A Film by Bernadette Wegenstein
and Geoffrey Alan Rhodes (2008)
In the age of surgically enhanced beauty and reality television, how do we perceive body image? MADE OVER IN AMERICA combines the style of reality television with experimental film to weave together the voices of producers and consumers, surgeons and their patients, clinical psychologists, media theorists, and youth who are coming of age in a culture where bodies seem to be customizable. Together they form a picture of how the desire for a better self operates within consumer culture and how this desire is fed by media, the makeover industry and culture at large.
Among those in the film are Cindy, a San Diego housewife who felt ugly all her life until she was made over in the first season of FOX's show The Swan, a plastic surgery makeover show; The Swan producer Nely Galan, who says she invented the show to empower women; Cathy, a 21-year-old college student who dreams of carving her own belly into a six-pack and her roommate's nose and bottom down to average size; Beverly Hills celebrity cosmetic surgeon and artist Dr. Randal Hayworth, who uses the metaphor of Michelangelo carving beauty from marble to describe his instinctual approach to surgery; and maxillofacial surgeon and beauty expert Dr. Stephen Marquardt, who has become famous for analyzing beauty according to a mathematically proportionate grid to which all beautiful faces conform.
MADE OVER IN AMERICA includes archival material on child development, actual plastic surgery procedures, art video and collage montages showing popular imagery, combined with powerful stories of how far Americans will go to fit in, showing the power of media in shaping ideas of beauty.