Why is there an American fascination with makeovers?

Queen Latifa. Jordin Sparks. Jennifer Hudson. Stars who were once fabulously “curvy” are now showing off bodies that are famously fit. These powerhouse women have recently been promoting slightly slimmed-down, toned-up bodies doing weight-loss commercials, posting “skinny pics” on Twitter and doing interviews about their new look.

When did losing weight become entertaining?

We love watching people get “made over.” Shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition” are huge hits. There’s something motivating and awe-inspiring about watching people completely transform their bodies in a short amount of months.

If I’ve learned anything from being in the entertainment industry, it’s that the difference between a star walking the red carpet and your average everyday American is basically just the amount of time they spend sprucing themselves up. Anyone can look “red-carpet ready” with the right tools or trainer.

Before gracing the stage of “American Idol” every Tuesday and Wednesday night, we as contestants would spend upwards of 30-45 minutes in the hair chair alone with the amazing Dean Banowitz, the brain behind the mane. We sported everything from dreads to curls to stick-straight extensions. Trying to please 12 different people and personalities took a lot of patience and creativity from Banowitz.

Then it was on to makeup for an additional half hour. Even the men had to get touch-ups, and there was more than one occasion where I found myself seated next to Ryan Seacrest or Simon Cowell as they got a fresh layer of powder and “guyliner.”

After one show, in which my hair went from chin-length to over-the-shoulder (thanks to extensions), I got a write-up in “People” magazine saying I had the “hottest makeover” of the bunch. The article went on to speculate on whether or not my blond locks would help me win the “American Idol” crown, and I thought that was a little strange. Did my hairstyle really have that much impact on getting me votes?

We place so much emphasis on outward appearance in America. If you’ve any doubt, just take a drive up I-15 where you’ll see billboard after billboard advertising plastic surgery and other body-enhancing intervention. There are thousands of weight-loss diets, books and beauty shows, all boasting to have the secret to the body of your dreams. In all reality, I believe that in most cases people have the ability to look nearly however they want. It’s just a matter of learning how to enhance their best features – and I’m not just talking about outward features.

One of the reasons I love watching shows such as TLC’s “What Not to Wear” is that it transforms completely normal people, who may be struggling to know how to present themselves, and teaches them how to dress and do their hair and makeup in a positive way that builds confidence and lets them see themselves in a whole new light. No surgery, no botox, no nip or tucks. It’s not that they don’t encourage participants to set goals to be more healthy or fit; they just make them feel good about who they are right now, and make a point to talk about who that person is, what makes them special and what they love about their personality.

So my question is this: When is paying attention to outward appearance or one’s perception of “beauty” taken too far? Can the need for approval and wanting to look nice or presentable become obsessive?

We love watching people become “beautiful” on the outside, but have you ever seen individuals change their attitude when they dramatically changed their looks? How was it – positive or negative?

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