True Beauty is a new ABC show that attempts to show the meaning of inner beauty by judging ten stereotypically physically beautiful people on both their physical attractiveness and their inner beauty. In order to assess the competitor’s inner beauty the judges of this show set them up in “hidden camera” situations to see how trustworthy, helpful, kind, and compassionate they are in everyday life. While this show has noble aims it is, in my opinion, unfortunately quite superficial at its core.
In order to be up for elimination, where they are judged on their “inner beauty” the competitors must score the lowest in an outer-beauty competition. This sends the message that outer beauty is more important than inner beauty; if you are the most physically attractive competitor there is no need for concern about your insides; you are automatically safe. I’m sorry but, that hardly sounds enlightening to me.
Secondly, the hidden camera tasks that these people are being judged on are ridiculous. For instance, one challenge was simply to see if they would open a door for a man holding a lot of coffee… a door that they had to pass through. It doesn’t take a decent person to realize that the quickest way to enter the building would be to help the man; you’d have to be a pretty bitter person, a person who went out of their way to not help people, to ignore this man. Instead of seeing if the competitors would truly go out of their way to be good people, they simply see if they can function at the most base level of consideration.
In another challenge competitors were judged on whether or not they stopped and donated to an actor posing as a cancer fundraiser. However, in this same challenge they were not penalized for using their bodies to manipulate store owners into giving them free clothing. One girl even got a man to give her a twenty dollar bill… for no reason. While charity is an important value, I also believe that respecting people and giving them compensation for their work is highly important as well; beauty should not be a free ride.
What should have been conveyed: What the average viewer takes from this show is that “beautiful” people are held to different standards then mere mortals; if you’re beautiful enough you don’t have to be kind. This show has a possibly positive (if not a little superficial) statement that it could make. However, it fails to make that statement by valuing physical beauty over what’s inside and judging “inner beauty” by a very lax scale. The competitors should be judged solely on their inner beauty, or at the very least by that factor first, and the challenges should actually test their abilities to be giving and compassionate, not just affirm that they know how to be polite.
* As a side note, in the second episode challenge Nole Marin told a man that he wished he had “gone with a color more complimentary to his skin tone but, he was a team player and he went with his fabulous accessories” Those accessories, of course, being his female teammates. When did we revert back to an age where women are property?
** And another side note, later in the same episode one contestant, CJ, witnessed an actor fall off of a bike; they wanted to see if he would help the guy up. Instead of asking if he was okay, all-right, not hurt, etc… CJ continuously repeated “You straight man? You straight?” This is why phrases like ‘That’s so gay’ are harmful – we’ve gone beyond gay being used as a synonym for bad, now straight is a synonym for good in popular culture? It truly is an awful slippery slope… I wish they judges had deducted points for that. Truly beautiful people don’t demean others, not even indirectly.