The Magic and Menace of Makeovers

There’s something satisfying about movie makeovers that leave us wanting more, every time. We love them, we grew up on them, and whether it’s a secret or not, we want to get one ourselves. Scenes like these are all fun and games, to be enjoyed with a bucket of popcorn, but their effects on young men and women are far deeper than one might notice.

The list of iconic makeovers in movies seems to be never ending, ranging from Grease (1978) to The Princess Diaries (2001), and from Clueless (1995) to even the classic Disney Movie Cinderella (1950). It also applies to male makeovers and transformations too like the ones seen in Crazy Stupid Love (2011) and Just Friends (2005). One of the things these films all have in common is the theme that people have to change their appearance in order to get the person they love, get the job, or get the popularity. The idea that the makeovers are planting into the minds of younger viewers is that their natural, comfortable self isn’t enough, and they need to become someone else. Feeling that way simply because of watching a feel-good movie someone adores can be incredibly detrimental to their self-esteem, which can lead to more severe consequences for their mental health.

Low self-esteem is a very negative trait to be living with. Having lower self-esteem because someone is hyper focused on becoming someone other than themselves can lead to increased anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and poor job performance among others. Think about the movie Just Friends starring Ryan Reynolds. Growing up, he was in love with his best friend, but she never bat an eye to him in a romantic way because he was severely overweight. Fast forward to when they are both adults, he is a transformed man in great shape who gets all the girls he could ever ask for. Even the best friend begins to look at Reynolds’s character differently. Viewers at home who may be in the same situation his character used to be in may feel that their weight is holding them back. This can lead to someone falling into eating disorders to lose weight. In some severe cases, low self-esteem is also closely related to suicidal tendencies. It’s hard to imagine these negative and intense things can arise because of a movie, but the reality is that they can, especially if viewers are fed the exact same themes over and over again with every makeover movie they watch.

For viewers of these beloved and well-known movies, their entertainment subconsciously picks away at their mental health. Makeover scenes make them believe that if only they looked a different way, they could be happy, just like the characters did. It’s the magic of makeovers that help people be happy and successful through a new hairstyle, some makeup, fancy clothes, and taking off glasses, right? Slowly but surely, our romantic-comedy guilty pleasures have turned our minds into our own worst enemy.

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