Bridalplasty: Competing to be Plastic on Reality TV

Brides-to-be compete for plastic surgery on Bridalplasty, which premiered this week on E! The show promises, “each week one lucky bride will … get one piece of her dream body – going under the knife for one of the surgeries off her ‘wish list.” Grand prize is a full-body makeover, just in time for the wedding.

As Jezebel reports, in the first episode contestants covered their “gross” bodies with what were deemed more appealing photoshopped pictures of themselves. The show’s surgeon told one woman, “You have perfect breasts…for doing a breast augmentation.” Next, he marked too-fat areas on size 0 women for liposuction.

One commenter responded with an image:

Really, can you get more objectified than dissecting and judging body parts? Or seeing a woman’s worth primarily in those parts? Then creating some Frankensteinish creature in response?

Some women die in plastic surgery, from infections or complications from anesthesia, as though the shell of the outer self were worth the sacrifice. Surely these women didn’t expect to die, yet they gave up their whole selves in worship of their “parts.”

Continuing the shallow theme, Bridalplasty is as much about sales as anything. Like much of marketing, the show focuses on making women feel bad about themselves so they’ll go out and buy.

You’re size 0? You can still rid yourself of any remaining fat with just a little surgery. You name it, you can buy it: breast implants, liposuction, chin lift, nose job.  BUY, BUY, BUY!

Bridalplasty is one big advertisement.

As contest winners were told to “Grab your syringe and go down to the injecting party” I felt transported to a Brave New World where surface is All.

Brave New World brought me an appreciation for delving beneath the superficiality of physical “perfection” and Prozac feel-good, which never scratch the surface into intellectual or emotional depth.

All this focus on physical perfection. Whose notion of physical perfection?

What’s deemed beautiful varies from culture to culture. Tribal societies prefer the equivalent of an A-cup, while parts of West Africa celebrate roundedness – the bigger the woman, the better!

Instead of following like lemmings, why not promote real beauty and create healthy notions that appreciate variety as the spice of life – whether lovely rounded-curvy or AA sexy cute.

The one bright spot? The show’s poor ratings give us hope.

Georgia Platts

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Men Aren’t Hard Wired To Find Breasts Attractive
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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on December 2, 2010, in body image, feminism, gender, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. I happened to come home from a 12 hour day at work to find this idiotic show on. I was appalled at the “grab your syringe” portion that I happened to catch. I was mortified for all women that these beautiful ladies were so upset that they may not get to be fully plasticized. That they would think so little of themselves to put themselves through this. Obviously their fiances think that they are stunning as they are or they would not have been asked to become their wives. Sad, very very sad. All of them, Bachelor, Bachelorette, Rock of Love etc – beautiful women selling their bodies and souls (or at least renting them) over and over again trying to become a shadow of themselves because deep down they do not think that their “self” is worth getting to know.

    • i really don’t get it. i mean why should i fit in with this shallow catty society to please everyone. i’m happy with who i am rather than become some stepford barbie and i don’t care about trying to please a guy because at the moment i’m focusing on my studies so i can go to university with a view to becone a VFX artist which is a much better dream than winning a pageant.if socety does’nt like it, than they can stick it! i want to be me , not a living barbie doll!

  2. My younger cousin, 17, actually seemed excited about this new show, probably for the novelty factor. Like many other shows of a similar theme, I was skeptical that the show would do little else than call attention to our culture’s ridiculous beauty standards. “Bridalplasty” is just another show that devalues women and perpetuates idealized notions of beauty. The women on the show looked perfectly fine! These women should not be ashamed of their bodies, considering all that they are capable of doing– having children, working hard, being athletic, or having unique features.
    All looked pretty enough, especially since they were picked to be on TV– God forbid the network execs show the women who *actually* might need it. They all looked young and attractive. None of them were real “bombshells,” but just average, good-looking women. Watching this show, it was just really sad to see the extreme lengths women will go to to reach society’s beauty ideals and how blind they are to the beauty of their own selves. None of these women have any self confidence due to the high standards society places on beauty. All of the women seemed to want the same procedures– lip injections, botox, tummy tuck, breast implants…without any thought to what features truly make them unique. They all were aspiring to this Western notion of attractiveness, and many felt guilty or depressed because they could not reach this impossible standard.
    The women in the show must really become aware of their own uniqueness and not try and aspire to something that is not realistic. Sure, maybe some of these women have had children and are a little saggy from it. Or, maybe you’ve worked really hard in life and have a few gray hairs to show. It’s nothing to be ashamed about– it just displays how capable of a person you are– a real badge of honor. Bridalplasty just has women with low self esteem and extreme body issues just a piece of entertainment. We should be appalled at the E! network’s new show and the new lows it takes women to.

