Allyson Donovan, 32, is among the contestants on the new reality show "Bridalplasty." (E )
Premiering Sunday on E! (exclamation point theirs), "Bridalplasty" is a series in which, to steal a headline from a network press release, "Brides-to-Be Compete in Wedding-Themed Challenges Collecting Extreme Plastic Surgery Procedures While Trying to Win a Dream Celebrity-Style Wedding." I'm sure it's all the same to E! whether you are delighted or horrified by this idea, as long as you watch. But I would not encourage it.
If you believe that we own our own bodies, it's hard to argue against cosmetic surgery on any sort of moral grounds. While I'm not sure it should be considered "OK," say, to chop off your hand, even if it offends you, or that any doctor should be allowed to help you do it, I am not going to argue with you about changing the shape of your nose, because nothing I can say will make you believe it looks fine the way it is, anyway. I do regret plastification of humankind, however, and an industry that encourages people to regard normal difference as disease. (I know plastic surgeons do necessary things too, but they do so much more.)
Of "Bridalplasty" itself there is not much to say beyond that it is a creepy mix of things you have seen before. Its relative oddness — the first episode features an "injectables party," with a big syringe for decoration — cannot disguise the fact that it is just the latest mining of a tapped-out form, with nothing fresh to offer but a new flavor of humiliation. Coming attractions promise the familiar dormitory hysteria, but with bandages: Each player has developed a "wish list" of procedures with resident cutter Dr. Terry Dubrow ("The Swan"), and each week the winner of a wedding-themed challenge will get something enlarged, shortened, shifted or buffed. The last bride standing gets it all.
Host Shanna Moakler, a beauty queen and reality-show personality ("Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants," "Meet the Barkers") has claimed to have had no work done herself apart from "preventative" Botox injections over the last nine years. (She is 36.) Through whatever magic of toxins and makeup, her face does have the disquieting evenness of a polystyrene wig stand — it's a popular look — and as an emcee she is similarly a smooth surface. But the players make excited noises whenever she appears: "She was Miss USA, she dated rock stars," says one. "How can you not love this woman?"
It's worth underlining the obvious fact that each of the 12 contestants is engaged or already married (some want the full wedding fate had denied them). A few do have real issues, owing to health problems or great weight loss, but none have been left lonely by the bulging of their thighs, the yellowness of their teeth, the roughness of their skin or the smallness of their breasts; they have been accepted as their perfect imperfect selves. And it's true that they all are willing agents of their own exploitation. But one hopes they realize, at least, that none of this is being done primarily for their benefit.