Are they going to extremes?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 3, 2003

There’s a very popular show returning to the ABC line-up later this year, ‘Extreme Makeover’.

The title of the show is accurate. This isn’t simply a change of wardrobe, new makeup colors and a few added highlights. Makeover candidates leave behind their families and regular lives to head to L.A. for six to seven weeks.

The results are definitely dramatic. A drab, timeworn, over-40 mom is transformed into a sleek blonde beauty. A shy, bespectacled woman young with badly misshapen lips becomes a confident knockout. A slightly out-of-shape guy with a large nose and a weak chin gets a flat tummy and handsome new profile.

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It’s a tempting concept for a lot of us. All the plastic, Lasik and dental surgeries are gratis to the person being made over—what a bargain. You can take ten years (or ten stubborn pounds) off, while gaining a movie star smile and brand-new dcolletage for free. Yep, ordinary John or Mary Q. Public—you or I—can look like a movie star.

So why does this whole subject make me vaguely uneasy? Watching the actual surgical procedures is certainly squirm inducing. It’s all too easy to see the very real pain and discomfort the swollen, bruised bandage-swathed candidates endure during the recovery phase.

And while I am sure the surgeons and anesthesiologists used by ABC-TV are extremely competent and experienced, there is always a genuine risk factor when you have these kinds of procedures done—it is &uot;real&uot; surgery, after all.

I also find myself wondering what those with young children tell their kids before they leave home for those six to seven weeks. Is it something along the lines of &uot;Mommy is going away to get a new face, but, hey, don’t worry&uot;?

I watched the faces of her youngsters as one freshly sculpted mother made her debut. ‘Stricken’ and ‘confused’ were the words that came to mind. Seeing a stranger who sounds like your parent but doesn’t really look like the person you remember must take some getting used to.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-cosmetic surgery, per se. I’m a firm believer in makeup and moisturizer and brightening drab tresses. (Some of us gray attractively; some of us do NOT.)

But the truth is, nobody can stay 25 forever. And those models and movie stars that look so perfect on the screen and glossy magazine covers? They all benefit from professional makeup artists, hairstylists and special lighting, not to mention liberal use of airbrushing and computer enhancement. (Hey, you never see what they REALLY look like when they wake up in the morning, do you?)

Remember, nobody’s perfect. There’s something sad about trying to be that way.

Angie Long is the Lifestyles writer for the Greenville Advocate. She can be reached by e-mail at or by leaving a message at 382-5145.