  3. I agree with you bridalplasty being just one big advertisement. However, I don’t agree its about making women feel bad about themselves and their body. I personally think that our society and media has set the beauty standards and plastic surgery is an enhancement. I am an A cup and unfortunately their are clothes that i wished i was a bigger cup, however i still appreciate myself. In China, plastic surgery is a big thing, bc these girls want to fit society standards. A song by TLC “unpretty” where the girl has mixed emotions about her body because her bf wants her to have a bigger bust. Like you pointed out african tribes appreciate curves the bigger better and like the breast fetish our soceity wants big boobs portrayed in playboy.

    • The way Bridalplasty can make women feel bad about themselves is communicating the message that you need bigger breasts, no fat, smaller chin… Of course, this isn’t the only show that does this. It’s just one among many messengers.

  4. I agree! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the TV ad for this show…..
    I read an article in a Swedish newspaper not too long ago, and it seems this soon-to-be-bride went under the knife to look better for the wedding.
    The sad thing is that she never woke up from the anesthesia and is still in a coma.
    Makes you wondering if it’s really worth it?!
    Also makes me questioning the huge expectations that people have for their wedding day….

    Actually, makes me worried where we are headed as a society…it’s a scary place.

  5. The fact that this show even aired is.. scary. I remember reading a young adult book a couple of years ago, The Uglies, that’s set in the future where at age sixteen you undergo plastic surgery to look pretty, and everyone under sixteen is “ugly.” The society in this book was completely focused on looks, and it was all that mattered. I really hope that’s not where we’re headed, but the fact that there’s a show about this isn’t a good sign. After all, these women are brides-to-be, and if they feel like they need to get makeovers to look good, you have to wonder how their relationship with the groom is.

    It feels as if today women aren’t focused on as a whole, but rather as parts – big lips, long legs, whatever. Like you said, the outside is just a shell that contains the real person. I’d never get plastic surgery, because “flaws” are what makes us unique.

  6. Bridalplasty: Competing to be Plastic on Reality TV
    This is a ridiculous show. I can’t believe how far these producers will go for reality television these days. I can not believe that these women consider themselves “lucky” if they win. I am not sure if any of them have been educated on what can happen to you during plastic surgery. Many women find that when they wake up things are not as perfect as they had hoped. I have seen countless amounts of botched surgeries where the women actually look deformed, not to mention the ones that do not wake up at all. This is definitely not “lucky” to me. Whatever happen to “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Many of these women on this show are ugly because of their attitudes and what is on the inside not what we see on the outside. They need to create a reality show that helps people focus on what is on the inside and the things that come out of their mouths and stop worrying about how everyone looks on the outside. I am glad this show has poor ratings and I hope they cancel it.

  7. I believe that surgery is good, but only for those who need it. If women are going to go under the knife before their wedding…that’s something I really don’t understand. Out of all the days of the year they want to get something done a couple of days before the wedding? All I can say is..wow! The thing that I don’t understand is that how come these brides are not doing anything to get the body that they want. How come they are not going to the gym and working out, why are they being lazy about it? why do they have to spend so much money on surgery when they could use that money for their “dream”wedding.

  8. Hannah Crockett

    Just when I had thought that reality television had reached its all time low, I came across Bridalplasty. At first, thinking it was a joke of some sort, I continued watching, but once I realized this was a REAL thing, I became completely disgusted. This show promotes easy-fixes and the idea that beauty is only skin deep. Why must these women rearrange their bodies (which are seemingly normal to begin with) before they get married? Why must they conform to todays stereotypical idea of what beautiful is? When are we going to have a show that illustrates confident, beautiful women–women who embrace their differences and their bodies for what they are? This is purely gross, for lack of better words.

