I’m very excited to share that an article I wrote was published yesterday on The Huffington Post. It’s titled, you guessed it, “5 YA Makeover Novels Where Inner Beauty Prevails” (though it has appeared on the main pages as “The Problem with Our Cultural Obsession with Makeovers”). You can view it here. They have published a couple other pieces of my work, and honestly, it never stops being exciting.
The idea for this piece came from my excitement over a few movies that came out this spring: the new live-action Cinderella and the book-to-movie The Duff. I am notoriously bad at watching movies; I nearly always fall asleep before the end (or maybe the middle). But I stayed awake for these two movies, and I loved them. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that they have something in common (besides being based on stories I already loved): they both hinge on a makeover.
I can’t resist a good makeover story; I’ve even tried to create a few real-life ones for myself, with the help of John Frieda Precision Foam Colour in a variety of shades. But, as with almost all things pop culture, I’ve conflicted by the draw of makeovers. Is it just another example of the high value placed on appearances?
After digging through the YA stacks, I realized that the truth is more complex. In truth, the best makeover stories are about personal growth. The characters may start off with the wrong idea (that changing your looks will fix your life), but ultimately, their choice – superficial as it may have seemed – leads them to a truer version of themselves.
For me, that makes sense. A number of times, I have tried to change something external about myself, thinking that if I fixed my outside, then I’d be happy on the inside. Unsurprisingly, it never panned out quite like I dreamed up. But each time, I gained new insights on myself that I’m not sure I would’ve gotten otherwise. And therein lies the true beauty of mistakes.
Above and beyond all that, though, I just want to reiterate to you, my captive(ish?) audience, how exciting this is for me. I was thinking about how cool this opportunity is in the car the other day, and it made me tear up (and that’s before Sarah Dessen shared my article, which just sent me over the edge). I thought about my 17-year-old self, many transformations ago, who had braces and a purple composition notebook and dreamed of writing girly things that would inspire people. She may not have truly known how much hard work it would take to get here, but she had enough hope to believe it was possible. And in their wonderfully roundabout way, that’s what these great makeover stories remind us to do: believe in our ability to craft a beautiful, genuine life.