I saw this program the other day on one of the Sky channels called The Swan. I'm afraid I watched all three episodes back to back. It was horrifying and fascinating, like open heart surgery and the number of dust mites in your pillow you try to ignore when you go to sleep.
This program took 12 women deemed ordinary and transformed them from the proverbial ugly duckling to a swan. This involves physical and emotional transformation and many women had serious depression and hard lives that were suitably dramatic. The Swan is the fairy godmother that will take them to the ball. The team includes plastic surgeons, a dentist, a food coach, personal trainer, arse wiper and bogey picker. They have a tailor-made program created and are not allowed mirrors for the whole period, in case they see themselves after surgery and leg it.
Many of these women had huge problems with self-esteem which were worsened by the fact that there was a pageant at the end of the show for only a few were chosen just to add insult to obscenity.
The program asks you:
"Are you ready to take the amazing journey from wallflower to beauty queen? You can be among 12 women who will discover what it's like to walk into a room, have all eyes on you and for the first time in your life, command attention with dignity, poise and beauty."
Can anyone feel their dinner slowly creeping up, sickly acids burning their throat with maybe a hint of retching? I can.
Then after 3 months away from their families, after the Swan program, they look different. They are shoved into sparkly dresses, hair and make-up to rivial the keenest tranny in town and photographed a lot. Here are some more before and afters, some attractive women who did not need surgery feature particulrly Patti C who looks like a model anyway but because mild neurosis and ageing anxiety, she wanted to be nipped and tucked because she had younger partner and wanted to feel as young as his friends. Some of these women look older, some better and some can't move their upper lip.
Of course they only chose those women who weren't too fat and those who had so-called obvious flaws that were easy to correct in order to have the most visual impact so we can all gasp in our sofas when they all emerge with a tweaked nose and bigger boobs and stand dramatically in front of mirror before it is unveiled.
The plastic surgeons are very smug, they know that we know that they know, all this is down to them and who can make the closest thing to Barbie.
Maybe the producer, Nely Galan, who calls herself the 'Swan coach', should be cooped up for few months and undergo tailor-made program to convince herself she should live in a shoe-making, buckwheat-eating, facial-hair-wearing commune in France and never ever leave. Now that would be worth watching.
The male sat next to me as I watched said (and this is normally an intelligent person) "I'd like to shake the hand of the surgeon who made those breasts". I inquired whether he really liked the fakeness, the caricature that those immobile, stretched roasted volleyballs represented and answered "yes". Fair dos.
The presenter is so embarrassingly insincere, it made my eyes water with disbelief. Her I-understand-what-you're-going-through expression looked like she had sporadic bouts of mild lady-like constipation. Maybe a few acting classes are in order for the lovely Amanda Byram.
Dr. Nolan Karp, an associate professor of plastic surgery at New York University School of Medicine in New York City explained that although this program is in effect a showcase for what plastic surgery can achieve, " a lot of the result is not related to the surgery. A lot of the results in many cases are related to the dental work, to the grooming. Some of these shows sequester people for two months and give them a special diet and get them trainers and buy them new clothes."
I became an awful, unthinkable thing that I vowed never to become: a sad statistic in the cut throat world of reality TV viewing figures.