Monday, November 5, 2012
The Transformative Power of Transformation - by Cici Kitten For Suddenly Fem
I don’t watch a lot of reality television (unless you count sports which is, I guess, a form of reality television), but a lot of other people do. The networks love reality tv because it has no stars and it’s inexpensive to produce. But they love it even more because audiences watch these programs in droves. An inexpensive program that nobody watches is still a bomb. But many of these shows are huge hits.
And it’s no surprise to me. You can say that the people on the shows are after nothing more than fame and money. And you’d be right. (But hey, aren’t we all?) Of course the millions of people who tune in each week don’t get any of that. No fame. No money. No consolation prize.
But they do get a front row seat for something pretty amazing. Transformation. Or more correctly, the transformative power of transformation. Pick any reality show and I think you’ll know what I mean.
On talent shows like “X Factor,” “American Idol,” and “The Voice,” you can see people’s lives transformed every night. Even if they don’t win – and most don’t – they get their moment in lights, they get some coaching from famous mentors, and they get to thank their parents, family, and friends from the national stage. And they leave… transformed.
Now for some, there are awful, embarrassing moments. Moments that they’ll never forget. In a bad way. But for the majority of reality show participants, they get a crash course in whatever their field is (cooking, dancing, modeling, designing clothes), and they leave the show a little wiser and a little more aware of what the real world expects of top chefs, dancers, models, and designers.
And that’s pretty valuable knowledge.
Then there are those programs that highlight more personal goals. Weight loss. Makeovers. And tons of dating shows. Now, honestly, I don’t know what anyone learns from watching or participating in a dating show -- other than the fact that there are a lot of people out there you really don’t want to be dating. But it’s pretty hard to deny the appeal of makeovers – whether you’re talking about buildings, or bedrooms, or people.
I’ve already written many times about how important I think makeovers are to tgirls like us. The tgirl life doesn’t have to be totally superficial and all about appearances, but a makeover gives every girl a chance to look her verybest. And that shot of confidence can mean a lot.
Makeover television works the same way. Most of us don’t have the skill to totally redesign our style or the personal strength and commitment to lose a lot of weight or get in shape. But reality tv offers participants the quite unreal opportunity to be worked on -- or to work with -- professionals nearly 24/7. To live and breathe their transition without interruption for days, weeks, or months at a time. Don’t you wish you had the time to devote to an effort like that?
In the most radical programs, the makeovers are literally extreme. The participants don’t just get re-styled. They undergo surgery. I once watched a program called, “The Swan.” It involved pretty thorough cosmetic surgery to rework women’s bodies and faces into a more traditional vision of beauty. The show was heavily criticized – and rightly so -- for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which was placing the participants under extreme health risks. But also for perpetuating stereotypes of beauty.
I like to think I’m a pretty intelligent, thoughtful person, but I have to admit that there was a part of me that was fascinated. Most cross dressers have some kind of transformation fantasy. From the mild to the wild. And, although I’m not proud of it, that show fed into many of my own. I don’t watch many reality shows. But I was disappointed when “The Swan” wasn’t brought back for a second season.
Why? Because of the power of transformation. If those quote-unquote ugly ducklings could be transformed into beautiful swans, then maybe a guy like me could become a woman. Maybe even a beautiful woman. Like most cross dressers, I have no plans to go forward with a transition like that. But I do enjoy the fantasy. And I’m sure that, in some way, so do you.
But a funny thing happened along the way through my fantasy life. A few of my friends began the extraordinary process of actually transitioning. And these weren’t people I’d never met before facing weird challenges on some distant island. These were (and are) people I know well. No fantasies. No tv cameras. No fame and fortune. Quite the opposite.
They have stared down the doubts, prejudices, misgivings, and misunderstandings of their loved ones, faced indescribable pain (both physical and emotional), and persevered in a world sorely lacking in real-life mentors, coaches, and role models.
And there’s no monetary payoff when they’re done. In fact, most will go heavily into debt to achieve their goal.
When reality television is done well – and sometimes, even when it’s not done well – it can be extremely inspiring. But let me tell you, reality television has nothing on the reality that is my life today -- and the real life transformations that I’ve witnessed.
I can’t even begin to put into words how proud I am of my friends and acquaintances who have done this or who are doing this. And, here’s the key, these people don’t get to go on hiatus at the end of the network season. They have transformed their lives and they live with that decision – every joy, every sorrow -- every day.
I have no plans to transition, but because I know such amazing, courageous people and have witnessed their journeys, I am myself today a much different person. Because of them, I have been inspired. And transformed. By the transformative power of transformation.
Take care out there.
Be smart. Be safe. Be sexy.
Posted by CiCi Kitten at 3:33 PM