When I heard a few months ago that pop star Jessica Simpson was considering a reality TV show about “real beauty,” I was thrilled. Finally! A celeb who sought to use the negative press attention towards her and spin it a positive way! In the wake of the offensive tabloid lynch mob over Simpson’s “mom jeans” weight gain, taking the high road seemed like a classy thing to do.
The details of said show are finally out: in a docu-series called “The Price of Beauty” for VH1, Simpson will travel around the world speaking to women about the lengths they go to to achieve physical perfection, including their diets, clothes and beauty regimens.
It does sounds like a cool premise for a TV program. But when I read Jessica’s statement regarding her show, I came to my senses about just who the feel-good, body-positive “messenger” is. In a statement about “The Price of Beauty,” Simpson said:
“I have always believed that beauty comes from within and confidence will always make a woman beautiful, but I know how much pressure some women put on themselves to look perfect. I am really looking forward to discovering how beauty is perceived in different cultures and participating in some of the crazy things people do to feel beautiful. I know we will all learn a lot on this journey.”
Really, Jessica? “Real” beauty is where it’s at for you? You promote lip plumper and body shimmer, perfume, and hair extensions, and even talk about how you got Restylane in your lips. But now you’re saying women do some “crazy” things to look good and you believe real beauty comes from within.
Instead of traveling around the world, Simpson should focus in her own backyard. She could put klieg lights on the computerized body-slimming and airbrushing that goes on in Hollywood, as well as the the insane amount of exercise and dieting that starlets undergo to get their bodies—including her own back-to-Daisy-Dukes weight loss after her “fat” photos fracas. If she really wants to start a conversation about the lengths women could to look perfect, she could start with the beauty industry she has not only participated in herself to further her career, but promoted as a spokesperson. I know she’s trying to take the high road, which is admirable, but it just smells hypocritical.
Who would I rather see lead this delicate conversation? Kate Winslet. Winslet’s body is as “big,” if not bigger, than Simpson’s and she’s been in the public eye (and trashed for her weight) for a bit longer. But Winslet has never talked out of both sides of her (one hopes un-Restylyne’d) mouth when it comes to her appearance—in fact, she has repeatedly stated how much she is airbrushed in magazines. Kate Winslet is an actress, I believe, who has true integrity.
In comparison, Jessica Simpson warbling a post-public humiliation body-positive spiel is a bit like trotting out Bristol Palin as a role model for teen girls not to have sex before marriage. Why, pray tell, are we listening to you, exactly?
I am glad Simpson wants to contribute to this public conversation about beauty in some way; her heart is definitely in the same zip code of the right place. But “The Price of Beauty” had better be one damn sincere show for it to actually work.