The first time I heard about FOX’s new TV show The Swan it left a bad taste in my mouth, but I couldn’t figure out just what it was that I didn’t like. The idea of altering someone so much that their own mother wouldn’t recognize them and not even asking the individual what they want to change is weird, but is it wrong? I hadn’t thought much more about the issue until I read Robert Bianco’s opinion. That’s when I realized it wasn’t just about changing a person’s physical image, it was the effect it could have on a person’s mental image of themselves.
This (slightly trimmed) excerpt from the article sums up the unfortunate premise of the show.
Each week, two Swan-declared “ugly ducklings” hand themselves over to an array of doctor Frankensteins, who rearrange their faces, fix their teeth, suck out their fat and lead them to the promised land of TV-defined self-esteem. Until they reach the end of each hour, when one is sent packing ? having changed, but alas not enough. There you have the true, sick glory of the concept. We convince these women their self-worth is wrapped up in their physical appearance, alter them to meet some unspecified standard of beauty and then tell all but one, “Sorry, you’re still not worthy enough.”