

From drooping eyelids and sagging breasts to cleft palates and stained teeth, the makeover experts on the ABC reality show Extreme Makeover have never met a physical imperfection they couldn't correct.

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Philosophy professor Cressida Heyes argues that, for all the beautification that takes place on the show, there are some ugly truths at its core.

The cosmetic surgery makeover show is relatively new to the TV landscape. Heyes, a University of Alberta professor who has published an analysis of Extreme Makeover in Feminist Media Studies, says viewers should be attuned to the values being promoted by these shows.

Radical makeover programs like Extreme Makeover, The Swan and Ten Years Younger sell the idea that cosmetic surgery is not about vanity but about uncovering your "authentic self." Heyes argues that they are actually working hard to enforce conformity to society's ideals regarding gender, age, class and race.