Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Jessica Simpson's The Price of Beauty: Uganda Gain Some Weight?

Tonight on Jessica Simpson's The Price of Beauty there are no day spas! Apparently facials are not a popular pastime on the Ugandan plain.

Just ask these guys.

Our troop of beauty seekers ride along in a jeep through the wilderness toward a Ugandan village to explore their idea of beauty. As they bump along, they remark on the incredible BEAUTY that surrounds them - the foliage, the wildlife... until a bug appears on CaCee's sunglasses and proceeds to fall between Jessica's legs. You would think a scorpion jumped in her face judging from her reaction and headlong dive into the front seat. Truthfully, I probably would have done the same thing. Large insects are the main reason I am frightened to visit places like Africa or South America.

The panic sets in.

We meet our Ugandan Beauty Ambassador, Judy. Judy, Ambassador of Beauty.

Take a hike, Cosmo!

Judy is my favorite Beauty Ambassador so far because she will never appear on the cover of a fashion magazine. We are finally acknowledging that the Western idea of beauty isn't necessarily universal... and therefore might be bogus. Judy grew up in the rural Hima tribe, but now lives in "the city" so she will be able to offer us an interesting perspective. This village is a little more developed than African villages I've seen on say, The Amazing Race. The people live in stone houses and there is even a store for Jess and CaCee to go shopping in for some Hima fashions. They find some colorful dresses, but Judy helps them layer up underneath them so that they will appear larger than they are. You see, to the Hima men, fat is beautiful! How often have I dreamed of a place like this?

Judy introduces the gang to a group of local men to have a round table (or round ground, as it were) about what they think is beautiful.

"Chicks are hot."

The men tell Jessica and CaCee that they look very good in their new clothes, but they need to put on some weight. CaCee remarks that anywhere you go in the world, men are men. This is true - men are always all about appearances. The girls want to know where these guys draw the line and they say that when a woman has to struggle to stand she may be getting too large. So eat up, ladies! Until you can't pick yourself up anymore. Then cool it. The men explain that men are tasked with herding and tending to cattle, so they have to stay thin and athletic. Also having a fat wife is a sign of their prosperity. The guys even flirt a little with Jess and CaCee, bragging about how many cattle they have and suggesting that they may want second wives.

Judy tell us that there is a woman getting married tomorrow, so they will go and talk to her. The tradition is that the groom does not see the bride before the wedding and she spends two months getting beautiful in a fattening hut. The hut is a women-only situation so Ken has to wait outside.

It looks like the novelty wore off.

The bride is hanging out in the hut with her mom and auntie, who have been feeding her TONS of milk for the last two months. Milk? How well would a McDonald's do in this village? And as a bonus, the beef would be real! And fresh! We learn that the bride consumes around 5,000 calories a day and just sits still so she doesn't burn any of it. Heh! That would be a cinch! We also learn that before entering the fat hut the bride was smaller than Jessica and CaCee - at least smaller than they look in their volumizing layers. Jessica tells us this is the complete opposite of everything she's ever known. Aw Jess. The world is a big place, isn't it?

Meanwhile the men outside decide to teach Ken how to milk a cow. I guess they don't have gay guys in this village or they'd know that Ken belongs in the hut learning how to be a bride. Ken actually tells us this isn't what he signed on for - he'd rather be powder puffing or brushing someone's hair. LOL. Ken is a good sport, but the minute he grabs the udder the cow takes a huge dump that sprays all over Ken's pants.

"Can I do your makeup instead now?"

After he manages to get about a teaspoon of milk out, a local guy offers him a sip of his full container and Ken is worried that it's not pasteurized. Yeah, somehow I don't think they do that around here, Ken. In the hut, though, Judy tells us that they cook the milk with herbs to make it super tasty. Despite the girls' shock, the bride says she is very happy and excited to be experiencing this passage into womanhood. Aw.

"Just one more day!"

The bride's mother takes the girls out into the bush to pick some herbs and demonstrate some home remedies. What she's working on now is a batch of herbal deodorant. She takes some and smears it all over Jessica, CaCee and Ken's armpits. They say it smells good but it's this huge brown smear - which I guess doesn't show on the Ugandans.

Need a razor, Jess?

That night in our gang's hut, we discover the negative side of living in a village where fat is where it's at. Enormous insects and spiders. And they are EVERYWHERE! Normal sized American spiders freak me out and slightly larger European spiders give me panic attacks, so I would be a total gonner around these things.


Jessica rushes around in a frenzy with a can of bug spray. Ha! These things are as big as hamsters! I guess any port in a storm, though, right? When a medium sized moth flies around the light Jessica screams so loud that I'm surprised the locals don't come and escort her out into the wilderness. I don't think these huts are soundproof. Jess finally climbs into Ken's bed with him under a mosquito net for the night. That was creepy. Yucky bugs.

In the morning we head back to the village for the wedding! Judy greets the crew and tells them that the bride would like them to participate in her wedding party. Jess and CaCee are going to be bridesmaids! They get all dressed up in their very pretty bridesmaid dresses and wraps and then help the bride - who is wearing all black - get ready to be married.

"It pleases me to have Jessica Simpson instead of my mother help me get ready for my wedding."

Ken wishes he could be a bridesmaid too, but he settles for groomsman. The ladies all walk the bride out and she is completely covered in her wraps and there is even an umbrella blocking her from view.

No female faces allowed.

In front of the audience there is a bed sitting in the grass. Jessica wonders if part of the Ugandan wedding ceremony is to watch the couple have sex. Hmm, THAT would be culture shock. Turns out the bed is a gift someone is presenting to the couple, which is so sweet.

I'm not sure what I expected for the ceremony, but it wasn't this:

"Can I get an Amen?"

A Christian minister. Apparently this village has been visited by Western missionaries. After he prays, the groom says some poetry about how beautiful the bride is - comparing her, of course, to a cow: fat and sleek. He talks about how she distracts him and he giggles, which is really cute. Ken determines that he has learned here that beauty is what you want it to be. It is up to the person looking at it and no one else. In other words, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Someone figured it out before you did, Ken. Jessica thinks it's wonderful how happy these people are and how much they smile.

Next week Jessica is berated by a Muslim woman for being immodest. Another interesting episode!

I really enjoyed exploring an idea of beauty so completely different than ours. But I came across the following comment on the Vh1 website which made me do a double take:

"The definition of beauty may differ from place to place - but the price is the same - changing who you are to please someone else. For women anyway. The day we don't change a thing to "get" or "keep" a man will be the real day to celebrate!"

It's true that the woman in tonight's episode was fattening up to be beautiful for her husband. Changing herself. Is this a bad thing? I don't know. I'm getting married in a few months and I am having so much fun choosing dresses, hairstyles, makeup, jewelry, etc. I'm following the American wedding beauty rituals and the bride tonight was following hers - and she seemed very happy as well. What do you guys think? Please discuss!

Thanks for reading!
-Honey Gangsta

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