  9. I watch E! all the time and when I saw a commercial I thought to myself, what has this world come to. The reason a person gets married is because they are in love, their fiance should already love them for what they are inside and out. I honestly do not understand why women would go to such drastic measures to be “perfect”. Take Heidi Montag for example on the first season of The Hills, she was pretty and looked like a normal person. Then when she started dating Spencer she started to change her appearance, she now looks nothing like she did before. To me all of these women going under the knife in the media are setting bad examples to young girls who want to be like them. That it’s okay to do this to your body for a boy. It is just wrong on so many levels.

  10. this show stands out to me, as one of the most stupidest shows on television right now. I dont feel that any of the women contestants are needing cosmetic surgery, and i am very curious of their fiances point of view on the subject. I also cant help but to point out that plastic surgery is said to be very addicting. what are these women going to think of themselves after they start having children?

  11. I saw the commercials for this show and was just completely appalled at the implication that in order to be a bride a woman would need to resort to this extreme idea of beautification. I asked myself, “Why do these women think they have to go under the knife to get married?” Why is it when they feel they have accomplished their feat of finding a mate with the woman they are, do they then change that woman? This show is the ultimate gauge for what is going on in the female community. These women obviously have a distorted view of themselves if they believe that plastic surgery will bring them their dreams. Is it even ethical that these “doctors” would allow one person to have so many surgeries at once? Society and women as a community have brought women to this point of just never being satisfied with who they are and what they have. These women will soon find that their wedding day will only last a day and that the marriage they are changing their physical appearance for cannot be made perfect with a “perfect” body. Women need to empower themselves and eachother to realize that there is more in life than being what society deems as beautiful.

  12. I am speechless. I have never heard about this show until now. I can’t believe that this is being aired. I understand that woman want to have a perfect body for their wedding, but plastic surgery is not a good direction to go to. There are sometimes risks when you get something done. Woman need to be confident and embrace their body.

  13. I’ve got something for you guys to watch. My 16 year old daughter posted this to her facebook and I, in turn, posted it to mine.

    It is a body image PSA. Georgia, this also goes along with some of your other posts…

  14. I agree this show is garbage, but honestly Im hooked! I can’t believe that women would even agree to do this. I don’t understand how someone whats to change so much when they have someone who loves you. When it comes down to it is your man going to feel the same way about you when you step out on to that isle? Most likely not. I mean yes love has to do with personality but at the same time you fall in love with the way a person looks also.

    At the end of the show the host says, you will still have your wedding it just wont be perfect. or something of that sort. But come on what are we really teaching people with that? Oh if you have some fat on you or a big nose you are not going to live a perfect life? I think that this show should go off air, even though im hooked the entire time i sit there and think 5 years down the line when their surgery looks bad how are they going to feel. Most likely not so great.

  15. Greg from Psych

    Indeed, the low ratings are definitely good news!

    Since taking a “human sexuality” course this article fits in perfectly with the topic of love. Specifically, what qualities are needed for successful love with another. The first quality we learned was that – you must love yourself. This show targets viewers who are women, and who clearly do not love themselves. Platts makes a good point in saying that other parts of the world have different physical ideals. So ultimately, the women on this show will risk going under the knife (unnecessarily) to fulfill the “American physical ideal.” All in the hopes that they will be able to love themselves, and thus, be able to love and be loved by another. Being that this is Hollywood, they will obviously all be much happier after surgery and “live happily ever after.” They will get whole new lifestyle all because they got surgery. But, what must be understood (as Platts implies), is that this show is nothing more than a commercial, using psychological mind games that target female (and perhaps male) viewers who have trouble loving themselves.

    Clearly, this show is telling women that they are not good enough the way they are. And, as we learned in human sexuality, if one believes that they are not good enough the way they are, they cannot possibly love themselves, and therefore, will have trouble loving others. So how can they fix this? By shelling out thousands upon thousands of dollars to doctors for surgery! Only then will you be happy (I kid)!. This show is nothing more than a commercial, pitching itself to those who are insecure about their bodies, and have trouble loving themselves.

    Platts hit the nail on the head with this article. BUY BUY BUY!

