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Welcome back to Jessica Simpson’s The Price of Beauty! Tonight we have our second leg of this race around the world – oops, wrong show – this journey into enlightenment, and we are headed for Paris, France, where thin is in! Incidentally, this episode is sponsored by Wendy’s on the Vh1 website. Mixed messages?In the car from the airport, Ken the stylist mentions that Paris is very chic. Everyone here seems chic. Hmm, whatever. I’ve been to Paris and that was not my reaction. I think I was more taken with notion that clothes don’t need to match or even make sense. But I wasn’t researching beauty or the fashion industry so… Jessica muses that maybe she’ll fall in love here in Paris. Well, if the fortune teller in the last episode was right, then maybe so! Jess looks out the window and tells us that French men are sexy. Then we get this shot as an example:
Well, okay maybe. I actually do remember being pleasantly surprised by how good looking French guys were. Why was that unexpected? I guess I expected large noses and weird mustaches. You know, a cartoon.
Straightaway we meet our Paris Beauty Ambassador. Hold onto your hat – she’s a fashion model. Just like the Thai Beauty Ambassador.
I look forward to the day we meet a Beauty Ambassador who actually has an interesting look – one I can’t find standing in the checkout line at the grocery store. Will it ever happen? Anyway, today’s Ambassador is named Rosemary and she’s tall, thin and basically perfect. Fascinating. She sits down with the gang at an outdoor cafe table to discuss her beauty. She began her modeling career at age 13, which is actually probably later than Jessica’s dad began shoving HER into the limelight, so save your sob story, Rosemary. America does child stars better than anyone.
Rosemary goes on to say that when modeling in Paris you have a contract that includes the weight and measurements you must maintain. The gang seems aghast at this shocking news, but I would imagine that’s the same with American modeling agencies. I mean, they’re paying you to look a certain way so wouldn’t that be part of your contract? Jess and pals dig into the pastries they’ve ordered while Rosemary nibbles on a shred of lettuce, telling them that this is the model diet.
Rosemary tells us that the real philosophy for the average French girl is la joie de vivre or the joy of living. Ah, so European, I love it. I assume, however, that this applies mainly to people NOT being prodded, measured and criticized for their job every day. American girls are too busy prodding, measuring and criticizing themselves for much joie de vivre. And according to Rosemary, it is this joy of living that brings confidence and makes you beautiful.
Next stop is a wine spa. This is actually just a day spa that somehow incorporates wine and/or grapes into every treatment. Seriously? This is going to unlock the mysteries of French beauty? Well Jessica knowingly informs us that in France everyone’s skin is glowing, so they’re going to try out this wine spa business. Jess, CaCee and Ken all get a massage performed with a round wooden stick, made of the same oak as a wine barrel. And this is supposed to be a breakthrough? That’s a stretch, Frenchies. There is also a grapeseed body scrub for CaCee and a soak in some wine-water for Ken. They claim that their skin is smooth and rejuvenated. I’m not convinced this is anything spectacular.
Later Rosemary brings the gang to meet a woman who is battling anorexia. Her name is Isabel and she has purple dots all over her face which are never explained.
She tells her story about deciding to become a model during her last year in high school then having a designer tell her she needed to lose weight, so bingo – she quit eating and became anorexic. And got lots of jobs. But almost died. See, I have a huge problem with the fashion industry. First of all, it’s ridiculous. I mean, I like to look at a pretty dress as much as the next girl, but besides red carpet functions (for which the dresses are probably donated anyway) who purchases these ridiculously overpriced concoctions? I’ve RARELY seen anything featured on a runway that would be worn in real life, and the girls who model them look absolutely sick. Plus the designers and their industry pals think that they are the most important people in the universe… for designing bizarre clothes! I realize it’s considered an art, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with it or think it’s as important as they think it is. And these young girls are literally killing themselves clamoring to be a part of it. It’s just bad.
