Pygmalion and Galatea, Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, Dr. Frankenstein and the monster bride, and yes, even lovable nerds Gary and Wyatt and their uber-babe Lisa in the classic '80's teensploitation movie Weird Science. What do they have in common, you ask? Quite simply, what it boils down to is women (and a token monster) remade to men's specifications. The Swan is not much different. Spying Amanda Byram's entrance, I must admit she makes a lovely Igor. Tonight she's in another flattering chocolate colored halter gown, with a line of rhinestones accenting her decolletage. She mentions that there are only two slots in the pageant that remain to be filled and in file our assorted mad scientists.
Makin' Dreams Come True
The experts convene and take their seats with Amanda at the table and we are introduced to Sylvia Cruz, a 28 year old account executive from Chicago, Illinois. She's ambushed by the Swan crew while in the car with devoted boyfriend Michael. She's plainly overjoyed at receiving the good news. Sylvia explains that her cheerfulness is tested due to scars left over from her father leaving the family when she was a young girl. Her faith in men was dealt a further blow during her marriage to a man who gave up on her when she lost a child during pregnancy. What should have been a time for unification was instead the death blow to her relationship. She can't accept that Michael considers her to be a beautiful and vibrant woman. He mentions that there's no intimacy because she can't trust him due to her past heartbreaks. Additionally, Sylvia feels fat and ungainly next to her slimmer, prettier sisters. Truthfully, she's got a thick middle and heavy thighs. She's a classic pear-shaped endomorph. She's got huge ears that stick out of her head like jug handles and look out of place on her small head. She also hates the smattering of moles on her face and neck. Will Sylvia be able to give up her love of elotes, paletas, and other latin junk food for the sake of a sexy new self?
Trainer Debbie is positive she can help Sylvia undo all the binging damage with 6 days a week of intense cardio training in order to drop 30 lbs. Doctor Ianni wants to address her trust demons. Doctor Haworth plans to work his voodoo on her bland bone structure in order to give her a gamine and girly look. Dentist Sherri Worth deems her teeth too big for her face, and believes changing them will make her mouth shapelier and smaller. The complete makeover will entail a brow lift, cheek and chin liposuction, cheek implants, rhinoplasty, fat transfer to her lips, mole removal, and work on her ears. She's to have liposuction to 5 major areas of her torso, including her buttocks and thighs. Doctor Worth will give her Zoom bleaching, deep cleaning, gum reconstruction, Da Vinci veneers and braces as part of her dental plan. She's to go on the NutriSystem plan for weight loss as well as take part in some intense weight training. Therapist Ianni will offer some coaching and emotional life support with the aide of Nely Galan.
The panel now turns its collective attention to Marsha Middleberg. She's a 23 year old college student from South Carolina. You could call her the Invisible Woman. She lives the life of a non-entity, walking around campus with her eyes cast down, avoiding eye contact with fellow students. It's a shame she's suffering through what should be a highly social time of her life. The stories I could tell you about my college days! But that's for another time, friends. Marsha sees her large, shapeless nose and her weight as the banes of her existence. Worst of all is that she's very hirsute. That's fancy-talk for being as hairy as a Shih-Tzu. Marsha battles a daily five o'clock shadow by shaving (in a completely wrong manner, I might add) and tries to hide her arm hair with her clothes. She's been addressed as "sir" before, and it's devastating to her self worth. She relies on the Internet to find guys to talk to, since she can hide behind a monitor, but fears being alone with no real friends to socialize with. Can Marsha fulfill the potential that her parents see within her?
Doctor Ianni believes Marsha needs lots of healing in order to resolve her social anxiety and self-imposed isolation. Surgeon DuBrow says she's also very masculine in her appearance, and hopes that laser hair removal will alleviate some of the problem. Trainer Debbie is worried because Marsha has never set foot in a gymnasium and fears that motivation will be a big hurdle to overcome. Marsha's plan will include a brow lift, fat removal in the facial region, rhinoplasty, liposuction to the chin, lip augmentation, and some work on the eyelids. As for body work, she'll undergo breast enhancement, and liposuction to her abdomen, hips, and both inner and outer thighs. The dentist will give her Zoom bleaching, deep cleaning, and veneers to both her upper and lower teeth. She's to maintain a 1,200 calorie a day diet plan and work out in order to drop 37 lbs. Add to that her weekly therapy torture sessions with Ianni and her plan is complete.
