On Thursday Robin McGraw, Dr. Phil's wife, had the opportunity to tell women what we need to do to look ten years younger during an oh-so-tired makeover show. Apparently all it takes to be a happier menopausal woman is microderm abrasion, teeth whitening, cellulite reduction cream, velashaping (?), eyebrow sculpting, 'natural' hormone therapy, not eating, a gym membership, working out in the proper (name brand) gear, an iPod, sunglasses, perfume, high heels, bubble baths, a cocktail dress, a crap-load of make up and a haircut. (Seriously, all of these things were mentioned!)
The show featured five 40-50 year old women who were unhappy with their appearance.
"I've become a frumpy mom... I'm not feeling pretty anymore!"
Dr. Phil's only apparent reason for even being in this episode seemed to be to illustrate the contrast between men and women. Every time Robin named off some inane new beauty treatment he would shake his head in that condescending "oh you silly women" way. He joked many times about how women just like to be pretty and thin, blah, blah, blah. He lectured the women about going to the gym (one of them moaned about weighing 130 lbs!) AND he consistently referred to them as 'girls!' Remember, they were all between 40 and 50!!
Near the end of the show all of the women came out to show their new make overs. The audience applauded vigorously when Robin announced that one of the women was now a size 4. Now all of these viewers have learned that being a size 4 is how women are valued in mass media, this is the only reason that this woman made it onto broadcast television. This revelation sequence was my very favorite part because the first thing Dr. Phil did was ask the women's husbands how they thought that their wives looked. He didn't ask the women how they felt or what they thought. No, he was much more concerned with whether their torturous beauty rituals had succeeded in making their fat, balding husbands' dicks hard. Job well done! And of course, all of this was presented as being some great treat for all of these women.
Another portion of the show was spent at the mall. Robin showed viewers how to shop so that you can look years younger! She did this with her token gay man and her vacuous Barbie-doll-looking daughter-in-law.
Heternormativity, misogyny and class privilege all smashed into one hour long show. Well done!
~The show on Friday was seemingly very different in its focus. However, if you pay attention to the subtext the connection becomes very clear.
The first part of the show was about Adam who is $200,000 in debt. Adam's family thinks that he is too concerned with material things. He claimed (and no one really disagreed) that "it's all about image." I am assuming he meant life.
He would buy himself new vehicles at an alarming rate and he went to the tanning salon and got his hair done before being on the show. These things apparently demonstrate his obsession with his image. Dr. Phil's advice for him?
"Why do you care so much about what people think?
"Why do you need that Hummer to perceive yourself as okay?"
"Don't be that shallow, don't define yourself by that stuff."
Now remember that just one day earlier he and his wife were encouraging women to do those very things!! To absorb themselves in their image, to allow their possessions to define them, to be extremely concerned with their outward appearance. Now when a man is perceived as doing those very same things, he is told that that is unacceptable. He should not be so concerned with material things or with his appearance. No, that is the burden that only women must bear.