Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Critisizing Plain Jane part 7: Episode 1 final part

Part 2: Opening credits
At last - The final part of my review-commentary of the first episode of this horrific makeover show...

Part V:

üSummary: Cristen's makeover and training is nearly finished! She has learned that her own choice of comfy clothes and her hobbies make her look like a man (Women can't dress comfy and the only feminine hobbies are make-up and shopping!). She has somehow agreed to go through a ridiculous torture phobia experiment for the viewers' entertainment and a warped vision of what her priorities are in life. She has conformed to a one-choice-only compulsory ideal of how women should be dressing - High heels very much included. She has learned to objectify herself for the men in a burlesque club as a key part in her training. And she has learned to flirt with strangers while being zapped like an animal in training.
 Now only her physical makeover remains! Because women, take note: You are never enough, and your hair and face will always need chemical products and make-up in order to make you look attractive.
"This is it! This is the transformation! Big time, OK!"

Are we in the Capitol, by any chance? Nope, Effie is way more awesome. Duh.

As the first part of the physical makeover, the stylist takes Cristen to an 'amazing hair stylist' and a 'stylist to the stars' in order to change her hair.

Cristen is 'terrified', and she says that she 'has never dyed her hair' and judging by her body language and her state of panic, she very obviously doesn't want to. Another similar reaction to the one that she showed in the burlesque club. But we don't care what her boundaries and personal choices are (Louise the stylist jokes 'Look, she is shaking, this is worst than the snails!'), she should 'trust' them and she'll end up loving everything they do to her anyway, because that's what the non-existent logic of the show is about.
Consent doesn't matter because she's going to love it all anyway
Now, long hair natural haircare is one of my biggest hobbies, and the way society tells women to treat their hair to be considered as attractive totally bugs me. Apart from the use of a lot of needless and potentially harmful chemicals in shampoos, conditioner and various 'hair treatments', it's all about:
 'Let's dye your hair with non-hair-friendly chemicals because your natural hair-colour is not good enough!'

 'Let's change your natural texture, not for fun, but because your own natural texture is not good enough!'

'Let's break and dry out and destroy your hair with heat tools, horrible brushes, backcombing and unnecessary chemical-ridden products! By the way, I’m a professional hair stylist and/or I work with celebrities.

And, of course, the classical 'Let's cut your hair shorter, it's too damn long and/or weird and/or apparently not sexy enough!', or the alternative ‘You should grow your hair longer or wear extensions, short hair is not feminine enough!

This doesn't have anything to do with a woman dyeing, texturing or cutting/adding extensions/growing out her hair, for her own reasons and wishes, without anybody telling her she can only do so-and-so to her hair in order to look 'attractive' and thus 'socially accepted' (even though societal constructs will always have a degree of influence, our choices never come from the void). I can critisize the potentially harmful heat methods and chemical dyes in a general way, but that's about it, and it's her hair anyway, not mine. Not my business. 

What I can't stand is people (and society in general) telling us an interesting variety of lies, such as -

 1) The only way to grow long healthy hair is to buy our expensive and chemical-ridden treatments. Heat methods won't harm your hair as long as you use more chemical-ridden heat protection which doesn't even work. Backcombing doesn't cause breakage. Using lots of alcohol-based products such as hairspray in a daily basis isn't bad for the hair. Etc.
(Stylist) 'You've never had (your hair) cut at the salon? This is like a dream come true!'

Because hair salons are sooooo hair-friendly and all the hair stylists are soooo capable and hair-knowledgeable, and because preferring to trim your own hair at home equals an awkward, messy, unattractive personality. I see.

2) And, more importantly, what they're telling us is: You are not good enough, you should conform to society’s idiotic rules all the time, and everything you do is focused on boosting your attractiveness so that men are interested in you and your life has value.
Me neither, Mycroft
Why exactly does Cristen need to dye her hair? She already had lovely dark reddish blonette hair last time I looked. What's this mania of dyeing everyone's hair every time? Is it red(dish) hair-hate, that is 'red and reddish hair is ugly' (something which I'll never be able to comprehend)? That's not particularly boosting anyone's self-confidence, if you're telling me her natural hair-colour is not enough, and her texture is not enough. And you're not taking into account what she wants. It's not because she fancies a change or wants to have fun with her hair. And let's not talk about how you're actually destroying her hair with the chemicals and heat and the tools.

