A Makeover Won’t Make You Better

The concept of a makeover is simple: you come in looking “less attractive” and come out looking “more attractive.” This is supposed to make you feel better physically, emotionally and–in the case of crying Swan contestants–apparently spiritually.

Typical makeovers consist of lots of foundation, some blush, heavy eye, brow, lip and cheek contouring, blown out hair, clothes that make the wearer appear thinner and an elevated voice inflection of about half an octave (okay, maybe that last one is just my own speculation). Basically, the average makeover involves giving the made-over person an entirely different appearance. I suppose it wouldn’t be called a “makeover” if it didn’t essentially translate scribbling over one look until it changes into an entirely different one, but I nevertheless find most of these processes unnecessary at best.


Getting a “makeover” isn’t something I would recommend most people do for their appearances. If anything, it’s something I would strongly advise against: it puts an unnecessary amount of focus on some obtuse transformational aspect, as though a person isn’t interesting or of value until they fit a very tiny, difficult mold shaped similarly to a life-size Barbie doll.

Side note: I say “Barbie doll” because men almost never get makeovers. How many films and television shows have you seen where a man gets a makeover? They certainly exist, but they typically involve just clothing changes plus the occasional shave in order to attract women, whereas women’s are about looking better in the office, looking more stereotypically feminine, helping your newfound boyfriend beat fellow assholes at bets, winning pageants for the FBI and not looking like a whore. Women are given dozens of reasons in dozens of programs as to why self-improvement must include an element of appearance.

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    • Anon

      What about Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? I realize that there isn’t something like that now, but “metrosexual” is a thing essentially because of that makeover show.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        Oh, definitely–male makeover stuff exists, but not nearly in as high volume as ones where women are made over. Googling “makeover,” for example, yields almost exclusively female results. For every “Queer Eye” (which has a lot of its own issues regarding stereotypes), there are 10 “What Not To Wear”s.

      • Tania

        “What Not To Wear” did have guys being madeover. Not nearly as many, but I think that’s because not nearly as many men were nominated or as poorly dressed.

    • L

      “You are worthwhile because of your actions, not your appearance.”

      while this is a lovely sentiment….get real. i’m all about inner beauty blah blah blah, but the reality is that in most work environments you need to present yourself as a put together professional. In fact, as a scientist, i probably work in one of the few places where how you dress at work doesn’t really matter 99% of the time (unless you’re the boss). And frankly it bothers me that most of my coworkers show up to work looking sloppy in jeans and a t shirt, like they just rolled out of bed, but when i wear a nice blouse and trousers (and god forbid put some effort in my hair or make up) i get asked what the special occasion is. Um I don’t want to look like a slob. that’s the occasion.

      I guess I’m mostly just irritated at your comments in regards to What Not to Wear. Most of the time they teach people who are too scared/dont know how/ whatever to dress their bodies appropriately and as a result suffer in the work place because they dont present themselves professionally. 9 out of 10 times, the “made over” individual comes out realizing “woah I can look nice!” or “wow i had no idea how nice it feels to actually like what i see in the mirror.” So i disagree, i think a makeover can do a world of change for an individual–both self esteem wise and professionally.

    • Blunt_Logic

      I spent hours pouring over Bobbi Brown’s Teenage Beauty back in the day. It is definitely one of the best beauty books to give a teenager (even if it didn’t prevent my 11th grade raccoon eyes completely).

    • meteor_echo

      Let us decide for ourselves whether a makeover can actually make us feel better, will you? I wish people paid attention to other people’s personalities, but I think that both you and I know – people judge other people by appearance and it’s not gonna change anytime soon.

    • MaryAnn C

      People DO treat you better if you look good. I was treated horribly when I was younger. I had a severe overbite and when puberty kicked in I gained a lot of weight.
      My parents didn’t want me to go through the surgery to fix the overbite like I begged them to because they, too, believed that you don’t need to alter your appearance to get people to treat you well-you should just be a kind person, etc.
      Lucky for me, my doctor told them I should get the overbite fixed because I would have nothing but problems when I got older so to fix it they had to literally break it (yes, it was THAT severe!) and wire my jaw shut for 8 weeks.
      That caused me to lose a lot of weight, too, and when my jaw healed I couldn’t get over how much better I was treated! When people spoke to me like a human being and actually had a normal conversation with me they’d inevitebly ask me why I wasn’t that nice before! When I’d say, “Um, I’ve always been this nice but you wouldn’t talk to me, you’d just taunt me” they usually didn’t know how to answer that.

      • meteor_echo

        Which proves again that a lot of people are hypocrites. They treated me the same (I was a chubby kid with a lousy hairstyle and enough pimples to make my classmates call me “pizza-face”). Now that I’m thinner, dress better and have a different haircut, they’re suddenly muuuuuch more nice. Eh, screw them.

    • MR

      Another good article. Yeah, skin deep.