Greetings, beloved readers! I’m so excited to be recapping a brand new show! No more fluff for me this time around, thank you very much. Today we embark on an existential journey of epic proportions together. A journey that will take us to the very depths of the human soul. For this purpose we need a very special host. One who understands suffering and longing. One who seeks to know more.
“Let’s go, bitches!”
Jessica Simpson is ready to throw herself back into the spotlight! The most we’ve heard about her lately is that from time to time she wears very unflattering jeans causing the media to speculate on whether she’s gained a ton of weight, or just has a careless stylist. Also that John Mayer thinks she’s dynamite in the sack. My favorite memories of Jessica are of course her “Newlyweds” days, when watching her try to run a washing machine could entertain me for hours. I don’t know what it is about her that is so addicting, but I would always marvel at how completely clueless she was, but still somehow endearing.
This is someone who has been absolutely pampered and can barely do anything for herself, but she seems completely unaware that this is not normal. And now she’s back, on a worldwide tour to explore different notions of beauty. As someone whose looks are at least 90% of her bankability (well, it’s a word now), she is a likely candidate for this mission. It will also be interesting to watch her observe people who do things for themselves and even manage to come out somehow – gasp – beautiful! I predict that a lot of things will surprise her, but that she’ll end up the exact same appearance-focused spoiled girl she’s always been. I mean, she values her career, right?
“What do you mean, no makeup?”
We open with a re-introduction to our hostess, Ms. Jessica Simpson, who tells us that while she lives a very blessed life, her looks are always under scrutiny. Women are always under so much pressure to be beautiful, but what defines beauty? That IS an interesting question. Every society at any different period in history defines beauty in its own way. These days we are so globalized that it seems like the Western standard of beauty is fairly universal, but obviously this can’t be true everywhere. I, for one, would like to know what some other cultures consider beautiful so I can move there and become a supermodel. And no, that’s not a flawed plan, why do you ask? Anyhoo, Jess is going to travel the world to discover what different things make women feel beautiful. She’s bringing her friends Ken and CaCee (pronounced Casey, but spelled like a hillbilly). Now CaCee I remember from Newlyweds. She is a friend Jessica grew up with, but Ken, on the other hand, is Jessica’s hair and makeup guy. This is one of the modern-day celebrity phenomena: best friends = paid servants. Strange and rather sad, but Ken is getting an all-expense paid trip around the world, so he wins (this time). Ken is gay, so he’ll have a bonus view on the whole beautiful thing. Genius, Vh1. Jessica says she’s doing this in order to find beauty for herself, but as I mentioned, I doubt she’ll come home from this, lay Ken off, find a guru and live off of her inner beauty. But it will be fun to watch anyway.
I love how on the publicity shot for this, we see four different versions of what is considered beautiful IN AMERICA. Any one of these girls could be on the cover of Seventeen, give me a break. Let’s see some freak shows. Pointy teeth? Tribal tattoos? (And I mean actual tribal, not Hot Topic tribal.)
We touch down in Bangkok, Thailand. This should be quite different from America, no? Jess is wearing 5 inch spiked heels, no doubt some product placement for her shoe line, but definitely NOT practical for worldwide exploration. She wobbles over to a spa with her friends to experience an honest to goodness Thai massage, which is supposed to be good for circulation and skin. Okay, I can (sort of) see the connection to beauty here. This could be considered part of a regimen. Jess and Ken sign up for a couples massage and it turns out to be very involved, with knees jammed into various pressure points, joints cracked, muscles stretched and bent – and this is all done by tiny Thai women with brute strength.
See how calming this is?
More painful than relaxing, but this is The Price of Beauty, after all! Jess tells us she was under the impression that Thai massages had happy endings, and she wonders where hers was. I think that’s a completely different investigative show, Jessica.
And so with glowing skin and great circulation, the gang heads off to meet their Thai Beauty Ambassador. You see, at every stop on this journey, we will have a Beauty Ambassador to teach us what is considered beautiful in their culture. Here’s our first one:
“Welcome to the foreign world of Thai beauty.”
Wow, that is SO different from what is beautiful in America, this has really opened my eyes. This is Sonia Couling. A model – No! – and host of Thailand’s Next Top Model. Okay, so she’s Thai-ra Banks. What brilliance does she have to impart? She starts by showing us the Wang Lang Market, where Thai girls from every walk of life shop daily. They look at some jewelry, which Thai-ra explains is Buddhist, symbolizing beauty from within, and Thailand is 95% Buddhist, so that is important to know. So is Thailand’s Next Top Model a meditation contest or what? Jessica gets her fortune told, which doesn’t seem to have much to do with beauty, but the guy tells her that she’s going to find a special love, so that’s totally exciting. As they continue to wander, Thai-ra takes them to a food vendor who specializes in crispy insects! Yum! We have fried worms, crickets and cockroaches! A little blurb pops up to tell us how nutritious insects are, so this is very important to keep your hair and nails looking superb. Thai-ra also says that eating insects will help to burn fat and detox. So will herbal tea.
