Everyone get your abstract thinking caps on! It’s time for a game of….COMPARISON! (So sue me, I was not inspired to think of a better name for this little exercise.)
The Question: What do the following movies have in common?
- Bridget Jones’ Diary.
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
- Miss Congeniality.
- She’s All That.
- My Fair Lady.
No, they are not all musicals and books — at least I think they aren’t. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if these all ended up as musicals on or off Broadway in the future. If that happens, all of you non-believers should give me a medal.
There are a few things that all of these movies have in common: A) there is a female protagonist; B) By and large, these movies would be described by the general public as “cute” or “funny”; but the big commonality that I want to focus on is
The Answer: Every single protagonist finds love….after they are transformed or made over to appear more beautiful.
This irks me a little more than I realized. Don’t get me wrong — there is a significant amount of social commentary surrounding the idea that you need to “dress to impress” in order to show your best when meeting anybody. And in many ways, first impressions are pretty important — you simply never know who you will meet on any given day.
The beef that I have with this movie format is that it is so very unrealistic and unreasonable. My head is spinning with the conflicting signals from society — isn’t Mr. Right supposed to accept you for who you are as a person? And yet, judging from our cinematic evidence, you need to be able to identify your lack of beauty and do something about it to capture Mr. Right once and for all. Also, these makeovers have perpetuated the unreasonable expectation that the guy will be completely stunned the moment they see the “new you” and will work even harder to win you over.
Which one is it? I’m inclined to support the former, but it seems to me that the rest of the entertainment industry has yet to hop onto this band wagon with any gusto. Growing up, I was convinced that I would have to have some monumental change in my appearance to find the right person for me. It simply wasn’t enough to be myself; there had to be some sudden transformation that changed me from less-than-desirable to happy-ever-after-able.
The intent may not be nearly as deep as it appears because these are happy endings! They fall in love! Romance fills the air so sweetly! However, the fact still remains that the women in these roles are deemed unfavorable for little more than their physical appearance. If women were changing their appearance for every potential love interest in the real world, life would be an absolute circus, and it would be nearly impossible to tell where their personal preferences began and their predatory man-prowling body ended.
No one person should dictate what a woman must do to be “beautiful” except herself. It is so easy to search for approval in the eyes of those one admires, but it should never require a team of makeup artists. Personally, if that is what it takes to make someone fall head-over-heels for me, I would keep on looking.