If I’m being brutally honest, I don’t mind a good reality show every once in a while. I’ve been known to watch what the Kardashians are up to, as well as The Bachelor/Bachelorette among others in private, feeling slightly embarrassed, borderline ashamed, at these guilty pleasures. Being fully aware of their stupidity doesn’t stop me or the rest of the shows’ audiences from tuning in. But, I’m at the point now where you just kind of like what you like, accept it, don’t apologize for it, and that’s OK. We all have our little idiosyncrasies and things we enjoy. But, I do think it’s slightly problematic for younger teenage and adolescent girls to watch certain reality shows because of the women’s portrayed messages about body image, and seeing a reunion show of The Real Housewives of Orange County made that realization come to light.
I don’t personally watch the Orange County housewives; (I do, however, watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but that’s beside the point.) It was one of those things where it was a weird hour in the afternoon and nothing else was on, so I turned on Bravo to find a reunion show of the California women. Towards the beginning, there was a montage of the women meant to poke fun at their obsessive working out and restrictive eating habits.
During the montage, housewife Tamra was seen saying, “You know I don’t eat in the summer.” Alexis then was trying to explain that 60 percent of how you look is what you eat, 40 percent is working out, and it’s all part of the equation. During the montage, Alexis also said that at 27, she had to get Botox once a year, and now that she’s 32 she has to get it twice a year. Among these different interviews and voiceovers, the audience sees footage of the women in tight clothing and spending a great deal of time at the gym. In the interview afterwards, host Andy asked a viewer question to the ladies which said, “why can’t you women just relax and enjoy a meal?”
Rambunctious giggling ensued and the women proudly defended their lifestyle. But, what does this lifestyle say to the young women who watch the show? Older women may realize the ridiculousness of the lifestyle and are aware of its overall unhealthiness, but younger girls and women may be impressionable and simply see their culture as glamorous and desirable. Especially since the women are on a TV show with fancy clothes and houses, and their possessions and appearances are what magazines say is the ideal for all women.
To add to this, a portion of the reunion was spent talking to housewife Lynn, who had a facelift during the season and took her teenage daughter to have a nose job. Her teenage daughter. I think that’s a prime example of how a parent’s behavior and attitude about anything can strongly affect the psyche of their children. I’m not trying to judge and people should do what makes them happy, but in general, teenage years are incredibly difficult, filled with various degrees of difficulties, pressures, and insecurities. Nearly all girls are insecure about themselves at some point; it’s natural. It just doesn’t seem healthy to teach young women to get expensive and painful surgery to change themselves, rather than help them develop a strong sense of self-confidence, and to embrace what makes them beautiful individuals.
In 2012, $11 billion was spent on cosmetic procedures.
From 1997, there’s been over a 252% increase in procedures for women. As time has passed, social and media standards regarding looks have increasingly become drastic and unattainable, and instances of eating disorders have also increased. It’s important to realize the seriousness of this issue, and surgically changing any “problems” one may feel on the outside won’t necessarily fix the underlying issue at its core. With all the problems in the world, it’s also something to think about of how that money could’ve been targeted towards more productive places.