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The concept for Caroline Flack’s new plastic surgery show is a new low for TV


by Jennifer McShane
20th Oct 2019
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Caroline Flack has confirmed she will be hosting The Surjury – a controversial new series where people pitch their “plastic surgery dreams” to a jury of people. Its very concept is dangerous, sending a message that we should essentially turn to such drastic measures to fix any flaws we have


Here at IMAGE, we believe do what makes you feel good. You have one life to live and why shouldn’t you do what gives you confidence?  However, a new TV show for Channel 4 takes that concept and exploits it, potentially preying on vulnerable people – all in the name of entertainment.

Related: Is Caroline Flack right when she talks about an “age gap?”

The show titled The Surjury, will see contestants appear in front of a 12-strong jury and attempt to convince them they are in need of plastic surgery, be it a breast augmentation or a facelift.

Exploitative 

First of all, the contestants are in a vulnerable place; they are so unhappy with their appearance they believe drastic measures are the answer and that by altering their appearance, their perceived problems will vanish.

According to producers, before a contestant gets the go-ahead, not only must they convince a panel of strangers, but social media gets a chance to weigh in as well.  “Our pitchers will either get the surgery they’ve always wanted, or a massive boost in confidence when the public rules they don’t need work at all!” said an executive producer of the series.

A “confidence boost?” 

But, what if they are not chosen and subsequently devastated? Or what if the affirmation from strangers that they are, in fact, in need of the surgery has the opposite effect and leaves their already fragile self-esteem in shreds? It’s a show where the worst possible outcome for the contestants is that they’ll go home upset because they still look like themselves.

Enticing those who perhaps could not afford plastic surgery with the chance of a free procedure is also wrong. Is councilling offered to those that participate? The mental strain of appearing on national television telling strangers that parts of you desperately need fixing will absolutely take a massive toll– how can this be deemed a confidence booster?

Related: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop accused of glorifying thinness over ‘lowest liveable weight’

In a world where we already have The Kardashians as a poster family for lip fillers and “perfect” looks (usually gotten via equally drastic and expensive means), the series seems to jump on that bandwagon, happy to use people to experiment with a concept that is packaged as home entertainment. And one where contestants must beg for attractiveness.

Whether you’re for or against plastic surgery isn’t even the issue. It just feels wrong to legitimise plastic surgery as a road to happiness. That’s what the show is doing. By taking a serious issue and trivialising it, it says to viewers that this is okay

How this got the go-ahead in a post-Jeremy Kyle world seems baffling.

Naturally, Twitter was unhappy, with Jameela Jamil clashing with Caroline Flack on over the outrage. The presenter insisted the show could be seen as a positive:

At the end of the day, nobody should feel they have to change how they look to be happier or more confident.

The fact that this show was given the go-ahead to get made is a new low – and just when you thought the bar couldn’t sink any further.


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Related: Love Island: Harmless TV or seriously impacting our self-esteem?

Related: Why I’m swapping ‘Body Positivity’ for a more chilled-out ‘Body Neutrality’