The plot of programs built around the "transformation" of heroines - the so-called make over show, is always the same. The show is approached by a hero or heroine who, for various reasons, wants to change outwardly. All available means are used - from innocent makeup to the wonders of aesthetic dentistry and even plastic surgery. Such shows are stubbornly criticized for stereotyped ideas about beauty and fashionable diktat of presenters and stylists. Often they not only do not solve the problems of their heroines, but also create new ones, convincing the participants of the conservative truth: a woman can conquer the world only when she is beautiful. But the programs are not losing popularity - people like to follow the stories of the magical transformation from the "ugly duckling" to the "beautiful swan", journalist Colette Welch wrote in a column on The Huffington Post. In addition, on-screen changes occur quickly - literally with the wave of a magic wand.
TEXT: Anton Danilov, author of the telegram channel "Profeminism"
The real boom of the makeover show happened in the 2000s. The most popular of those years were the BBC's 2001 What Not To Wear, America's Extreme Makeover on ABC, and Ambush Makeover on Discovery Channel. One of the most violent of its members was The Swan, which Entertainment Weekly called "the worst reality show in all television history." In this program, two women competed every week, but only one of them could go further in the competition. At the end of each season, the “weekly” winners were in for a kind of beauty contest, as a result of which only one participant received the title of “beautiful swan” and a mountain of gifts from the sponsor. During the transformation process, women were not allowed to look at themselves in the mirror, and one of them was even disqualified for breaking this rule. The plastic surgeons of the program often reshaped the contestants beyond recognition. One of the participants of "The Swan" Lorrie Arias (whose transformation is called one of the most radical in the history of the show) ten years after the recording admitted that she lives with depression, bipolar disorder, agoraphobia - fear of crowds - and body dysmorphobia - hatred of her own body … In addition, she gained her weight back and now hardly leaves the house, only occasionally meeting with the therapist.
In Russia, the first show-dressing appeared not much later. In 2004, on the STS TV channel, the project "Take it off immediately" was launched, which earned fame for the uncompromising presenters: Tasha Strogoy, Sasha Vertinskaya, Natalia Stefanenko. The girls mercilessly criticized the dressing habits of their wards, shredded their things right in the studio, and the especially "unsuccessful" ones were defiantly thrown away (with interruptions, the show lasted almost fourteen years on the air and was closed only in 2017).
In the process of transformation for women
were not allowed to look at themselves in the mirror, and one of them was even disqualified for violating this rule
In 2007, the premiere of the famous "Fashionable Verdict" took place with Evelina Khromchenko, Vyacheslav Zaitsev and Arina Sharapova as presenters. The popularity of the program was largely due to the success of the “court session” format, only in this case the judge, prosecutor and lawyer were not hearing criminal cases, but fashionable ones. Later, the place of the judge was taken by Alexander Vasiliev (Nadezhda Babkina acted as a defender).
The show, under his leadership, Finnish journalist Cherstin Krunvall devoted an entire column in Yle, calling the program misogynistic. “The heroines of the show are always very pretty. Apparently their only fault is that their husbands are unhappy, she wrote in a critical column for Yle. - But they are always wrong - that is, it is they who must change.Men look completely ordinary: they have thin hair or tousled whirlwinds; they are skinny or with a beer belly, they can be dressed in a tattered jacket or tracksuit,”she wrote.
Host Alexander Vasiliev responded to the criticism: “I do not blame this lady, I understand her perfectly,” said the fashion historian in an interview with MIA Rossiya Segodnya. - The Russian woman seems to her dangerous, not like her. In the West, many women have begun to play the role of men, they run businesses, hold positions in government - we are not yet at this level. And our ladies see the change in their appearance as a kind of springboard, this applies to both career and personal life."
In one of the seasons, the leadership of Channel One went on an experiment, putting the eccentric designer Andrei Bartenev in the chair of the stylist, who recommended that women wear what they want, showering them with compliments. However, soon Alexander Vasiliev returned to the show. And when the Domashny TV channel launched a benevolent version of the “Fashionable Vaccination” dress-up program with the host Svetlana Bondarchuk, the press greeted her with strong surprise. “She is so affectionate with the heroines, as if they are their own grandma,” wrote Komsomolskaya Pravda.
