Jessica Simpson has a new show on VH1 called The Price of Beauty. For the show Jessica and her two best friends Ken Paves (described as her fashion stylist, hair stylist, and make-up artist – yes all three. I wonder – does he get paid for all three?) and CaCee (described as someone who always “makes you laugh” – pray tell how can I find a way to travel the world simply because I make someone laugh?) travel around the world to find out about different cultures’ ideas about beauty. I don’t think the idea for the show is too original, and frankly, for me, the premise was only slightly interesting. What interested me more was the fact that Jessica Simpson was hosting the show. Before I saw the show (and I made sure to watch two episodes before writing this post) I thought of Simpson as silly and ditzy and not much else. I was not a fan of her music, and I only once watched half an episode of her successful reality show with ex-husband Nick Lachey Newlyweds. Currently Simpson’s life is regular tabloid and gossip website fodder, and her weight and fashion choices, particularly her poor fashion choices, are both widely publicized and critiqued. People love to judge her, and I guess I started to feel bad for her. Of course, why should I have any sympathy for someone who really became famous because of a reality she chose to be on and who, while ridiculed and constantly judged, is also very successful (her accessories and clothes line is wildly popular, and I have to say I think the products are very cute though I don’t own any myself). Yet I do have sympathy for Jessica Simpson because why should your poor choice of jeans make you the laughing-stock of an entire nation? And I also wonder – how does one keep up their self-esteem when under constant media scrutiny? So I was pleased to see Simpson address these very issues in her show. In the show, for me, Simpson came across as, yes, ditzy and silly but also sweet, empathetic, and even introspective.
Simpson states in the first episode of the show that she sees the show as a personal journey in order for her to find out what other women consider beautiful so she can help define that term for herself. The two episodes of the show that I saw where set in Thailand and Paris. Each half an hour show was a mix of both very serious and more frivolous topics. For instance in Thailand Simpson and her friends meet a woman who basically burned the skin on her face off trying to lighten her skin color. The woman’s face is now disfigured and her life is ruined. In Paris they meet a former model who became severely anorexic trying to meet the insane weight requirements expected of her by the French fashion industry. Also in Thailand Jessica, Ken, and CaCee meet women from the Karen Tribe who wear up to 20 pounds of gold rings around their necks (see the photo above) in order to try to understand a beauty ritual and a concept of beauty that is foreign to them. And in Paris the three friends get wine and grape spa treatments at the Caudalie Spa in Paris.
I do wonder who the show’s target audience is meant to be. Since the show is on VH1 which is home to reality shows with brain-dead morons (see Tool Academy) or washed up former “celebrities” (see Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, which I will admit I watch and like, or Celebrity Fit Club) I don’t think this show entirely fits in with the rest of the network’s programming. Perhaps it would have been better suited for MTV and a younger demographic?
If you are watching this show for big insights – both personal and cultural – I advise you to look elsewhere. But I do think the simple and important message – accept yourself and love yourself no matter how you look – comes through loud and clear. I actually admire Jessica Simpson for being able to show such a vulnerable side of herself on camera. Would I watch the show again? Probably not. I’ll stick to my Bravo reality shows thank you very much. But did I suffer while watching the two episodes I watched? Definitely not. Perhaps the show could have been better made, but I do think it is important that Simpson is trying to show girls and women that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and permutations.
And speaking of beauty coming in all shapes, colors, and sizes I also watched two episodes of VH1′s new makeover show Transform Me. Makeover shows are really a dime a dozen, but I still love them. The twist about this show is that it hosted by three beautiful transgender women. Who would know more about transformations than three women who were born men? Equal parts camp and sass the three makeover mavens in the show actually did a great job at transforming the women who needed their help. But now that my curiosity at the show has been satisfied I don’t think I’ll keep watching. Anyhow, I am still desperately waiting for Trinny and Susannah, the original hosts of BBC’s What Not To Wear and my all time favorite makeover queens, to have a new show. Trinny and Susannah – I love you both! Please have a new show soon!