Super cool news: I’ve got a new byline AND I’ve COINED A NEW POP CULTURE TERM. Does this feat earn me a coveted spot in the Pop Culture Hall of Fame?? For Cosmo, I wrote about “She’s All That” for its 20th anniversary and how the movie sends a dangerous message to young women, where the guy falls in love with the girl after she gets a makeover! I dubbed it the Hot After Makeover trope and I’m not here for this nonsense!
Now, I’ll admit that I did once love the movie. Maybe it’s because I was young and just a bit on the naive side — and, yes, that Freddie Prinze Jr. was a pretty fetching leading man in the late ’90s. But when I watched the film again a couple years ago as an adult, the horrific and toxic messages came bursting through the television screen. Ugh, whyyyy?
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, in which I talk about what the dangerous message in “She’s All That” tells young women about self-esteem, body image and relationships…
This thought that “If I just fix X about myself, he’ll suddenly like me” was powerful to teenage me, and I didn’t even realize that in thinking this way, I’d be fading into the background of my own life. I started believing all the stereotypes about people with disabilities: We’re broken, there’s something wrong with us, and all our scars and deformities would disgust people. As long as I wasn’t “normal looking,” I wasn’t worthy.
That’s why movies like “She’s All That” set up such false, unrealistic expectations for young women. Yes, Zack may have come to see the error of his ways by the final kiss, but even presenting this plot in the first place set a precedent that is hard to break—as evidenced by the fact that we’re still seeing movies like this in 2019.
You can read the full piece here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo