Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Power of Transformation

I am a sucker for a good makeover story. Is there anything better than the one about the overweight girl with glasses who puts herself on an exercise routine, gets contacts, and then ends up with the goregous guy who never really looked at her before The Change? (I seem to recall a particularly poignant Sweet Valley High story to this effect...anyone else an old Sweet Valley High reader?) Or the makeover that turns the frumpy, tired housewife to the va-va-vavoom beauty, revitalizing her marriage? How about the shy, reserved secretary who takes her boss by storm when she turns in her pumps and cardigan for heels and a little cleavage?

Change is the writer's stock in trade. Our characters must grow, find new ways to reach their goals, and transform by the end of story in order to give readers that sigh of contentment, the true happily ever after. But do people really change? Not just on the outside, but on the inside?

I think they do, and for whatever reason, it's often that external change than initiates the internal change. I had a little plastic surgery a few years ago. I know, TMI right? ;-) But seriously, I had a reduction of a part of my anatomy that most women seek to expand, rather than contract. After the surgery, I looked in the mirror and felt better about myself than I ever had before. It was crazy, but that external change fundamentally altered the way I showed myself to the world. I felt confident for the first time about my body, didn't fear attracting attention the way I once had, even laughed easier and enjoyed social events more because I wasn't wasting time worrying about the way I looked.

That kind of change ripples throughout your life. It can effect your job, your friendships, even your marriage. I have never regretted having that surgery, and I now enjoy a good makeover story even more because I know change is real.

So what about you? Have you ever had a real transformation? Or just a good makeover? How did it change your life? Or just your day?



Christine Wells said...

Inara, before I watched 'What Not to Wear' I would have been cautious about the idea that changing your appearance can really change your life. We're taught that caring about surface beauty is wrong, aren't we? But WNTW showed me that change can be effected from the outside in, perhaps because often, outward appearance can be a manifestation of the inner self (not in your case, but obviously, your appearance had a huge impact on the way you felt). I must admit, I've cried in quite a few episodes of that show because it was so touching to see women who had thought they were ugly, suddenly finding beauty in themselves. Good on you for having the guts to make the change and embracing it!

Anna Campbell said...

Inara, fantastic post! I love the thoughts the Bloggers are having. Last year, I was going through a difficult time in my personal life and one of the things that got me through was the Lifestyle Channel on Pay TV. These were programs I would never have watched previously - house renovations and cooking and makeover shows? Puh-leaze, give me a book to read. Yes, I was judging on prejudice alone, something I tell people not to do with romance. I do deserve a good slap!

One of the shows that became essential viewing for me was Trinny and Susannah's What Not to Wear. Do people in the US get that show? If you don't, it's two fashion journalists who still look like normal women (I'm sorry, if you look like Heidi Klum, you're in no position to tell short, dumpy moi what I should do to look better!) who take an unsuspecting individual and transform her by transforming her wardrobe. I couldn't tell you how often I found myself crying my eyes out at the end because of course, it was transforming the woman's life and it wasn't just the clothes. Often it was that someone paid that much attention to people who at heart felt unworthy and unloved. It was the fact that their friends and family loved the change and kept saying, "But this is what you used to be like." Often these people who were hiding from life emerged to discover that the world was a wonderful place. The expression of astonished joy on each face at the end was incredibly moving.

So yeah, I guess I'm a sucker for a transformation story too!

Anna Campbell said...

OMG, Christine! I can't believe we were typing almost exactly the same post at almost exactly the same time! You'll have to come and write my books for me - clearly I just need to channel a few thoughts in your direction!

Anonymous said...

How funny that you both posted about the same show!! I have seen it (my sister TIVO'd a few episodes for me, cause I don't get cable) and needless to say, I loved it. :-)

I think it's funny, as Christine said, that we're told not to worry about the outside, it's the inside that matters, and of course that's true. But on the other hand, we're human, and we can't help but measure ourselves externally as well as internally. Particularly when it comes to the complicated world of attraction, romance, and sexuality.

I doubt I would have had the surgery if it hadn't been deemed a medical, rather than cosmetic procedure. (Mostly cause I would never have shelled out the money!) Part of my transformation came from having less back, shoulder, and neck problems. I can run and workout now in a completely different way. But the way it changed me inside caused me to stop and rethink the way external change can affect an internal transformation...


Christine Wells said...

LOL I just checked back and read your post, Anna. We must have been separated at birth! And I think you're doing fine writing your own stories, but I could sure use a little help...

Did you see T&S now have a show where they do couples? Not sure about it, because they seem to be turning into relationship counsellors as well, which I don't think is their talent. The thing that made the earlier episodes so good, was that it was entered into in a light-hearted way, yet the results were so profound and moving to witness. Now, I feel they are aiming to achieve that inner/relationship makeover and it's feeling a little too contrived.

Yes, great post, Inara. It seems to be happening in so many aspects of women's lives. We are looking at a lot of pc dogma and thinking, but no, that's not how *I* feel. Thanks for sharing your experience!