I’ve been watching a lot of British television lately. I have gotten into Call the Midwife and Doc Martin recently. And I am about to start The Thick of It. I have always appreciated the dry, quick wit of our friends from across the pond. And the dramas have a way of making you actually care about the characters. But there is one characteristic of these programs that has really caught my attention and appreciation and is very much in contrast to American television – the casting.
If you turn on TV in America, you will see perfect teeth (likely veneers), size zeros, fake boobs, hair extensions, injected lips and so much makeup you would never recognize the actor without it. And pathetically, I am one of those weak-minded people who fall into the inferiority trap. I watch these shows and it somehow gets into my brain that I am supposed to look the way they do. But since I do not have the money or the balls to have surgery nor the discipline to starve myself – it is simply not possible. Because of this, I go through life feeling…well…ugly.
Cognitively, I know this is irrational. I know why they look the way they do. And I know that Americans have such an obsession with this contrived idea of beauty. Our media is the chicken and the egg. They have convinced a large portion of the public that we need to look a certain way and be a certain size in order to be attractive. And Hollywood perpetuates this by casting roles with actors whom are far from average. And while this happens with male roles, it is far more prevalent with females. We don’t blink when some geeky, short guy gets the “hot” chic. But do we ever see the chunky, average looking gal get the “hot” guy? Very rarely.
However, when I watch British programming, it is so refreshing to see regular looking people. All shapes and sizes. Crooked teeth, real breasts, very little makeup…they look like…well, you and me. How fucking fabulous it that? And sure, they have their super beauties too. I mean, those damn hot chics are everywhere. Even in Racine, believe it or not. So we cannot escape them completely. But while watching these shows, we get a much more authentic appearance sample of the actual public.
I don’t know many people from England. But I have to wonder if they have body image issues to the degree that we do. I’d be willing to bet they do not.