The Cinderella Makeover: Glamour Girl, Television Misery Shows, and 1950s Femininity
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In July 1953, Long Before the Word “makeover” officially entered the American lexicon, the misery show Glamour Girl debuted on the NBC television network. Praised at the time for turning “ducklings into swans” and polishing up “diamonds in the rough,”1 Glamour Girl was the country’s first nationally broadcast daytime program that celebrated the beautification of women in a dramatic before-and-after format. The case study of this historically significant but rarely discussed program throws light on the gendered place of women in postwar America. Glamour Girl’s Cinderella storylines openly fostered the nation’s emergent standards for American femininity—standards that required both a woman’s realignment with traditional family roles and an artful and more opulent redesign of her physical appearance.2 Yet because Glamour Girl followed the discursive arc of a “misery show,” contestants’ on-air explanations about why they desired a makeover also disclosed the social terms of their unhappiness. Taken together, these confessions implicitly served to underscore the gendered constraints of 1950s America and added a measure of rebellion to the makeover act.
KeywordsSoap Opera Human Misery Traditional Family Role Inspirational Story National Broadcasting Company
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