I live in NYC but I've heard all about the Dr. Eva Orsmond Operation Transformation outburst (which led to this petition from Endangered Bodies Ireland to the makers of Operation Transformation). It got me thinking about the tough love approach that makeover reality TV continuously uses to champion the masses. I'm holding the ever-expanding health and wellness movement responsible. It incorporates everything from fitness, food and dress to the construction of our lived spaces and the design of our spiritual lives. What it really boils down to is being in control of ourselves and in-turn the makers of our own destiny. Contemporary life has become all about it and the television industry has latched onto it and capitalized big time. Enter the TV expert: the fitness expert, nutrition expert, the style expert, the life-lived-with-purpose expert. Not always but most of the time they're the hosts of the familiar makeover programmes that use break-em-down to build-em-up practices and syrupy, touchy-feely language to get people on the path to ultimate body/mind success. Men and women alike are given advice to implement, rules to live by, tasks to meet and regimes to follow. They're scolded and schooled; praised and promoted and it works as a winning formula.
Honestly, I've been seduced to religious proportions by so many makeover TV programmes. However, these days I look at them with a more critical eye. I think the whole approach comes across as a matter of life or death. The urgent need to modify the dress style, hair style and lifestyle of every misguided person, one at a time, is unmistakable. In my opinion, makeover programmes more often makes worse what they attempt to overcome. Instead of releasing us of the baggage that holds us back (the overall objective) we end up having to focus more intently and steadily on it in order to prevent it from getting the better of us. Whether we're targeting our weight, style or attitude we're, in a sense, required to resist ourselves as we are in order to become better versions of ourselves. The paradox is that there's always a better version; it's like the holy grail of change! Maybe that's why the formula endures.
Don't get me wrong, informed advice about looking and feeling better about ourselves can be valuable and indeed warranted at times. I'm just leery of TV experts like Dr. Orsmond and so many others who use demoralizing and demeaning antics, patronizing humour or overtly gushy language to bully people into change. Think about it, if you hired a fitness trainer or a personal shopper in your everyday life and they treated you badly or fawned all over you the chances of you hiring them again would be slim. Just because an expert of some sort has managed to make it onto the television doesn't make what they do or how they do it right or good and it absolutely doesn't make it the best advice. According to an article in the Independent Dr. Orsmond won't be returning to Operation Transformation because of being 'too busy' with other projects. Still, thanks to the cult of wellness and the age of the expert the brutal honesty of mainstream makeover television is likely here to stay, at least for the time.