The Problem With Makeover Shows

Are makeover shows bad for our psychological and emotional health?

We’ve all seen them: Makeover shows that take a hapless fashion victim from drab to fab, from hopeless to fabulous. One moment she’s got no clue, the next she’s dressed to the nine’s, shiny and new, in heels (almost always) and a short dress (most of the time), hair and make-up RuPaul would be chartreuse with envy about, and sass to her step that’s replaced a slouch and a shuffle.

So, what’s not to love?

Weeeeeellll…. Quite a bit as it turns out.

Are You Not Entertained?

First let’s start with the obvious: Television makeover shows are about entertainment. They are not about improving anybody’s life or making the world a better place. Sure, if a contestant’s life is changed for the better, that’s all fine and good, but it isn’t the aim of the game.

The aim of the game is to entertain the audience and have them glued to the show – not flicking over to the competition (or to any other screen at their disposal, including the handheld, the mobile, and the plugged-in versions).

And one way that television shows keep us glued to the end is by amping up the drama, increasing the spin, and evoking emotion of almost any kind; tears and tantrums are of course especially watch-worthy.

This is the truth about television. It isn’t evil or bad necessarily, it’s just the reality of it. When you understand this, you take what you see less literally. You take it with a grain of salt and recognize that even though it may be “reality” (which in TV Land translates to “unscripted”) doesn’t mean that the show isn’t following the same dramatic arcs that any scripted television show follows.

Value-Free Zone

Apart from the true purpose of the show (to entertain us – irrespective of any other feature or benefit), a key gripe with makeover shows is how little they understand personal values. Personal values are the things we hold most dear, and even contestants on makeover shows have them.

Personal values are important because they shape the worldview and control the choices people make, even if the person holding those values isn’t entirely conscious of them – they certainly know when their values are violated.

Makeover shows pay scant, if any, attention to the values of the woman being made over. Who cares what she feels or thinks about the billion-dollar fast fashion and beauty industries? Who cares what she thinks or how she feels about spending an excessive amount of time on her outer appearance? Who cares what she thinks or how she feels about high heels, hair gel, haute couture? It simply isn’t part of the makeover show equation (or if it is, it’s because it creates more drama and tension because she’s “resisting” the makeover).

Makeover shows are about the outside and making this drab woman look ‘fab’, regardless of her principles, beliefs, values, and perspective about all this image and fashion stuff.

It’s Simply Not Practical

Another key protest about makeover shows is how impractical the makeovers are. Women with two small children, who spend their days getting in and out of SUVs with prams and other accoutrements for the small ones, are popped into sky-high heels and short skirts which don’t allow them to bend, sit, squat, lift, shove, or move with any freedom or dignity.

Women who work full time in interesting and often important jobs requiring their full attention and brain power are made over with hair and make-up styles which take hours to achieve, which if they were to attempt to replicate on any kind of regular basis would cut into their daily routines to such a degree they’d be getting up at 3am to get it all done before the workday began.

Hair and make-up is so often “full glitz” (to borrow from the world of pageantry), an effect which takes hours upon hours to achieve. Not something a busy mother, or a working woman, or anybody who has many other things to attend to besides their image for hours at a stretch, could achieve every day.

These looks, whilst undeniably glamourous, are so high maintenance and time consuming that they are rendered utterly impractical for most psychologically healthy and emotionally well balanced women living on planet earth.

What's the problem with makeover shows? Read to discover!

Ignoring What’s Innate

But the biggest indictment of makeover shows is how the outer expression has no connection to the inner essence of the woman being made over.  Sometimes there’s an extra shove in the form of “evidence” of how poorly their image is impacting their success in life (in whatever sphere they are most vulnerable around, whether that’s career, relationships, money…) – but this isn’t a connection to the woman’s inner self, it’s an additional maneuvering (if not manipulation) designed to have her comply with the makeover.

Here at 16 Style Types, we help women connect (or reconnect) with their inner essence. That’s what your Style Type is and does – it describes your innate approach to style, based on your personality preferences. It goes deep, to the essence of who you are, and what makes you uniquely you.

Sure, how you look factors into the equation – we often say that style expression follows style essence. Style expression is the natural progression of understanding and embracing your inner stylista, and when you approach your style in this way – with things in the right order – the expression part becomes so much easier, it flows in a natural way, and you feel strong in your style choices.

This is also the reason the 16 Style Types team includes international award-winning style blogger and image consultant Imogen Lamport, whose globally popular and influential blog is called Inside Out Style. Focused on smart sustainable style solutions for intelligent women, Imogen’s approach recognizes the power of personality to influence a woman’s style direction and make her feel her most stylish self.

Authentic style is an individual journey and includes how you look AND how you feel and what you think about how you look.

This is the crucial element makeover shows miss entirely. They don’t get that the how you look piece, when disconnected from who you are including how you feel and what you think, is empty, meaningless, crude. The exquisite beauty of a woman who wholly inhabits her style from the inside out is missed when all that’s focused on is the outside.

So what’s to be done?

So if you find watching makeover shows entertaining, binge on! But here are a few grains of salt to consider, whether you’re munching popcorn while you view.

Spare the compare

If you’re tempted to compare yourself to the glam results, recall to mind Jamie Lee Curtis’s pulling back the curtain on the tricks of such makeovers by being photographed as her natural self.

All is definitely not what it seems or is being made out to be.

Do your own dreaming

Dream with your own lifestyle and needs in mind, not with what others are selling you. For example, we now know that high heels are a medical disaster in the long run. Women used to faint when they wore corsets.

What mistruths, misdirections, or downright lies are the fashion industry conveying in what you’re watching? That any wrinkle, pimple, or bulge discounts your value instead of showing your character? That women are ornaments for others?

It’s true that there is a correlation between looking good (authentically) and feeling more confident and this is important; how we look matters, we’d be the first ones to say so.  It’s also true that all of us source some component of our feelings of self-esteem in how we look, but where’s the balance? What is really important?

Make choices that align with YOUR values

Consider the values YOU want your style to shine light on. Warmth? Creativity? Practicality? Thrift? Intelligence? Can you see how different each woman’s true style essence might be?

If this idea intrigues you, or you need help with this, we stand by at 16 Style Types to hold the light and make your next makeover one that will have a lasting impact on your most stylish self.

©2024 16 Style Types


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?