  16. I’ve never heard of this show but this is not very shocking to me, considering there are a ton of shows that revolve around the “beauty” of plastic surgery (Dr. 90210, Nip Tuck, etc). But since this one is a reality tv show, that makes it a bit worse because they are targetting real women. If your husband fell in love with you for you, why should you change your looks before your wedding? He didn’t propose to marry a plastic barbie doll, he proposed to marry you and all your imperfections. This is the sad reality that we live in. Nothing is beautiful unless you’re a size 00 with playboy model proportions. :( This show is a little creepy I watched the trailer (I think it was?) and it says that the husbands don’t see bride until their wedding so he’s marrying a complete stranger on the outside! I think women need to remember that nobody should look the same so striving towards looking like a celebrity you saw on a magazine is false hope because plastic surgery could only take your looks so far. Someone is going to love you for who you are so hating your body is all in your head. Big and small we’re all beautiful. :)

  17. This show is disgusting. I am appalled to see how low society has come. Since when has the meaning and purpose of living has anything to do with surface beauty? All of the contestants were all already attractive women which makes me think that this “ideal” image of women has caused many women to develop body dysmorphic disorder. The message it’s giving out is “you need to be perfect to be happy”. Newsflash, nobody’s perfect and I feel that it’s actually our imperfections that make us beautiful.

  18. I am very glad to have read from your blog that this show has such low ratings because honestly i think this show is terrible and is a piece of bull. On a woman’s wedding day they should feel beautiful and loved! This happiness and beauty should not and most definitely not be obtained from plastic surgery. But most definitely these curvy, healthy, beautiful women should not be ashamed of their bodies, and should not be told by a surgeon what is or isn’t perfect.”Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” is a quote I like because its true not everyone is beautiful to everyone but it is true that everyone is beautiful in their own way. As your blog stated in some parts of Africa an A cup is a preference and seen to as beautiful where as others see bigger the better! In America is is not any different, each person likes different things and these women are most definitely loved by their other half for who they are and not the “frankenbeast” they will appear to be after all these changes that are made on this show “Bridalplasty.”

  19. i watched a few episodes of this show and i think the reason why it didnt do well was because it was too blatant for people to see women do what many women wish they could do, especially for their wedding day. it made what people rather not talk about, put right out there. women will do just about anything to make themselves look beautiful on their special day, but what they miss, and what the show didnt discuss much was the men these women were going to marry. obviously they loved and wanted to marry you before you decided to change your body. its just horrible to think that a wedding is now about looks rather then too people coming together to start a new life. and to be completely honest im sure these women all had some serious insecurities that cannot and will not be solved by going under the knife, this applies to everyone. people need to see and therapist, not a plastic surgen!

  20. I think that instead of having a competitions to win plastic surgery, they should have done something healthy and something that kids can be inspired to watch, like Biggest Loser or something. They should do some work to lose the weight! It’s their fault they got that big anyway… And to think that they can just play games to win surgery to get something removed just shows how lazy they are. Who’s to say that after the show they don’t just get fat and start doing bad habits again? At least if they are taught how to eat healthy and workout, they can carry that with them for the rest of their lives. I wouldn’t be proud to come off the show saying “yeah I played a couple games to get my lips fixed or lose my belly weight” when I could have just accepted my appearance or actually worked out my body so I could be healthier. Plus, this show is on TV. Kids could be watching this & be thinking that plastic surgery is a positive thing when in reality… Unless you were born with some deformality that prevents you from living your life, I do not think plastic surgery is the way to go.

  21. I’m so relieved reading this article as I have an A-cup. The size of the breast is regarded as a symbol of beauty and sexiness. We always see women with BIG (at least for me) breasts in ads. I feel that women with small breasts are not entitled to be attractive women. In my country, numerous women have had plastic surgery. Yes. Some died every year. Making round eyes is also popular surgery in my country. People call it “petit surgery.” When young ladies have the petit surgery, their mothers also take the same surgery so that they can resemble them. Consequently, no one doubts if their daughter had surgery. The question in this article “Whose notion of physical perfection?” teaches us a lot of things. I really agree with the article.

    • i agree with you! i’d rather be myself than turn into some frankenbarbie! society can go screw itself! why should i try to fit in!?

  22. Foot binding. That’s all it is.

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