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Abstract

Makeover narratives are a form of discourse which relies on some type of transformation as a path to success. These narratives mainly target the bodies of white middle-class and middle-aged heterosexual women with the aim of creating more conventionally beautiful feminine subjects. This article explores the beauty practices and rituals present in the US dramedy Ugly Betty. We look in detail at makeover narratives and their close association with contemporary idealized versions of female attractiveness. Closely tied up with the makeover canon, the beauty industry entails processes of disciplining women’s bodies to meet the requirements of an ideal feminine being. This regulation of the external appearance is made evident in Ugly Betty, suggesting that the adaptation of the self to dominant beauty discourses provides the way to personal and professional success. The thorough exploration of the makeover framework also reveals its linkage with the contradictoriness of neoliberal capitalism and current post-feminist sensibilities. In Ugly Betty, we find a vibrant, independent and determined protagonist that fights indefatigably for her dream job but, on the other hand, sexist depictions still persist, such as the continual mockery, disparagement and disregard of women who fail to match the narrow Western expressions of feminine appearance. Such a self-contradictory picture marks one of the contemporary debates of the feminist movement as well.

Note on the Author

Luz-Maria Tato-Pazo received a M.A. in Journalism (Madrid Complutense University, Spain) in 2005 and a Professional Master in “Television: News and Programmes” (CEU San Pablo University, Spain) in 2008. Since 2009, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Media Studies (Swansea University, UK). Her Ph.D. thesis is concerned with gender issues depictions in contemporary popular culture, taking as case study the US dramedy “Ugly Betty”. Luz-Maria has also worked in several radio stations, TV channels and production companies in Spain.

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