She has "a lot of hair", so she's getting it layered. Naturally. Because thick hair is ugly, right? And if you have thin hair, you get extensions and backcombing and volumizing mousses. Because thin hair is ugly, right? The general message seems to be: Never feel confident about who you are to begin with.

Cristen is in a fit of hysterics (about everything, it seems) about someone changing her hair. Shouldn't this raise a few red flags? 'I've never changed my hair...OK, just do it! Just do it before I change my mind!'

That's interesting. Sounds like she was allowed to make her own mind about anything in the first place! Which she wasn't.

And I repeat, why colour it? Like, why? Does she even need it for a freaking date?  It's not even her choice! The message that she has to change her hair for her crush is freaking oppressive and sexist.

"Hello, brunette, goodbye blond". First of all, her hair-colour is more dark strawberry blonette than just 'blond', in my opinion. But anyway, why exactly has she got to turn brunette in order to get off with this guy? Is she going to look sexier if she's dark-haired? Will she flirt better? Does the guy need to see her changed to like her? Is this the ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype at work? We’re not over it yet, apparently.

"Your skin looks so much better" Actually, nope, but OK, whatever. I was going to talk you through seasonal analysis, but why even bother.  Anyway, nice way to tell this increasingly insecure girl that she’s going to have to keep dying her hair for her whole life because the guy would prefer her like that, and her skin looks so much better! Good job.

Oh, and good to know that apparently brunettes have more fun, because I’m not having a lot of fun right now. All I can say right now is -
Rose Tyler doesn't agree with all this rubbish
While the 'celebrity stylist' begins ruining her hair needlessly with chemicals, he asks about her date, so we get another scene dedicated to glorify Tye, corny music included.
'He's tall, dark and handsome. He's just a really good guy, everybody likes him, anywhere you take him people always like him (...) And I'm really terrified.'
'He's wonderful in any way, and I'm terrified because I don't know if I'll be able to change enough for him to approve of  me'. How wonderful.

And so far, the only compliment she is getting is being told that she is 'gorgeous' when she conforms to the beauty standards Sexist Stylist and Co. impose upon her.

And like I mentioned before, a makeover includes either a haircut or extensions. I get mixed messages about this. Long hair is "sexy", apparently, but people always end up cutting, because 'too long' hair isn't all that sexy (and here, with too long hair we're talking about...BSL? In long hair forum standards, that’s not ‘too long hair’ at.all xD). But shorter hair isn’t all that “sexy” either, judging by the number of people who are forced to wear extensions in makeovers like this. Not to mention that short hair is deemed 'tomboyish' and 'unfeminine'. Guess there's no point in trying to understand their logic.

And of course, straighten it, then add waves again. Completely logical, I know. Anyway, always change your natural texture (even if you're sorta reverting to it in the end). Why not destroy your hair alongside your confidence and healthy mindset?

(Stylist) 'Thank you (...), this is just what I wanted' You, not her. Interesting that you don't even try to hide that.
"You're not gonna see yourself until the transformation is complete"
"You're my confident, elegant woman. You're my star tonight, you're the princess" 
You're on display, my dear, I'm sorry. Nobody cares about what you think about all these changes. You're supposed to love them, anyway, and they’re not for you, after all.
I'm so happy to be on display and to have my hair forcibly changed just for a guy!
Cristen and the stylist leave in a luxurious limusine car, making Cristen go 'wooooow'. She also gets ready (make-up and dress) in a penthouse suite. Interesting how people bribe and ensare women into their suffocating gender roles and passive attitudes with pretty dresses, luxurious stuff (cars, penthouses, hotels, trips, cruises, rings, you name it), and parties. The whole structure of weddings and children's fairytales (Cinderella) easily fall into this sort of strategies. Looks like we can't wear a pretty dress or go to a party, without also having to fit into a lot of suffocating feminine roles and social obligations and bindings.

In the limusine, the stylist urges Cristen to really think what's she's going to say to Tye during their date, because she 'only has one shot'. Because Tye is always going to be the one in control of all the decisions, the one who decides if he wants Cristen or not. Like Cristen replies, 'No pressure!' Not only that, but also - Hell of a healthy egalitarian relationship, if you have to undergo an intensive makeover and worry endlessly about the guy maybe not wanting you!

