October 21, 2004 -- A woman who was severely burned in a childhood accident will be among the wannabe beauties in the latest edition of Fox's con troversial makeover show, "The Swan."
In the show, contestants go under the knife — but are not allowed to see themselves for weeks. Later, they compete in a sort of plastic-surgery beauty pageant.
Usually the plastic surgery is cosmetic but, in a sharp departure for "The Swan," this year the show will be giving some contestants reconstructive surgery.
"This year we have some trauma victims," says the show's creator, Nely Galan. "In the first episode, we have a girl who was burned in a fire over 70 percent of her body. She looks gorgeous [after the makeover]. She might win the pageant."
The burn victim, Jennifer, described as a 30-year-old homemaker and mother of three from Mesa, Ariz., was severely scarred at age 6 in a house fire. The burns drove her to a life of shyness that she hopes to overcome with "The Swan's" radical makeover-by-scalpel-and-shrink regimen, according to Fox.
Among the other "Swan" candidates are a rape victim, a woman with severe periodontal disease and another who is virtually deaf.
The show's new season begins Monday night.
An outspoken critic of "The Swan" said he has no problems with the show reaching out to a burn victim.
"There's nothing wrong with combining cosmetic and reconstructive procedures," said Dr. Paul Weiss, an Upper East Side plastic surgeon and spokesman for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "They often go arm-in-arm in techniques and principles. That's not an ethical problem."
Still, Weiss said he doesn't support the show because it portrays cosmetic surgery as a cure-all for personal problems.