by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor
A lot of people don’t enjoy voyeuristic television the way I do. There’s a certain type of person who can’t stomach shows like Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, MTV’s My Sweet 16 (remember that hot cup of crazy?) or that good old syphilitic romp-fest, Rock of Love. The haters probably fall into one of three camps; either they don’t find the insanity of the “reality” TV genre engaging enough and prefer to curl up with every single incarnation of CSI or they are deeply saddened by the staggering dysfunction portrayed in most of these shows and thus choose to avoid them altogether or else they just have no taste. Maybe there are other camps, with other non-reality fans but those are the only two I can think of right now. Look, I’m not a sociologist okay? I’m just a writer with a lot of opinions and a cup and a half of coffee in me. No you relax! I’m fine!
Anyway, the point is, I absolutely live for these shows and was practically drooling last night because the second episode of Housewives of Orange County was on. This particular franchise of the Housewives Empire is laden with superficial bimbos who can barely scratch a sentence together and I relish every escapist moment. At one point I had to just sit back and silently praise the executive producers for delivering such a highly watchable show to its loyal viewers. I mean, when Tamra, the self proclaimed “hottest housewife” calls Gretchen, the housewife who was engaged to an old guy but was allegedly cheating on him while he was dying of leukemia, a cheating whore and Gretchen half heartedly tried to defend her honor by telling Tamra to shut the bleep up, I almost spilled my Diet 7-Up. Bravo, Bravo network. So no one was more surprised than me when my love for this show almost got ruined by the sheer fact that I’m a mom. Here’s where the train went off the tracks: Lynne, the newest housewife who seems to have a serious Vicidon problem (or maybe I’m reading that into the way she seems slow to process the simplest information), goes into a surgeon’s office with her two teen-aged daughters to get a consult for a face lift for herself…and a nose job for her already perfect yet obviously self esteem challenged daughter. First Lynne sits in the chair while Dr. Ambe, the go-to OC plastics guy, tells Lynne that her eye lids and jowls are her main problem and with his help he can make her look twelve years younger. I watched in disbelief as Lynne says straight to camera, “I think my obsession to stay fit and young is a positive goal for the girls so that when they get to be eighty they’re gonna look as good as me.” Then Dr. Ambe says “Should we get Raquel in the hot seat here?” Raquel says to camera “I feel pressure from living in Orange County to look a certain way. I always compare myself to my sister and my mom.” Then Doc Ambe holds a mirror up to Raquel's face and points out a bump that would only be visible to a delusional teen-ager or a plastic surgeon with a mortgage and says “it’s subtle so that good because there’s less work to be done.” At this point I was almost ready to punch Lynne in the head or at the very least bum a Vicidon from her when Lynn says to camera “Raquel does suffer from low self esteem. She’s always been bothered by that bump on her nose and she needs that confidence now.”
I live in Los Angeles. I’m not naïve. I know that young girls get plastic surgery every day. But come on. How does a mom sit in a surgeon’s office and allow her kid to entertain the thought that her face needs some serious help that only a scalpel can accomplish? What kind of vapid, narcissistic, space cadet condones the attitude that you’re only worthwhile if you look perfect? There are plenty of things I don’t like about myself; my ass is too dimply, I have a muffin top that seems impossible to completely defeat no matter how much I work out, I’m not in love with my boobs –especially the nipples. But my resolve to never ever speak those negative thoughts aloud around my five-year-old was renewed with a vengeance last night thanks to my ex-favorite show.
There is so much to love about myself so why not focus on that? It doesn’t matter how often I tell my daughter that she’s a rock star, that her curls are insane that she looks ridiculously awesome in her boots, that she has the best butt in the business. If she doesn’t see me appreciating myself she’ll never get it. So I look in the mirror and say “Holy Mother of God! How did I get so gorgeous?” And I walk around naked. And I keep my Botox my little secret. And I won’t be allowing her to watch Housewives of Orange County until she’s 18! But she can watch Flava of Love anytime because that, my friends, is good quality programming. I’m setting my TiVo.