Now well into its third series, BBC3’s Snog, Marry Avoid is billed as a make-under show that promises to ‘transform OTT girls and boys into natural beauties’. Tune in and you’ll witness scores of women who are apparently in need of a drastic make-under in order to reassure them they look fine just the way they are, and that they don’t need fake tan, nails, hair and eyelashes to look their very best. One sentiment echoed by almost every young woman hauled into Song Marry Avoid’s personal overhaul device (abbreviated into P.O.D- the harsh robot with a big heart) is that they don’t feel comfortable without make up. They don’t feel like themselves without make up. They feel unattractive without make up on, and some refuse to leave the house without at least a slick of mascara. The programme sometimes deals with interestingly decorated men too- but the majority of Snog Marry Avoid’s applicants are women.
Those of you who watch the X Factor will probably remember a young woman from Yorkshire who named herself Chloe Mafia. Chloe had a pretty good singing voice, and had also featured on Snog, Marry Avoid earlier this year. She eventually became the tabloid news’s object of ridicule thanks to her dress sense and beauty regime, which included barely there outfits, fake tan, heavy makeup and thick hair extensions. Queue vilification from the press and numerous allegations of Miss Mafia’s dalliances with the sex industry.
With both case studies, a few questions spring to mind. Why are young women so insistent on donning these extra bits and pieces, these add ons and addendums, in order to feel fully physically attractive? How did it come this? These women’s ideas of what constitutes as sexually attractive may be somewhat exaggerated, but ultimately, by toning down their image a tad, the same tired old formula of physical attractiveness = self-worth is still pushed, just at a different speed. Watch the Snog Marry Avoid ladies rush into the arms of their loved ones after their make-unders. They smile, they gush, sometimes they cry, as their boyfriends and husbands and sisters and friends exclaim ‘don’t you look beautiful!’. These make-unders aren’t as progressive as they seem.
Now, I’m no anthropologist, but I’d like to put forward the theory that the very same women who wear excessive amounts of makeup and fakery have been subjected to hundreds upon thousands of distorted and doctored images of ‘perfect’ women throughout their lifetimes. Fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines aimed and women and teenage girls have long been advocates of using airbrushing technology and digital body sculpting in the pictures they publish. On top of this, there’s the issue of the women being photographed for those magazines being unhealthily thin in the first place (not all- but an unacceptable amount). These magazines have the audacity to pass their doctored images off as real- as an accurate representation of what an attractive woman looks like. These pictures are a unique kind of conditioning- over the years, if you’re led to believe that a woman is only attractive with all of these add ons, you’re bound to do it too. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, when women in their late teens and early twenties attempt to do the same with the resources they’ve got. We definitely shouldn’t pour scorn on them. All of us are guilty of emulating our icons, and it’s by no means something to be ashamed of. The pictures are fake. Can you blame young women for aspiring to be fake, too?