Plastic Tubes And Pots And Pans
Both women arrive at the Glamour Grotto for their 12 weeks of reinvention. There's a shot of an actual check-in counter, much to my surprise. Now I'm doubly sure they book these ladies into a local La Quinta. Sylvia is still feeling like an ugly duckling in comparison to her siblings. She gets her sunglasses confiscated by the show thugs because of the potential reflective surfaces on the lenses. She snickers at it all, as do I. Marsha surely is worried that she won't be able to shave properly without a mirror. They read their welcome letters and settle in for the night.
Next day, and Sylvia heads off to consult with Doctor Haworth. He deems her breasts perfect and decides to leave them untouched. My jaw drops at the super-human restraint he shows at not fiddling with the boobies. He outlines his plan to lipo her body from under the breasts down to her knees. She'll be able to kiss her jello J-Lo butt goodbye. Speaking of gelatin, that's basically all she'll be able to eat, as he explains that the liposuction work does not mean she's got free reign to eat whatever she wants with impunity. He explains how he'll cut off some of her ears in order to minimize them and then he'll refine her facial features.
Marsha's first consult is with a dermatologist, Doctor Marina Arnold, who recommends a laser treatment for her hair problems. A nurse shaves her face and neck clean off all of the thick hair growth. An appliance is then used to treat the hair follicles with heat. She'll need about 6 treatments in total for the best results.
At the Dentist's office, Sylvia is told she'll need braces on her lower teeth. She finds it a bit silly but will grin and bear it. She jokes around and makes Doctor Worth laugh, which is just delightful. Usually the women are mortified at all the work and pain they are subjected to, but Sylvia remains bubbly.
Marsha has a quick weigh-in and is told that at 187 lbs, she's got to work hard to come down to her ideal 150 lbs. She'll achieve this with the NutriSystem plan of pre-portioned meals and strenuous workouts. She looks a bit morose at this piece of news. Doctor DuBrow calls her a "tall, big-boned girl". He makes her sound like a sasquatch. In order to refine her features he needs to narrow her nose and raise her eyebrows. Marsha tells him she wants nothing more than to call attention to herself, and with the full D cup implants he plans to give her, that shouldn't be a problem.
Bits And Pieces, Magic From The Hand
The time has come for the serious work at hand. In Doctor Haworth's lab, Sylvia get marked up by the minions, as he grandly exclaims that her ears "make a statement". I guess the doctors are back to acting like cads. He starts off with the lipo work, and then proceeds to remove some excess cartilage from her ears and then pins them back permanently. He then uses the cartilage left over from her ear surgery in order to rebuild the bridge of her nose. I bet Haworth clips coupons as well, that thrifty soul! Sylvia's left looking an absolute mess, with strange cheek appendages where she had her implants set in.
DuBrow gets to work his mojo on Marsha. After his assorted underlings Magic Marker her, Marsha gets her nose job, which removes the bump and leaves her with a refined tip. While suctioning out the excess fat on her torso, he comments that her procedure is work that men typically get done, not women. I'm glad she's under heavy sedation and can't cognate what's being said, because it gets worse. "Good things come in large packages!" DuBrow chirps as he capers about with her D-sized saline implants. Did he get a dose of laughing gas? Despite his scampering, the operations are a success. A few days later, Marsha is in positive spirits at her follow-up, though she looks like DeNiro's Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, after a few rounds. She gets cleared for Lasik eye surgery, which will further improve her looks and image.
Therapist Ianni schedules a session with Sylvia, in which they will role play and deal with her father issues. She pretends to berate her father for leaving and causing her to cling to men she treats as father surrogates instead of partners. A bit later, she gets a video and package from Michael. Luckily for her and the viewing audience, it's not dire news, as the editing had led us to believe. In his video Michael asks for her hand in marriage and he's mailed her the engagement ring. She's crying and nervous, still plagued with doubt as to whether she can love him as he so clearly deserves.
