What would motivate a wife and mother to leave her family for three months to be madeover so that she can compete in a beauty pageant on Fox's The Swan? What would cause a twenty-one year old college student to undergo plastic surgey in an attempt to look more like Brad Pitt on MTV's I Want a Famous Face? What would drive a woman to expose herself and her fashion sense to public ridicule on TLC's What Not to Wear?
But all of this does not merely happen to a few on television. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2003, nearly 9 million Americans had cosmetic surgery performed upon them. In 2003, more than $8 billion was spent by people receiving cosmetic surgery.
Underlying the Extreme Makeover and plastic surgery craze is a belief that external beauty will be the key to unlock a life of happiness.