Wednesday, November 16, 2005

 

Trinny and Susannah

This blog is about the media as well as national politics so I thought I'd make a short posting on how one particular programme struck me as providing insights into current society. I've never really been a fan of reality television nor indeed of clothes and appearance- as any friend of mine, let alone my partner, Kate will confirm. But Kate persuaded me to watch Trinny and Susannah recently and I have to confess I was amazed and impressed. Why?

1. The programme concerned girls in their mid twenties and I was astonished how frail they seemed when talking about their appearances. After ten seconds or so they were sobbing helplessly, unable to address the degree of their failure to be the person they wished to be.

2. The two hosts carefully listened and sympathised in best 'counselling' fashion and then began the makeover which is the purpose of the programme. But it is much more than a mere makeover type programme.

3. Slowly the people chosen for transformation were encouraged to address the reality of their bodies- not easy for some but T and S were ruthlessly kind in the way they insisted on an accurate self perception. Then the question of how best to build on what they had been blessed or cursed with was dealt with and one could only applaud the skill of the two privately educated debutante types who have made this niche their own.

4. The final transformations were incredible to behold. People who seemed to be on the verge of suicide were now striding forward into their futures. New people.

I considered what had happened. Initially these unhappy people had an acute problem with communicating a version of their inner self to the rest of the world. T and S offered them a wholly new and superior version which seemed to revolutionise their self perceptions. This was both a mirror and a superior version of the inner self and it worked like a miracle. Suddenly a new possibility of self had been provided, courtesy of the BBc and reality TV. The show seemed to confirm to me the prime importance, in our society of self presentation or 'image'. One might even say that presentation has become synonymous with self. Maybe, and I think more than maybe, this is a not so good thing, but it represents a correct reading of the zeitgeist: you are what you appear to be. if you look attractive and confident to the world, then, perceiving this, you become these things. The external liberates the internal. I'm going to do more than grab and don the first things I see in the morning from now on. I think.

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