Also, featuring Cristen being brainwashed and, in turn, brainwashing other girls with her warped version of what 'confidence' is:
(Stylist) 'Think about all the things you've learned in the last 48 hours. The new you, the confident you.'
(Crsiten) 'I am feeling a lot more confident after all the crazy things you made me do (laughs)! I've started to realize that well, if I can do all these things I didn't think I could do, maybe I can tell Tye.'

The next part of the makeover is, of course, the compulsory make-up session. Because women always have to wear make-up so that men find them acceptably and sufficiently atractive. Fake eyelashes, obviously. Everything she doesn't really need, all in order to make her think she is not enough. Also, on a different note, the stylists and hairdresser's in this wonderful show seem to do a pretty sloppish and slapdash job most of the time, in my opinion. So much for being 'professional'.

Make-up should be a choice and something women did for fun and for themselves, although it's a 'choice' which has its roots in the gender-role construct of our current society, something that choice feminism forgets (issue discussed here). ). Make-up is not a 'feminist' choice, because it does nothing to subvert the status quo, but it certainly shouldn't be something we put on our faces for other people (and mainly men) as the only way to feel attractive and make others see us as attractive.

"Oh my gosh! You look like a princess!" exclaims the stylist as soon as she sees Cristen with her make-up on. The only kind of compliment she needs, and she'll only get those if she dyes her hair and puts make-up on, of course.

Cristen is at last allowed to look in the mirror, now hair and make-up are all done, and she has her dress and high heels on.  She's now "A sexy brunette" (apparently brunettes are the only ones allowed to be 'sexy') and Cristen, with a corny musical background, exclaims -

"Wow! I don't look like myself (who I was before was all wrong, it wasn't the real me until someone forced all this on me). I kinda look like a movie star"
This is who I wanted to be all along, I just needed someone to force it on me!
No offense, but she actually doesn't look that different, apart from the fact that they have forced a new clothing style (seriously, what a hideous dress *cringes*) and hair-colour on her, and apart from the fact that she is wearing (sloppy) make-up. I actually think she was way more beautiful before (if she had chosen these changes, I woudn’t even state my inner opinion, because I also hate the 'you always look better in your natural state' aggressive approach, but it wasn't her choice).  And pray, continue telling us how this makeover has shown her how she really is, and that all these useful tips she's been getting has made her more confident. Do you forget that this is all for a freaking guy? What is that? That that's women's role in life, to go through makeovers for  men? Oh yes, I see, sorry, didn't realize that.
Basically, what this stylist does is taking impressionable girls and forcing HER own style on them, plus a lot of sexist bullshit >_<
"Is that person sexy? Is that person a woman? Is she confident? She ready to get the man she loves?"
Seriously. Shut up.

-You're  saying she wasn't a woman before (well, she wasn’t, was she, she was a man because she wore plaid shirts and played the guitar and had male friends!).

-You're saying makeovers fix anything. Way to go, telling that to an impressionable young woman.

-You're saying a woman without a makeover is basically not confident or a woman.

-You're saying the word 'love' when you shouldn't even use that word in this freaking shallow, sexist context.

-You're saying that a woman should do all this when she has a crush or wants to date someone. Cristen is only be 'ready to get the man she loves has a crush on' after she's had a makeover.

Has Tye gotten a makeover? Nope. He also doesn't really mind he's going on a blind date. He says he's 'a little apprehensive', but "I guess it could go either way". Yeah, he definitely feels no pressure, he hasn't got to change in any way and he is in power to choose if he wants the girl or not. And I get it, many men have been taught not to make a difference as long as the woman in question is sexy, so what does it matter which woman is presented to him? We learn afterwards that Tye actually liked Cristen in a romantic way, so - Why is he so cool to date a random woman in a blind date? He must really like Cristen all right. Also, he isn't called 'shy' or 'awkward' for not talking to her about it, either.

Oh, enter sickly romantic music and clichéd candlelit dinner scenario. Yay.

