"What's wrong with looking like Susan Boyle?"

Over the weekend, Scottish singing sensation (try saying that 5 times fast!) Susan Boyle was interviewed by The Times of London and asked a question that had nothing to do with her voice, talent, personal history, career, or even where she sees herself in 5 years. The British paper, like so many others the world over, wanted to know if the 47-year-old was considering a makeover. In fact, in the past week, ever since she appeared on the "Britain's Got Talent" stage wearing a less-than-sultry gold lace dress, belted out "I Dreamed a Dream," and made notoriously surly judge Simon Cowell swoon, this beauty business has become a dominant theme in The Susan Boyle story. Bloggers, entertainment shows, legitimate news outlets, and tabloid magazines alike have all dissected the issue ad nauseam, publishing exhaustive commentary, running reader polls and even performing their own unnerving virtual makeovers.

Um, like this one, which originally ran on the Chicago Tribune's website and is a collaboration between Dailymakeover.com and Extra TV. Though the folks at the Trib said they'd prefer Boyle to stay the way she is, they considered a real-life makeover "inevitable" and therefore suggested she go with the bob look at far right.

Let's really think about this for a second. Why does Susan Boyle need a makeover? Is she capable of executing her lovely gift of song without a blowout, lipgloss, and swanky clothes? Yes. Will the world ever take her seriously (ie not condescend her and treat her like some country-bumpkin imbecile the way every interview I've seen so far has done) if she continues on au naturel? Perhaps not. In case you hadn't noticed, in 2009 every female singer who comes out of anywhere is expected to undergo some sort of gorgeousness transformation. It's understood covertly and even spoken about overtly that in order to succeed in the music business, one needs a certain image. And that image must be feminine, sexy, thin, and wearing a lot of makeup. Consider Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. I mean, need we say more? These were once normal-looking girls.

The larger question in all of this becomes: Have we become so collectively superficial that we can no longer accept entertainers who are not styled and polished? We equate fame and celebrity with sparkly beauty to a degree that it seems downright unimaginable that someone who could get Chiclet teeth, fancy hair, and a fabulous wardrobe would choose not to. It's suspicious. Vanity and making yourself as beautiful as you can possibly be is a mark of success in our society, at any age, often more important than talent. How could anyone NOT want a new nose, Botox, and laser-hair-removed eyebrows? That does not compute!

As for Boyle, she has yet to feed into the beauty frenzy. Her answer to the Times was resolute:
"I'm content with the way I look. What's wrong with looking like Susan Boyle? What's the matter with that? I'm just an ordinary person trying to make it as a professional singer. I really don't want to change all that much. Why should it matter as long as I can sing? It's not a beauty contest."

Oh, lady. If it was only that simple.

Source: Times Online