Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jon & Kate plus Plastic Surgery

I have watched Jon & Kate plus 8 since the beginning. For those of you who don’t know this is a show about a mother and father who had a set of twins and then a set of sextuplets, totaling eight children. For those of who are wondering why I am doing a two-part musing of this show and don’t like reality TV I say give it a chance, again. There is a lot to see in reality TV other than people making a debacle of their lives and I have watched my fair share of it.

For this first part of my look a Jon & Kate plus 8 I am going to focus on the cosmetic plastic surgeries that have taken place within this husband and wife. I am going to look at the possibilities that these procedures affects on the relationship of the couple, their family and ultimately as we now know the downturn of their marriage.

Ok, back when this show started we were able to see into the life of a regular couple and how they were coping with raising eight kids. This was no easy feat and the mother, Kate, was a controlling mother. In her defense to those who do not like her, it’s hard to maintain order, organization and cleanliness in a house of only three kids, let alone eight. Give the woman a break for doing it with more kids and less money. She was a normal looking mom, frazzled in sweatpants and t-shirts with baby mess on her. Her hair was low maintenance and so was her make-up. Who can fault her with eight kids? She showed us her stomach, which was nicknamed the ‘jowls of the dog’. I empathized with her and her sagging stomach riddled with stretch marks and never to look or be the same. I haven’t have six kids in my stomach but I knew what it felt like having had three and not being blessed with genes that prevented stretch marks. She was real and her stomach a testament to what she had been through. What mom out there in the same stomach boat as Kate and me wouldn’t want a tummy tuck to eradicate what Mother Nature did to us?

And then, somewhere out there a wife of a plastic surgeon saw the episode where Kate showed her stomach and thought she should do something. Actually, she thought her husband should, so they contacted Jon & Kate and offered her a tummy tuck, worth and estimated $5-7,000. As a viewer I was elated and jealous of Kate and her generous gift. Viewers watched the whole process through the series. However, something else happened after this surgery, something I don’t think that plastic surgeon’s wife, the show, Kate or her husband anticipated. Kate not only looked better, she felt better. With this newfound self-esteem Kate started to change.

Time went on and the bossing from Kate to her husband continued, only a little more forcefully with Jon. He kept nodding and doing what she said. The offers to make this couple better kept coming. On the show the couple was offered teeth whitening. They drink a lot of coffee to keep up with eight kids, again, who can blame them. So now Kate had whiter teeth to go with her great stomach.

Something else, Kate’s hair started to change, it was similar, but better. The cut was still easy to maintain, but now it had highlights and product in it most of the time. Kate started tanning to have that great glow. The sweat pants were replaced with an episode when they went to Banana Republic to buy Kate a new wardrobe.

Now, I don’t know how many of you have one spouse working and ten mouths to feed, but generally you don’t see people like that shopping at BR or having the time to go out tanning and keeping up their highlights. Kate wanted to look nicer since she could fit into clothes better again, without that excess skin from carrying six children. They were making more money off the show and had the excess cash to do all of this. Kate is not alone though, Jon was offered hair plugs and there was a whole show on that.

So, to recap, the family’s life was to be documented to show how it was to raise eight kids and through that notoriety the parents have become way better looking. The money that has come from the show has enabled this betterment of appearance and someone to be a personal assistant to Kate and watch the kids while Jon & Kate are away.

I’ve watched as this all was going on slowly growing more distant, until this summer when I heard about them separating. This was a couple that was, for what it appeared on the outside to be in a loving relationship. Tense at times, but loving, and most couples have these tense moments not in front of millions, so I will give them a little leniency. But going back to the transformation of Kate you can’t help notice that the better Kate looks, the more self-confident she gets. Of course you say, who doesn’t. However, lets look at it from another perspective, take out reality TV.

We have a homely mother who just gave birth to eight kids. She’s a normal for all intensive purposes mother. She’s not famous, she’s not known, she’s just someone who shops at Wal-mart. Her appearance is less than marketable from a procreation stand-point, with the stomach etc. She’s loved by her husband for giving up her body and self for the children. Now, you step in to this family’s lives and you give her a complete make-over and make her the woman she could have only dreamed to be before. You make her thin, sassy, fashionable, overall a desirable sexual commodity. Then you put her back in her house with her eight kids and walk away. She has great self-esteem, but isn’t it possible that with this newfound self-esteem and body she might think to herself, I’m hot! I can do better! People want me now! Even though, she’s still in the same life essentially as before.

Now, when you get this intense of a make-over and can hire someone to watch your kids instead of you being the stay-at-home mom, wouldn’t that change a person? Is it that unrealistic to see that they are splitting up? Jon has new hair, whiter teeth and new clothes, he’s marketable, and people want him. Kate has hair, teeth, skin, clothes and when she gets in the bedroom without the “jowls of the dog” it’s probably not as easy to see she laid in bed to give birth to six kids. She’s sexy, marketable and people want her too.

So I digress back to the cosmetic plastic surgery and the woman sitting at home watching the TV show, this woman whose husband was a plastic surgeon and turned to husband and said to do some good, help this poor mother of eight out and give her something that was taken away from her. I can imagine it being both a charity good deed and good PR for the husband’s company, but in the end were Jon & Kate ready for what it meant to their family?

I see this family as a glimpse further into the responsibilities that need to be taken with cosmetic plastic surgery. It makes you feel good, that’s great! I would love a tummy tuck too, but it’s about more than just wanting it. There are many other factors at play than a person and their surgeon. I think it’s time for the cosmetic surgery community and all those working in these types of vanity industries to take pause and think farther into the lives of the people they are affecting. Not just them though, there’s a responsibility even more on the people that choose to undergo procedures and to fully understand and appreciate what it is to alter their appearance, even if it is for the best, sometimes for the best of me isn’t enough.

3 comments:

Jessica said...

I heard about your blog from @khinsch. I haven't watched the show, but I follow the commentary and find it academically fascinating. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

Catharine said...

I'm not much of a TV watcher but found your post fascinating. Just discovered your blog. I'll be back...

Raymond said...

Interesting take on the show. Related point -- I had a girlfriend who was considering weight-loss surgery (WLS). I asked about social and psychological effects in one of the seminars, and the doctor replied that when one member of a couple underwent the surgery, and had successful results, there were a documented increase in breakups, divorces, etc. The person whose appearance improved often felt as if she/he could "trade up". As 50 becomes the new 40 becomes the new 30, etc., and we see cosmetic and anti-aging procedures accessible to more folks, I wonder if this will become more widespread? Maybe clinics will start offering counseling. Or 2-for-1 specials. Or spouse trade-ins.

"I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to point. I thought, 'Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn't, then there's a point to it.'" -- Harry Nilsson