Modern Western shows do not rely on the wow-effect from "it was" - "it is", but on the human stories of their heroes
In 2012, TNT launched its own makeover show "Reload" - a psychologist was included in the hosts: according to the creators of the program, this helped to solve not only the "external", but also the "internal" problem of the heroine. And finally, in 2014 on STS there was a “dressing room” “To be in time in 24 hours” with the permanent presenter Alexander Rogov, which four years later turned into “Rogov. Studio 24 ".
Realizing the vulnerability of the format itself, modern Western show transformations are trying to get rid of stereotypes and imperative intonations, relying not on the wow-effect of “was” - “became”, but on the human stories of their heroes. Such shows even launch streaming services like Netflix, and many of them - such as the incredibly popular in the States and around the world “Queer Eye” - are on air for more than one season. The principle of this show is not to change or transform the hero outwardly, but to find out his real desires and create a comfortable space, be it a house or new clothes.
Russian counterparts are often limited to formalities: for example, by progressively inviting heroines with a variety of shapes to the studio, the presenters roll into recommendations like “this dress will adorn the hourglass figure”. We asked Russian stylists of dress-up shows about their relationship with the characters and whether their approach to filming changes over time.
At the "Fashionable Verdict", which for convenience we often called simply "Fashionable", I worked for two and a half years. This project is a huge colossus: there were about twenty stylists alone, but all of them, with rare exceptions, worked in pairs. The editors were looking for the heroines of the program, and as far as I know, they always had to be real, living people, and not actresses. The emotions we saw on the set cannot be faked.
The "fashionable sentence" is removed in pools: in three or four days we transformed 12 or 16 heroines, respectively - four a day. Usually one such pool fell out every two or three weeks, and the rest of the time was occupied by preparation for filming. We did not choose the heroines who needed to be transformed, they were assigned to us by the main stylist, focusing on the style of work of stylists, the style of the heroine herself, her size of clothes. We looked for clothes in a regular mass market like Zara, Marks & Spencer or Topshop, less often we went to showrooms - there clothes were more expensive. The concept was always the same: we made three images that were maximally different in meaning: the first, for example, could be business, the second - relaxed casual, and the third - a cocktail outfit.If, due to the peculiarities of the figure, we could not do something radically different in meaning, then we experimented with colors. When I just started working there, the budget for one heroine was about 80 thousand rubles, but then it was reduced to 60-65 thousand. It’s harder to work, because the prices in the stores didn’t go down, but went up. For women whose size was 52 and above, it was difficult to find cool things not for the price of a tank, in such cases we tried to resort to the services of tailors.
We were also squeezed by the production time of the program: often we only had one day to dress the heroine. We could start early in the morning and finish at the close of the mall. Such shopping with stylists turned out to be exhausting, so the heroines - some more, some less - complained of fatigue. In the process of selecting outfits, we did not discuss anything with them: their complete trust is an indispensable condition for participating in the program. A couple of times in my memory, the heroines expressed dissatisfaction, but in this case I said that she simply does not understand what the plan is in my head, does not see the whole image and therefore cannot evaluate it objectively. In addition, we could have had purely creative disagreements with a partner or, say, the main stylist: it seemed to us that the image was successful, but he could “wrap it up”. I had to redo it. "Fashionable Sentence" collaborated with various beauty studios: hairdressers and make-up artists performed the task set by the stylists.
A stylist on such a program is more than just a stylist, he must be a real psychologist. Some of the heroes are open to change, some are not very - and, in my opinion, the success of the transformation largely depended on their mood. I remember we had a heroine with her hair simply killed by cheap paint. When the hairdressers and I tried to figure out what to do with them, we came to the conclusion that the most logical thing would be to cut them off and repaint them in a beautiful chestnut shade. We got a kind of Audrey Hepburn, it was very beautiful. But the heroine, when she saw her reflection, was horrified. Of course, she didn't like the clothes either. I tried to treat such situations calmly, but it was still not very pleasant: you put a part of your soul into work, but they cannot appreciate it. But once I remember a really terrible case: one heroine (thank God, not ours) threw herself at the editor of the program with scissors in her hands, because she categorically did not want to cut her hair. By the way, there were no mirrors in the “magic room of stylists”, so what the stylists did with the heroines, they only recognized on the podium.