Back to Isabel! Her lowest weight was 86 pounds, and no one ever said anything to her about being too skinny. They just kept hiring her. You know, reinforcing her disorder. Jessica is in tears because she knows how it feels to be criticized for her weight. What American girl doesn’t? I kid. Sort of. Jessica is careful not to wipe her tears away so that the cameras can get good shots of her empathizing.
Now Isabel is a crusader for anorexia awareness! She has pictures of her emaciated self that she handed out at Italian fashion week. It probably got her a lot of job offers. Seriously.
Well, good for her for trying to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. It’s a pretty disgusting industry – did I mention that?
The next day Jessica is on her way to model in a fashion show. I hope it doesn’t turn her anorexic. She says it’s intimidating because usually when she’s onstage she is singing, which she is confident about, but today she will just be showing herself for people to stare at. She goes backstage at the show and is immediately self-conscious being 5′ 4″ among a gaggle of 6-foot-tall grasshoppers. We meet the designer, Ozlem Suer, who no doubt thinks she’s saving the world, but who actually has some very elegant, reasonable looking dresses to show today.
Then we meet Alexandra Senes, the Art Director, who is dressed like an idiot and thinks she is very far above everyone and everything. She immediately tells Jessica that she’s not sure she’s going to keep her in the show. Jessica cracks me up (without meaning to) when she asks Alexandra if she made the outfit she’s wearing herself. Alexandra is like, “Uh no. It’s couture.” Okay, here’s where my previous thoughts come into play. It’s a powder blue skirt and jacket set with BALLOONS resting just inside the sleeves and hanging from the waist.
Nice try, but no. And calling it couture doesn’t change the fact that it’s impractical and stupid. And ugly. Jessica giggles to the camera that there are blue balls all over Alexandra. That about sums it up.
Blue Balls wants to test Jessica’s runway walk, so she tells her to walk with more personality than an actress. Jessica trudges down and back, of course wearing wonky huge shoes from her line. Blue Balls isn’t impressed. She tells her to try again, but don’t do obnoxious poses or exaggerated hip swivels. That crap may go down in the States, but not in Paris. Oh snap Miss J! Did you hear that??? Blue Balls doesn’t think you’re fierce!
She DOES however, teach Jessica how to “smize,” (smile with your eyes) which I believe Tyra Banks may have trademarked. She makes her go back and forth a few more times until she’s satisfied Jess can do it without embarrassing France.
Jess chooses a dress and Ken has to step in and poof out her hair and outline her eyes in record time so she matches the real models. Jessica is terrified and Ken and CaCee are terrified for her. The other models are staring and it’s suddenly time to go! Jessica nearly pukes, but she manages to come out on the runway, which after all that is only about 12 feet long!
She walks to the end, pauses, turns and walks back. The end. No American nonsense. Why is this hard again? Oh yeah, because you have to be freakishly tall and have an eating disorder. Even Blue Balls deigns to say that Jessica did great. So I guess now she has first-hand experience of what it is to be beautiful in Paris.
And to drive the point home, later we meet Rosemary at a photo shoot. Oh and Jess gets her picture taken too.
The photographer is Gilles Bensimon, whom I know thanks to Tyra Banks and Kelly Bensimon of Real Housewives of NYC. Gilles has been inspired by Jessica’s journey to do a photo shoot of “everyday women” like CaCee and Ken. Finally we meet Johanna Dray, France’s first plus size model. And she actually looks plus sized, not like the size four elephants that pass for plus size in America.
Jessica asks Johanna if anyone ever tried to bring her confidence down and Johanna says, “The world of fashion, especially in Paris, is a little snobbish.” Understatement of the century, Johanna. Why couldn’t she have been our Beauty Ambassador?
Jess tells us that in Paris she learned that confidence = beauty. La joie de vivre! I learned that I still think the fashion industry is silly and destructive and that Jessica and crew enjoy getting massages of all types.
I missed the preview for next week, but I’m hoping we’re going to veer off the beaten path and see some UNUSUAL ideas of beauty. That would be awesome! What do you guys think?
Thanks for reading!