I had heard of Bridalplasty a long time ago but knowing the premise I figured it was one of those shows I would never be able to see. It was cancelled after one series and shunned into the depths of terrible reality TV, but I had always really wanted to watch it. Obviously with vanity and plastic surgery being one of the main inspiration points of Vanity Scare I thought it may provide some interesting points for discussion. I was very surprised when I recently subscribed to HayU (to watch the Real Housewives of Beverley Hills) to find it on there!
If you haven’t heard of Bridalplasty (although the title alone is probably ringing alarm bells) it’s a competition style reality TV show in which brides to be, compete to win plastic surgery for their wedding. Every week the participants undergo a challenge and the winner receives a free plastic surgery of their choice. The overall winner wins their wedding for free and all the other surgeries they haven’t won already to ensure they look ‘perfect’ on their wedding day. Every time a contestant gets voted off the presenter of the show tells them ‘You’ll, still have a wedding, but it just won’t be perfect’.
The problems with this absolute car crash of reality television start right there and I don’t think you even need to watch a single episode to know how awful the show is going to be. However, it does have some extremely comedic elements, and is a fantastic, albeit slightly depressing image of 00s pop culture.
Clearly, the show promotes terrible body image (this goes without saying). It also breaks the codes of medical ethics by performing multiple surgeries on people in a very short timeframe. The American Society for Plastic Surgeons even prohibits plastic surgery being given as a prize in a contest. In addition, they are making girls compete in challenges when they are clearly still recovering from surgery and struggling with the challenges to the point where they are reduced to tears. There are also several challenges the brides to be take part in, where the main premise just seems to be to provide the surgeons and judges an opportunity to just pick apart the girls looks and make derogatory comments towards them in order to get a rise out of them.
The statement ‘You’ll, still have a wedding, but it just won’t be perfect’ is pretty horrifying. According to Bridalplasty the quality of your wedding is totally reliant on the bride looking a certain way on the day, rather than the people who attend, or the fact that you are marrying someone you love. Of course, marriage should be based on more than just looks otherwise you are going to be extremely bored when you realize you have nothing in common with each other in 6 months’ time. Furthermore, why are the brides made to change their looks for the wedding and not the grooms. Apparently, weddings ‘perfectness’ completely focused on how the bride looks.
If this is all sounding a bit like a dystopian world ruled by vanity, where everyone must look identical to be happy, the first episode comes with the fantastic quote “Congrats! Come and grab your syringe and go down the injectables party!” I am still trying to come up with a piece of artwork based around that disturbing concept, although I guess my piece “A Shot at Happiness” works quite well!
There is something sick about watching people compete desperately with each other for free plastic surgery, there are scenes of girls crying their eyes out when they don’t win about how desperate they are for a nose job. On the other hand, one girl gets super freaked out when she sees a fellow participant coming back from a surgery in serious pain and reveals she’s only there because she can’t afford a wedding otherwise. All the other girls deem this ridiculous and are genuinely concerned why she doesn’t want to put herself through massive pain to look perfect and it basically means they vote her out of the show because she “doesn’t deserve to win”.
There are several constants in the show which are worth a mention. Alexandra seems to be a professional reality show contestant after appearing on the Biggest Loser and meeting her fiancé on the show. This would all be very nice, but just won’t stop going on about it, to the point where it is very annoying.
There is also the mysterious and tragic story of Lisa-Marie who was brutally murdered by her jealous lover a few years after the show was aired. She had an affair with one of her nursing students who became insanely jealous when she broke it off and decided to patch things up with her husband. Her lover killed her with eight blows to the head with the hammer, crushing her skull into pieces. Apologies about the link being to the Daily Mail, unfortunately this was only reported by awful newspapers!
But the real star of the show is Jenessa!
Jenessa (is that a combo of Jessica and Vanessa, it just reminds me of Jedward) is portrayed as a real piece of work, imagine Regina George from Mean Girls but in her late 20s, manipulating girls to win free plastic surgery/wedding on TV and making her husband propose by giving him an ultimatum.
Jenessa knows what she wants, and she is not afraid to go to extreme lengths to get it! She is the puppet master of the house and she’s not afraid of breaking the fourth wall and telling us that constantly, just so we all know she’s in charge. She is playing the show as her own little game, forming alliances, pitting others against each other and downright cheating. Each week the girls in the house must vote for who they want to stay in the competition out of the bottom two brides. Jenessa basically knows who is going out every week before the vote, as she has made deals and arrangements with every other contestant to throw her least favourite person under the bus.
There is one particular episode where she comes up with this scheme (a bit like the coughing on Who Wants to be a Millionaire) were her and her ally touch their necks when they know the answer to a question during a quiz. It’s so obvious, the other girl is clearly aware she is being sabotaged and looks as though she is about to burst into tears.
This is irrelevant to her character, however there is a very comedic moment when she is casting her vote the week after she finally wins her nose job. I guess her rhinoplasty must have been oozing (gross) or maybe it was just at the thought of destroying Allysons reputation (which she does about 5 seconds later) but every time she talks she licks her lips in a very lizard like fashion. See the video below and my illustration of her at the bottom of the newsletter!
Jenessa really gets her comeuppance in the finale, when in a final twist to the tale, it is revealed that the winner is going to be chosen by all of the prior contestants voting, all of which hate Janessa and they just lay into her one by one calling her every name under the sun!
Although she doesn’t win, she secures the crown as the world’s best reality show villain, after having an absolute showdown with Allyson the eventual winner about why she doesn’t deserve to win, with the following extremely bitchy slur:
“SHE GOT THE LIPO AND SHE WENT BACK INTO THE KITCHEN AND ATE HOT POCKETS EVERYNIGHT, AND I JUST DON’T THINK YOU ARE TAKING THIS SERIOUSLY ALLYSON!”
To which Allyson retorts
“A HOT POCKET NO! THEY WERE LEAN POCKETS! AND CAN I JUST SAY YOU ARE THE BIGGEST SUPER C**T I HAVE MET IN MY ENTIRE LIFE”
I am mostly fascinated by how much of this stuff is genuine and how much is manipulated by the production crew. I can just imagine someone sitting these girls down and saying, “Right love, can you just cry a bit harder about not getting a nose job this week, you’re not really coming across as wanting it enough?”. Also, Jenessa, how much of her puppet master persona has been created by the show for ratings, they probably singled her out from the beginning and said you’re going to be the villain, say this stuff, do this, do that! A quick google reveals that she’s now the CEO of a big company so I don’t imagine this little foray into reality television has done her many favors, no one wants to work with a SUPER C**T, although I guess she comes across as pretty smart in order to pull off her plans.
To me, Bridalplasty represents the ultimate trope of 00s absolute trash culture. Obviously, I watched it and laughed and was entertained, but it does pretty much sum up how the 00s were a toxic decade towards women and body image ( I can’t make this link work but you can find an article here: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2021/mar/06/why-the-00s-were-so-toxic-for-women).
Bridalplasty brings all these negative aspects into one big hot toxic mess! The women are pitted against each other and forced to bring each other down and they are constantly belittled. All their flaws are highlighted and discussed publicly, and obviously brought up as frequently as possible, so they feel more insecure so are therefore wanting to win the surgery more and will go to greater lengths to do so. As much as a love the aesthetic of 00s culture, and I will always be fascinated and influenced by it in terms of my work, I am glad we have certainly moved on somewhat from this kind of entertainment somewhat (although we still have work to do). Watching this as an adult 10 years later for ironic reasons, I obviously don’t take any of it seriously but as a teenage girl in 2010, the whole thing would be quite exhausting!