Monday, April 5, 2010

A Surprising Review: The Price of Beauty with Jessica Simpson

I will be the first to admit that I put Jessica Simpson right into the "no substance" category when she was at her peak, filming Dukes of Hazard, wearing the daisy dukes (and no, I didn't see the movie, but didn't really have to with all the hype).  Then her relationship/personal life was all over reality TV (more lack of substance), and then all the drama with her on again/off again relationship with Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo was on every newsstand.  With all of this fluff media, my opinion of her worsened.  Any mention of Jessica Simpson and I was like, "blech! enough already".  If only the press would give so much attention to smart, successful, beautiful women who make their way on more than looks alone.  Give me brain power, culture and substance--PLEASE!

Next was her shoe line.  Jessica Simpson Shoes.  Not bad, but did she really design them?  Could I trust that she actually operated the business and didn't just promote it with a pretty face?  Where were the shoes made?  Could I be sure they weren't being glued together by 8 years olds in some country without child labor laws? Would she even know?

I didn't really give any more thought to Jessica until I started to hear her fighting back against all the bad press she was getting for her weight.  Yep, according to the tabloids, the daisy dukes would fit no more.  What stood out, however, was that Jessica Simpson started pleading her case for healthy women who weren't exactly a size 0.  I think I heard she was a size 12 at that time, a very standard size for the everyday American woman, yet the media was killing her, calling her fat, tubby, and wallowing in ice cream sundaes.  For the first time, my opinion of her began to change a bit.  Not because she was heavier (I would like her at a size 0 too if I got some brainpower with it!), but because she seemed to finally be being herself, and standing up for what she thought was right and healthy for her body, and to hell with everyone else.

So now, imagine my surprise when I hear Simpson is doing a new show for VH1 called "The Price of Beauty".  Simpson and her pals travel the world to see what women do in other cultures to maintain their beauty, and how each culture differs.  Before I could give it any more props other than "cultural fluff", I thought I'd better do my homework.  While it is true, some of the story lines mirror the same headlines we have here in the U.S. For example, in Mumbai, the show did a piece on how people are only perceived beautiful there if they are copying what they see on the silver screen of Baliwood.  Not too substantial.

But then...

The Simpson group traveled to Thailand where fair skin is meant to be more beautiful.  The fairer the better, because tan skin signifies one working outdoors, meaning less status.  For that reason, the cosmetic industry in Thailand puts bleaching cream in just about every kind of foundation there is, much like our obsession with the opposite, our bronzers, or "sun-kissed" cosmetics sold here.

Jessica and her group met a woman whose life was ruined by too much bleaching cream.  She had been a singer, had wanted fairer skin, but after using a bleaching product and going in the sun, her complexion was completely ruined.  She stopped singing.  Her husband left her. Tragic.  A true price of beauty.  Jessica was noticeably affected by this woman's story, and she talks about it here.

 I think it is brave to travel the world and be submerged into other cultures and customs, and to make the point that being obsessed over beauty has it's costs.

I'm all for being the best you can be, looking and feeling your best too.  As long as what is on the outside compliments what is on the inside...substance.  The Price of Beauty is no Frontline, heck, it's not even a Dateline, but it does show a different side to Jessica Simpson, where she is being educated right along with the viewers.  Let the substance begin.

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