I haven't so far been very impressed by the exploits of Coleen McLoughlin Rooney (she seems to go by both names separately) in Coleen's Real Women. (Are we not meant to notice the Photoshopping in the promo pic?) The premise of the show is that each week, Coleen - who became famous for marrying footballer Wayne Rooney and then carving out her own career as a writer, model, businesswoman and wearer of expensive clothes - does her own casting calls to find 'real women' who will compete with career models for high-profile modelling contracts or spokesmodel positions. As you'll guess from the name of the show, it's based on the notion that there are in fact beautiful, non-model women walking British streets who are just as appealing as and perhaps more representative of certain brand philosophies than your typical (UK) size 4 model. Ignoring the annoyingly over-used and disingenuous 'real women' caption (which implies that smaller women are either Barbies come alive or figments of our imagination), I was willing to give the show a chance, mainly because I like (the media image of) Coleen, who seemed confident, not very far up her own trasero and earnest in her quest to make everyday beauty more visible.
Except, I don't think she's doing that well. She does find gorgeous women of all sizes, but the women who ultimately win the contracts are not too far off from the model industry standard of beauty. I've also found it curious that one of Coleen's candidates always secures the job, but let's assume that I'm willing to suspend disbelief concerning that, and just go along with the idea that Coleen is just so convincing and pioneering, that all of a sudden these industry professionals see the light and are lured to the fat side. The thing is, they aren't really lured to the fat side. If anything, they're lured to the just as conventionally beautiful and carrying a little water weight side.
But the show fails in other ways, and that failure could not be more evident than in last night's re-aired episode, where Coleen and her assistant were trying to satisfy a Superdrug spokesmodel brief in Birmingham. As usual, they found some really striking women and narrowed them down to the three who would be put forward for the job, my favourite of whom was Cara, the biracial daughter of a Black, Jamaican man and White, Belgian woman. I was drawn to her serenity: I felt that if she were on a Superdrug billboard, she would probably catch my eye.
So after all the show's preamble about embracing your own height, size, unique features and personality, Coleen's casting expert Camilla then promptly spends the entire episode registering her discomfort with Cara's wide nose, and agonizing over the ways in which they might make her nose appear more narrow. (She's also concerned, but considerably less so, that Alana looks too old and Liz seems to lack confidence.) She consults the photographer about the angles he'll use to diminish her gargantuan nose, and at one point has what resembles a nose intervention with Cara, confronting her about the 'problem' and reassuring her that they'll do whatever they can to hide her big, fat, black nose. At one point during Cara's shoot, Camilla, smiling and relieved, tells her, "Your nose looks beautiful!" which, given the woman's ethnic heritage, can only mean "Don't worry...it hardly looks black at all!" Way to help women embrace their features. Cara, meanwhile, seems a little nonplussed by the nose debate. When pressed about what abuse she suffers because of her clearly inadequate nose, she confesses that her husband says she has a 'pig snout'. (Yeah...you might want to trade him in for a less asswipey model.) Just for your own reference, here's Cara:
I guess it's ok to be fat, but not too fat, short but not too short, and black but not too black. If you can have dark enough skin to make their campaign seem edgy and inclusive, but white enough features to not scare off the consumers with your big, black nose, then you're a real woman.