I recently had the opportunity to exchange email with Karen Richardson who was the Lovely Bride on Extreme Makeover Episode Four. What follows are the questions fansofrealitytv.com posed and the answers that Karen so graciously provided.
Q:What did Blake say after the wedding, when you had a chance to be alone?
A:The wedding started at 5:30; Blake and I were not alone until 9:30 when we were on our way out of town. At first, he stared quite a bit. In fact, I would wake up in the middle of the night and he’d be sitting there, staring at me. From time to time, he would take my face in his hands and study the details. I told him to give the new look three or four days, and he’d forget how I looked before. Sure enough, the first three days, it was like old times. Blake has not missed one day telling me, “You sure have a pretty nose.”
Q:Have you gone on the honeymoon yet? If so, was it all that you dreamed of? Would you be interested in sharing any pictures from Jamaica?
A:Blake and I honeymooned in a cabin in the woods on Petit Jean Mountain in the hills of Arkansas. The seven-week separation made for a real honeymoon experience. I was as nervous as a virgin . . . all those new body accouterments. We have a year to take the Jamaica trip; I think it would make a great first anniversary present.
Q:How have your friends and coworkers responded to your new look and the positive attitude that goes with it?
A:Friends and co-workers have been nothing but supportive. I have received nothing but positive responses. I’ve been told I have “a new swing” in my walk and that I smile more. I’ve also been told over and over, “You look different but you haven’t changed one bit.” That must have been a concern for some.
Q:Have you noticed the general public reacting to you differently than before?
A:In public, some people walk right up to me and start a conversation. I personally like that. It’s the whispering and pointing that bother me a little, but I realize it’s probably shyness on the part of others. I enjoy talking, so I never mind a good running conversation.
Q:Has anyone had a negative response to your transformation?
A:I have had no negative comments made to me in person concerning the makeover. I have read a few negative comments on the Internet. Those comments thus far are based on partial or inaccurate information, which I resent especially when the jabs are toward the physicians or medical care I received. I got the best of care; as a registered nurse I know the difference.
Q:What was the most painful part of the process?
A:The most painful physical aspect of the transformation was the nausea, which for me, is an expected response to anesthesia. Followed by that was the discomfort of the forehead lift which was minimal. I took only Tylenol post-operatively. Psychologically, being away from Blake wasn’t easy, but I knew the seven weeks would end and I’d get to live the rest of my life with the love of my life. Who could ask for more?
Q:Which do you see as the most dramatic change?
A:For me, the most dramatic change of course is my nose; it is the part of my face I disliked for many years. Not wearing glasses is a close second. Blake believes the eyes are most changed; many people have commented, “I never noticed you have blue eyes until now.” Adam liked the whitened teeth best; Brett liked the new hair color and style. Several co-workers wanted to see the boobs. Everyone likes something different.
Q:Was it hard to deal with the cameras when you were recovering and perhaps not feeling so well?
A:Amazingly, the cameras never, ever made me nervous, even from the very start. This is odd, considering I shied away from photos my entire life. Even when I wasn’t feeling my best, the presence of the camera crew never bothered me at all. Maybe part of that attitude stems from being a nurse. Whether the cameras were off or on, I just kept right on being myself. In fact, I recently saw photos of the wedding. I couldn’t believe all the cameras that were there; I never noticed a one of them! I guess I was really focused on the prize.
Q:What are some behind the scenes things we didn't see?
A:Many, many hours of footage exists that no one will ever see. Behind the scenes, John, Sandy and I shared a special friendship; we were known as “The Three Musketeers”. We made the best of every moment, regardless of the circumstances. In fact, both John and Sandy attended the wedding. They are seated on the groom’s side on one of the front rows. John personally made the bridal bouquet and brought his family from Kansas to meet Blake. Sandy’s flight home was changed (courtesy of the Extreme Makeover producers) to allow her attendance; that act of kindness meant so much to me and to Sandy. The three of us keep in contact, talking at least weekly so far. Also, I can honestly say the production crew, from highest ranking down, was always considerate of our needs and concerned for our personal comfort and recuperation. Not only that, efforts were made to take us out sight-seeing, shopping, or to a movie from time to time. I couldn’t have been treated better.
Q:What is the biggest lesson you have learned from this experience?
A:The most important lesson I learned from this experience is. . . if there is an aspect of your appearance that really, really bothers you, don’t be afraid to take steps to alter it. . .and above all, don’t feel guilty about wanting to do something for yourself. I now look at it this way: I’ve spent time and money having dings on my car repaired because I didn’t like how the thing looked dented up. The car didn’t run better or use less gas, but by golly it was more visibly appealing. So why did I question myself with the psychoanalysis mumbo-jumbo to the tenth degree? Who knows? All I really wanted was a nose job; I should have gotten one years ago. I am happy by nature, I was happy before I went to Hollywood, and I am happy now. The only difference is I am a-liking what I see in the mirror every morning.
Q:Have you changed how you buy clothes?
A:When I got home and settled, one of the first things I did was clean out the closet. None of my pants fit, being a size or two too large; some of the more frumpy stuff had to go. I have purchased only a few new things; they are brighter, tighter, and younger looking. Blake approves.
Q:What do you hope the viewers of this show get out of seeing your story?
A:I sincerely hope that those who watch episode #4 see a woman who is truly thankful for the experience of a lifetime, the opportunity to be a pretty bride. After all, that’s all I every really wanted.
I hope I didn’t ramble too much. I love writing, and talking. . . obviously. In fact, I kept a daily journal of the entire makeover experience.
Thanks for the opportunity to share a small part of my story.
The Bride from Extreme Makeover
I would like to thank Karen for taking time out of her busy schedule to share her Extreme Makeover experience with fansofrealitytv.com.