Marsha's problems are all gym related. She's clearly not used to the burn an intense work-out produces, and it makes her feel like she's about to drop. She's still got 22 lbs. to get rid of, so Trainer Debbie is not about to cut her any slack. Motivation comes in the form of Rachel Love Fraser, the original Swan pageant winner. You can groan, readers...I understand. Fame-hoing aside, Rachel is still pretty likable. She tells Marsha that she reminds her of how she used to be, tall,fat, ungainly, and unsure of herself. It seems to work for Marsha, as she seems determined to get over the gym heebie-jeebies and lose the remaining weight.
Sylvia gets further news from home, but this time it's not good. Michael's had some sort of accident. She calls home immediately and he picks up the call and tells her he was involved in a car accident. She worriedly peppers him with questions, believing he's holding back information in order to lessen her worries. He finally admits to totaling the car, suffering some trauma, and being on crutches for a while. She apologizes for not being there for him, but both agree she's to stay and complete the program. With the Reveal Ceremony looming, can she stay focused and regain her trust in men and accept Michael's proposal? Will her competitor Marsha blossom into her femininity and reach her weight goals? Let's find out.
My Creation...Is It Real?
The lovely Amanda makes her descent from the staircase and reminds us that it's been a long and grueling three months for the participants. Starting with Marsha, she asks the doctors for their opinions. They agree that she's no longer the Invisible Woman, but a lady who's ready to be noticed by the world. She wanted to lose her plainness and look distinctive.
The matched set of himbos throw the doors open and in comes Marsha. She looks simply amazing. I've commented on a few really good makeovers this season, but Marsha is the best one by far. In her underwear shot, she's slimmer but not stick thin. She looks healthy and radiant in a ebony layered bodice dress of a filmy material and sparkly brooch that sets off auburn hair that's layered and loosely styled. Finally we have a non-blonde! She's really statuesque and leggy in the thigh high skirt of her dress. As she takes in her reflection, she proclaims happily that she could get used to mirrors and is ready to go out, now! Amanda joins her and seems really pleased to share her ebullient joy.
The time to take a gander at Sylvia's metamorphosis approaches. The experts explain to Amanda how Sylvia now has harmony and elegance to her face, thanks to her diminished ears. Emotionally she has made huge strides in opening up her heart to love once more.
In she comes, looking decidedly blonde. Sigh. Well, not totally tow-headed, but with unflattering curly hair that is heavy on the blondish uplights. She's had most of her moles removed, but she doesn't really look all that different. She's clad in a satin black bustier top with a long dark blue skirt. The ensemble emphasizes her new petiteness. Gone is the bulky body, replaced by a sleekness that's very becoming. She's ecstatic over her appearance and shimmies around the front of the mirror panels, holding back her hair and exclaiming that she should have had an updo to show off her new and improved ears. Amanda had congratulated her on her engagement, and Sylvia has accepted love in her life again. Unfortunately, I suspect it's directed at Doctor Haworth, who she keeps hugging in undying gratitude.
It's a hard call to say with any certainty who gets to advance to pageanthood. Both women have improved their looks and lives by leaps and bounds. They enter the salon once again, and side by side their height differences are very noticeable. Marsha awaits the announcement looking beautifully serene, while Sylvia is nervous and jittery. Amanda really takes her time opening the envelope and reading out the name. To my utmost relief, it's Marsha who will compete for the sash and crown! Sylvia looks genuinely happy for her competitor, cementing in everyone's mind what a nice woman she is. Marsha remains calm but is probably in a state of shock. Sylvia says her farewells to the experts and Amanda with her omnipresent good cheer and is reunited with fiance Michael. She can finally admit to loving him without reservations. The rest of her family rush in and for once she can rightfully hold her head up proudly amongst her attractive sisters.
Marsha's still in a state of disbelief with Amanda. She's truly one of the most radical and lovely transformations on the show. Marsha's my personal choice to cheer on through the pageant in two weeks. But not to worry Amanda, I'm still hopelessly devoted to you!
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