I believe that anyone who goes to a dress-up program is well aware that he can be expected there. The program has been running for several years and not even for the first decade - the concept and format are known. People who agree to be filmed should understand that on the recording they will definitely not be stroked on the head, but, possibly, will be "broken". The presenters can be tough, but this is just a television image and an element of the show. The heroes of the program have to either accept the rules of the game or not participate at all. It seems to me that they often go for such a strong "emotional shake-up": they need someone from the outside to evaluate their appearance and suggest what is wrong with him. As for the question “for whom the heroines dress up, for others or for themselves,” the answer to it always depends on the specific heroine. I saw several who really tried to maintain the proposed image for themselves after filming. But there was also the opposite example: a few months later, the heroine returned to the same hairstyle and the same style from which she left.
stylist and presenter
Our program is filmed in seasons, and we have eight heroines in one shooting pool. For each of them, we need to choose three outfits and a final dress - that is, only 32 looks, and I have only 10-15 days to find them.Each heroine has her own story, and for each I create my own solution, so about 50 looks are obtained during the fitting. Naturally, physically collecting all this for me alone is unrealistic. Now six to eight people are working on the release.
The most offensive thing is to cut off really cool images. Sometimes they turn out to be highly fashionable, but they are completely unsuitable for the heroine in terms of task and story. Therefore, we often disagree with the creative producers of the project. I stubbornly defend fashion and creativity, and they very rightly "put me on the ground." You cannot take all the trends into the program, our task is, first of all, to demonstrate useful and wearable images. We have one peculiarity in the fitting process: the heroine is blindfolded all this time so that she cannot see the fitted outfits. This greatly complicates and slows down the process of changing clothes. Do not forget that in our program, almost all girls undergo plastic surgery, and often the selection of things occurs after the surgery - and this is doubly difficult.
Sometimes the whole team admires the courage of our heroines, their endurance. There are girls who are happy and grateful to everything. It is very disturbing to work with them: it always seems that there is a catch somewhere. But it happens that from the very beginning they express their dissatisfaction: "it is inconvenient with a bandage", "tired of going shopping", "everything is wrong, and everything is wrong." Often they do not like the transformation, because it is not so easy to give up what you have worn for the last N years. But in most cases, when girls see something completely unusual on themselves, at first they get lost, do not know what to say, they themselves do not understand their reaction. They need time to get used to being new. They often say: "This is not me at all, I have never been like this, I do not recognize myself." But we must help them go through all the difficulties on the way to a new life, and often this is exactly how girls test our team for sincerity, perseverance, and patience.
Our producers often take girls with a non-model figure into the program in order to show by their example that anyone can dress beautifully, regardless of height and shape. For example, recently we had a heroine with a height of 191 centimeters and an XL size. Everything was simply short and short for her. And before that there were two girls with a height of 154 centimeters - here we were saving ourselves with the help of clothes from the children's departments. The principles of body positive say that girls can be beautiful in any weight and height and shape, but this does not mean that they should not take care of themselves. Our whole team helps them realize that they are beautiful if they learn to present themselves correctly. I personally teach the heroines to look fashionable and beautiful, regardless of physique and features of the figure and appearance. Our program instills self-love. And if a girl wants to do plastic surgery for this, then we give her such an opportunity. But we do not force or convince anyone to do surgical procedures. It all depends on the wishes and indications of the doctor.
I do not believe in the story “to become beautiful for yourself”, because any person is a social being. It is clear that every girl comes to our project not only for herself. She has a husband, children, friends, and someone has a future chosen one in their minds. They all want to be complimented, admired, loved, because the warmth from other people makes everyone happier and kinder. Most of the girls come to us with difficult stories, and we do our best to surround them with care and warmth. But there are also those who come for help, and on the set we understand that we do not want to make an effort. That's when we, the hosts, can be tough. We say openly that our program was created for those who want to get a chance for a better life, and not just new breasts and beautiful hair. As for the reaction of the heroines to our remarks, everything is also unpredictable. Sometimes girls are happy with every word and soak up every comment. It happens that they get into a pose and do not take a new one.Such denial usually means protection, but our task is to break through this protection by our desire to help.
We help those girls who come with a sincere story. After all, our program is not only about external transformation, but also about internal transformation. Therefore, we look not so much at the external data of the heroines as at their internal experiences. I do not believe that a new dress will save you from conflicts in the family or solve other problems overnight. Our whole team helps to plunge into a new life in a month and solve problems comprehensively. A beautiful image is a very important “icing on the cake”, a beautiful start to a new life, but it all starts with a desire to solve a problem. To be honest, after a while it is difficult for me to single out some of the most striking transformation, because we all turn out to be real beauties. But their stories remain in the memory.
