There is a part early in the article where Weber mentions a positive aspect of this makeover culture. She says that it is the “assumption that women rightfully belong to the collective citizenry, provided they are willing to transform into signifiers of that citizenry’s values.” While I don’t disagree with the point Weber is making, I question whether that’s really a positive aspect of this very problematic phenomenon. Even if it is suggesting that women are belonging to this citizenry, why is that a good thing? This collective citizenry is one that endorses a makeover culture and a very specific type of beauty, as Weber states in the article. It is a “racially normative” woman who “participates in consumer culture.” This is not the culture that we should be striving to be included in, surely, but rather we should be working towards a radical reworking of the current system that we are oppressed under.
Another thing that I questioned about Weber’s argument was the target audience for these makeovers. While it might be true that the audience is “white, female, working class, middle-class and middle-aged bodies,” I think that it is important for Weber to mention form the beginning that the affect is far reaching. The trope of the teenage girl makeover is a very prevalent one, and something that I’ve though about for as long as I can remember. There is a scene in the movie Clueless where the characters Cher and Dionne give Ty, the new girl in school, a makeover. After the makeover, Cher is noticed by guys and becomes so popular that she ditches Cher and Dionne, the people who ‘made’ her this way.
As a pre-adolescent and teenager I dreamed of having a makeover like Ty in Clueless. Like Weber discusses, the subject of the makeover becomes a “citizen” (usually of the US, or wherever the show is based) and in Ty’s case this means a citizen of the popular crowd at the high school. While she is white, they encourage her to change the way she speaks, fitting her the tropes that Weber discusses—a “racially normative” person of the correct class, which in this case is upper-middle class. As a citizen of the popular crowd at the high school, Ty also becomes someone who talks down about people whom she liked before the makeover. Getting the makeover creates a version of Ty that is not her true self. As Weber states, “After-bodies are not simply distinctive from Before, they are different from all other bodies in a plurality that has not (yet) undergone a makeover.” Something is being projected onto these people as the way that they should be, and suggests that changing the outside look of a person changes everything about them. Your appearance is not only malleable, but the definition of yourself. This is true for Ty, to an extent. While much of her makeover seems to stick, by the end of the movie she has realized how poorly she has acted to the people around her, and is dating the guy who (after the makeover) she deemed a loser and not worthy of her time. This further exemplifies the malleability and way makeovers can easily be retracted or reversed.