As if Jessica has real hair and nails.
CaCee and Jessica manage to choke down a couple of fried worms, telling us that slime squirted out of the middle and that they could feel the hairy little leg-things on their tongues. Both of them go into convulsions, causing passersby to wonder what is going on with these beautiful blonde American girls.
“I did the same thing when I first tried a Big Mac.”
Enough of that, now Thai-ra wants to show us some Thai skin products. She stops at a skin care stand and points out the whitening cream, explaining that in Thailand, pale is beautiful because tan skin indicates that you’ve been out working in the sun. This absolutely blows Jessica’s mind. She’s like, “But in America you try to be tan… it’s the complete opposite for us!” Hard to grasp, isn’t it? It’s true though, I’ve watched Toddlers and Tiaras. Thai-ra goes on to say that the whitening cream can be very dangerous and destroy your skin over time. Hmm, so can tanning. I guess you just can’t win. She takes us across the street to a cafe to meet a friend of hers whose skin was destroyed by the unregulated Thai skin care products. This is actually really sad – this lady’s skin is totally blotchy where the cream has bleached all the pigment away. She used to be a singer, but since her skin was destroyed she’s too embarrassed to appear in public (but not on TV apparently). Also her husband left her when her skin went wonky. What a guy. So from this we learn that men are shallow in every culture – which is probably what drives women to search for… The Price of Beauty.
“Don’t cry, sweetie. I’M still beautiful!”
Jessica is very touched. She cries a little and feels guilty for being so superficial.
In order to concentrate more on INNER beauty, we head to a monastery to meet with a Buddhist monk and learn how to meditate. The monk explains that when your mind is deep in meditation, your body and skin will glow. What about sleeping? I’m good at that and it’s quite relaxing, so I wonder if I glow while I sleep. Maybe your mind has to actually be working. The monk leads them in meditation and pretty soon it’s been 40 minutes and Jessica just can’t concentrate any longer. She starts snickering and then breaks out in a giggle, completely offending the monk and ruining any glow she might have achieved.
“This chick is SO not inwardly hot.”
It’s time to leave Bankok and head out into the jungle to visit a tribe of women who wear rings around their necks to elongate them. Oooh, how National Geographic. This isn’t unique to this region, so maybe there’s something to it! Part of this journey is made riding on an elephant’s back, and Jessica is once again modeling her ridiculous heels. She tells us with wide eyes that it was very empowering to ride the elephant because she felt very “high up.” That’s deep, Jess.
We arrive at the village and are greeted by three women with long stacks of rings around their necks and very colorful headdresses. I can’t help but notice that not one of them is wearing high heels. Now we’re getting somewhere! An alternative path to height!
“Our feet never hurt and we don’t get bunions!”
Various women have varying stacks, some with only two or three rings, and others with up to 20 or more. One of the women explains that when little girls are five or six years old if they want the rings, they tell their mothers and they begin wearing them. Kind of like getting your ears pierced I would imagine. The little girls don’t have to get the rings if they don’t want them, but most want them because they are beautiful. They explain that the rings are very heavy so that they push down on your shoulders, which also makes the neck look longer. Not much weirder than high heels, I’d say, and not even close to as weird as getting toes surgically removed so that you can cram your feet into your high heels.
The gang is invited to stay this evening and celebrate, which includes choosing which pig will be roasted for dinner. Then we meet little Chum-Chum, who has decided that she would like to begin wearing her neck rings, so we get to see her being fitted with this huge metal coil that gets wrapped around her neck.
“I’m so going to tweet this.”
It’s actually very sweet, like a rite of passage that makes her feel beautiful and special. One of the host ladies offers Jessica and CaCee these pieces to wear around their necks to get the idea of how the rings look and feel. It’s kind of cheating because it’s just half rings with a tie in the back, but I guess it would be impractical to really get the rings put on. They also get headdresses and Ken keeps saying how amazing they look, so the ladies finally offer him some practice rings for himself. Then they giggle because men don’t ever wear the rings. There must not be many gays in this village. For dinner they eat the pig, but refuse to try the frogs. Too bad.
The Karen tribe bids farewell to its first tranny.
Jessica tells us that she has a lot of respect for the reserved inner beauty that she witnessed here in Thailand.
Like our demure Thai-ra.
She also learned that tradition plays a large role in beauty. I really liked the little village because it’s so different from the American perspective of beauty. The women honor their traditions and wear bright fabrics to feel beautiful. It’s very simple and sweet.
Next week – Paris. Okay, this will be a close look at Western beauty, I suppose. I’m not sure it will be extremely enlightening, but we do meet what appears to be an anorexic woman, so that should be interesting. Also, Jessica will walk a runway, which… who cares? What pearls of wisdom will she share after that life-changing experience? See you then!
So what do you think of this show? And our gal Jessica?
Thanks for reading!