Especially memorable are girls who have experienced unthinkable atrocities: violence, tragedy and loss. They come so wounded that our program is the only chance for them to start a new life. In such cases, I clearly understand the social significance of our program: we really change the lives of girls, and sometimes we save entire families. Our heroines often write us messages, share their successes, tell us how they live later, what has changed with them. And sometimes, when I come to different cities of Russia with lectures and master classes, they just come to see me. It is very nice. I see their changes and I understand that everything was not in vain. Of course, there are those that disappear after filming from our field of vision, but we try to believe that they have not returned to their past way of life and thoughts.
“Rogov. Studio 24 "
chief stylist of the STS TV channel, host of the show “Rogov. Studio 24"
Last summer, on my initiative, we closed "Catch in 24 Hours" and now we are working on "Rogov. Studio 24 ". They differ globally: "Catch in 24 Hours" was a standard makeover show where we transformed one heroine. Now we are working on a couple, so the new project turned out to be not really about fashion, but about relationships. These can be absolutely any couples: for example, a mother with a daughter, a mother and a son, a sister-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They always have mutual complaints about their appearance, but as practice shows, these complaints are just a screen for some deeper problem. It often happens that they come with one problem, and during the filming another comes up - and the one who considered himself right turns out to be guilty.
In the program “Rogov. Studio 24 "I combine several positions: I am a creative producer, a presenter, and a stylist. We shoot each pair in a day, and one shooting shift - one pair of heroes: we usually "motorize" at 7:30 in the morning, and finish around midnight. To do this, I need to wake up at 5:30 in the morning, which is not easy. This show can teach our country how to communicate: I believe that the inability to speak is the main scourge of our country. We teach to accept each other. We are different from standard makeover shows, we do not have a task to clog the airtime. We also do not set ourselves the goal of making a radical transformation for the sake of transformation. We have an individual approach to each character. By filming this program, we understand that the whole family can watch us, so there should not be black stuff, "marginality" and digging in underwear in it.
The main question that we are asked on social networks is: “What will happen to the heroes tomorrow? They will wake up, wash and become the same. " I don't think so, because the opportunity to spend one day in the company of passionate people is already life-changing in a sense. Often, our heroes raise such questions that they had not even thought about before, and some old grievances, fears, and experiences emerge in the studio. We follow the many couples who have gone through our project - and many of them have had their relationship changed. Once an ordinary couple came to us: a common-law husband and wife.He, of course, wanted his wife to dress sexy - and after the program she, already transformed, realized that he simply did not love her, and decided to part with him. Another heroine, who worked as a speech therapist, mentioned at the casting that she would like to change her profession and become a makeup artist. I asked Lena Krygina to do her makeup, and the heroine was incredibly happy with such a surprise. So, after filming, she got a job working in her studio. The third heroine wanted to open her own knitwear production - and now the clothes of my clothing brand Alexandr Rogov are sewn by her, she became part of our team. We have had mothers of children with disabilities, and as a person whose family also has a child with special needs, I understand how important a fashion shake can be for them.
We have a specific budget for clothes for heroes - 800 thousand rubles, which is allocated immediately to the shooting pool - this is usually five work shifts with a break a day. During this time, we are preparing 30 images - three for each character. One is then given to each of them. Heroes are looking for a casting department that works on my tip. They search in various places - on social networks, for example. In addition, there is a special questionnaire on the JTS website, and all applications are necessarily considered. The most interesting ones get to work. We assess the "chemistry" of the characters, whether they can communicate with each other in front of the camera, make claims. And, of course, as a stylist, I have to appreciate the "transformability" of the characters. If a couple has a cool story, but overall they are pretty and good looking, then the audience is unlikely to stay watching the program until the end. We never "disfigure" them on purpose, but the characters come to the shooting in the same outfit they came to the casting. It is their decision how they will look in front of us. We do not want to lead our heroes to some kind of standardized version - we start from their personal data, their own needs.
Naturally, I have an assistant, but I myself go shopping and collect all the outfits. Everything I do happens not only with an eye on the average audience - I understand that my show can be watched, for example, by a fashion magazine editor or one of my fellow stylists. And I don't want to be ashamed of anything. This system of work is my principled position, because I work with the characters in the frame, and not just comment on someone's choice. As soon as I turn into a talking head, I am gone.
I must feel the heroes, I must understand what suits them, which will help me visually transform them so that they change internally and understand what they can be. I do not like to deceive the audience, because they always feel fake.
PHOTOS: Channel One, STS, TNT