Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On Susan Boyle's Makeover

Cuz God forbid the woman walk around the world looking like she always has. UGH, right? After being deemed to ugly to sing well and debunking that bullshit assumption, she was deemed to ugly to be in the entertainment business. So, for the feature on her in Harper's, she's been made over to be made palatable to the rest of the world. Just in case we needed further reminders that being yourself isn't enough, that you must outsource your beauty and self-worth in order to be deemed acceptable. And we need such reminders, don't we? After all, it's not like we're not inundated with them every. fucking. day. I mean, if we're not reminded that we were all born ugly and need a stylist and a trainer and a nutritionist to make us look good, we might actually cultivate self-esteem for more than 5 fucking minutes.

[/sarcastic rant over]


  1. Actually as a photographer I think they did a good job of showing her in a straightforward manner.

    Sure they gave her a trim and some make up but they didn't change her face or who she was.

    They didn't pose her in the traditional seductive or subservient female pose, weight on the back foot, other foot pointing forward, the body turned and head tilted, etc.

    She is looking directly at us but not posed traditionally like a model. (think of how the women stand for a Miss America type contest)

    The didn't even always have her raise her chin as much as they could have to lesson her double chin.

    They didn't photograph her from a box a few feet higher to make her chin less, or use studio lighting to change the same of her face.

    They didn't have her sitting on the floor looking up at the camera, the way I have seen Oprah and Roseann Barr photographed to make them look thinner.

    The photographer gave her a quiet dignity, as he does with others in his portfolio.

    They didn't give her a beauty shoot or beauty poses but they photographed her the way Hugh Stewart does other people of accomplishment.

    I think I have looked pretty much the same my whole life while I see people like Meryl Streep and Jane Fonda look very different from movie to movie. I would like to see if they could make me look not glamorous but a different style.

    As a professional photographer I was impressed with the respect they gave Susan.

  2. Kathleen, thanks for reading and commenting on my post.

    You make some good points and I do think people did a nice job shooting Susan Boyle. However, my main issue with this type of thing is that she needs a makeover in order to be palatable to the general public. That's what I was objecting to in my post.

  3. Well we all want to look our best. People do expect us to get a make over if we have the time and money, alas.

    Amanda Holden said Susan shouldn't get a make over but Simon Cowell said at the very beginning that she was a woman and would want to look her best.

    It is a fine line, we do some how expect people to want to look good for the resources they have. It is only fair to let her try.

    I've read the difference between Princess Diana and her sisters was about four hours a day working at it, that they were basically as good looking as she was without make up. But for her it was almost a half time job, if not a full time job, to look that glamorous.

    But I was glad Harper's didn't choose a glamour photographer.

    Famed glamour photographer Frances Scavullo did a portrait of Martha Mitchell that made her look like the glamourous models he photographed, but he didn't capture who she was.

    At least Hugh Stewart tried to get the best of Susan Boyle and not make her look like some thing she wasn't.

    But sadly there is a pressure to improve your appearance when you have the chance, it is ok to be ordinary when you are an ordinary middle class person. But there is pressure to look better the more resources you have.

    The affluent or successful are expected to look really good.

    The sad part of looking as glamourous as a model or Princess Diana is that women start to feel they won't be loved if they don't always look that good, that it isn't for themselves they are loved for for the externals.

    Let us hope Susan Boyle always gets her confidence from her singing and relationships with her family and friends.

    I've read that both Maria Callas and Judy Garland said that they felt if it weren't for their talent people wouldn't like them. That is sad too.

  4. I hope Susan is able to get through all of what's been said to her and done to her ~ it's gone beyond wanting someone to look their best, it's a harsh reminder of today's society being completely and utterly obsessed with how people look and if they don't fit the bill, it doesn't matter how talented she or anyone else is because what's really important is how they look.

    IS that how Susan herself really wants to look? If it is, that's great and I'm fine with that. I'm fairly certain though that she's been made to feel as though she really has to comply with many of these "make overs," directly or indirectly and I cannot imagine how she feels about inside of herself about that.

    Society today thinks nothing of humiliating a person when they don't fit the stereotype of what is "pretty." No one remembers that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

    I'm sorry Kathleen, but your statement, "The affluent or successful are expected to look really good." is just proof of how superficial our society is.

  5. Yes, I don't defend that it is right that the more money you have the better you are expected to look. One place that has changed is Silicon Valley, where I have lived the last 15 years. People are respected for their brains and what they accomplish. Very wealthy and successful people dress very casually, often they don't use clothes to impress.

    There is almost a reverse snobbery, of bright and successful high tech types refusing to dress to impress.

    Sadly there is a site that attempts to cruely make fun of Susan Boyle, called something like The Spoof. It seems to be obsessed with mocking Susan for her looks and lack of conformity to beauty standards. I've never clicked on the site but just see the links listen in Google.

    People like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert go after the arrogant media and politicans. They don't make fun of the underdog, of people like Susan who don't claim to be more than they are.

    I hope Susan gets to explore what she is comfortable with and finds what makes her happy.

    The people who don't like her because of her looks will never like her even if she looses 30 lbs and gets a face lift.

    The people who love her will love her as she finds her comfort zone. She has such a fun personality that doesn't show up in pictures.