Tye is waiting in comfy clothes, seated and drinking wine. Close-up of her high-heels as she goes down the stairs (such an important part of a woman! It's almost as if all those high-heeled close-ups in the media are dehumanized, although I'm sure that isn't the case *sarcasm*).
Because she's a 'woman' now, not a 'guy' in comfy shoes.
Tye, depicted as your stereotypical (and unfortunately, often not that stereotypical) shallow and traditionally 'masculine' guy, gapes and goes "Oh my goodness, you look incredible!" Basically the only thing that matters. Cristen follows his cue, replying with a "Really??" that desperately needs his approval. Hell of a lot of confidence she has gained.
Ideal relationship: Her undergoing a full makeover so that he can only see her as a pretty shell.
Tye keeps on talking about how astounded and satisfied he is about her makeover: "Your hair!  Aaaah! Yeah! Wow! Oh my god! I am astounded! I don't know what to say"

Apart from being astounded by her makeover-red appearance, you mean? Clearly.

Yay gentlemanly chivalry. He has to get the chair for her, handle the champagne. That's the prize you get for having a makeover, girls. Just be pretty and submissive, he'll treat you in a chivalrous (and patronizing) way and ‘do everything for you’ (hell of a role for a man as well). Cristen's role is that of a pretty object who giggles and laughs at his every comment. An ideal role-model and so confident. Meanwhile, our favourite stylist is stalking the whole thing.
Doing everything for him in exchange for him assuming I'm so useless  I can't even sit without help. Seems legit.
'Awwww...He's so cute!!'
Tye keeps an entitled (and very dumb) smirk all the time. Cristen, now that she's ready with her makeover, begins telling him she likes him, and once again, we hear how wonderful this guy is. He's a wonderful friend, apparently. Is she a wonderful friend? Is she something more than potentially sexy? We don't get to know it.
And can we please talk about the fact that he apparently had a crush on her for a few years? Why are we not talking about how self-conscious and Plain Joe he is for not talking either? Don't frigging throw me the 'he already liked her and knew her for years, he’s such a Nice Guy' card when he's only prepared to talk about it now she's had a makeover!

(Cristen) 'Why didn't you tell me?'
(Tye) 'Why didn't you tell me?' Because I can never be considered the Plain Joe here.

Also, if he had a crush on her before, that included her former self with her former style. Which brings me to the beginning. Is a makeover really necessary, folks? How about teaching people to express themselves in a direct way with no misunderstandings, and I'm talking about both of them? Less flirting and stupid gender roles and more communication, please. The sad thing is, we are not supposed to think 'great communication flaws from both of them'. No, we're supposed to think 'See, it all worked out because Cristen gained confidence by conforming to societal gender roles and had a makeover'. That was what made her tell him. The fact that he stayed silent, we don't care about that.

So this last paragraph isn't in any way intended to glorify Tye for appreciating the 'true Cristen' in her former self. Also, he's clearly very satisfied with her makeover, and she also keeps on maintaining the stereotypically feminine and attractive look after they start dating.

After this oh-so-romantic revelation, they start dancing.
Happy gender roles for everyone!
"This is so romantic I feel like I'm in a movie"  That strategy I was talking about before, make everything glamorous and interesting and alluring and people will swallow all your gender roles willingly.

Tye can only say: "I'm ecstatic to be here. I can't believe the way you look!"
That’s all he’s processed. All the guys are plain idiotic dumbos in this show. But he had a crush on her before, remember that. Only he chose not to mention it until she went through a whole makeover. That's a coincidence!

'I'm so glad it was you'  But he was open and happy to try it with the random girl anyway!

And of course, Louise has to have her final say: "That's another plain Jane converted. Another wallflower has blossomed and found romance. I'm so happy. My work here is done."
And notice that he isn't called a wallflower or shy because he didn't tell her and that he hasn't had to change anything about himself.

Three  months later. Oh look, she's still allowed to play the guitar and be a woman! But of course, she has to dress feminine and sexy and wear heels while she’s doing it or she will be mistaken for a man again.

But, wait for it, this is what the guitar is for now:
She, singing - "I like thinking of cool stuff to make (you)".
He, singing: "I like eating cookies that you bake" 

She, singing: "I like diamonds even when they're fake" Because a relationship that doesn't end in marriage is worthless!

Oh my gods, oh my gods, *fangirling* such a balanced relationship with so few gender roles, all the feels, oh my gods, it’s so cute and romantic I can’t even!