Posted by: Kirsty | April 21, 2009

Susan Boyle and the Pressure of Beauty

My blogging has been shamefully lax recently, for which I apologise. In my defence, I had an essay to hand in yesterday and it was a bit ‘all-hands-on-deck’ for the last week there. Still, it’s done, and I’m happy with it, and it’s handed in. Other than the small point of now having a 15,000 word dissertation to get going on, of course.

Still, it’s meant that I’ve not had a huge amount of time to read for pleasure. I have just started Angela Carter’s novel Wise Children, though, and it’s already shaping up to be brilliant. Thoughts on it to come in due course.

So today, you’ll get my rant du jour. I’m sure you’ll all know who Susan Boyle is by now. She is, apparently, getting more YouTube hits than President Obama’s inauguration speech. For the three people who have been living under a rock, she is a 47-year-old Scottish woman who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. She’s did a cracking rendition of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Mis. She also had the audacity not to be conventionally attractive, which, combined with the fact that she came across as a bit batty, meant that everyone was expecting the worst when she stepped on-stage – including me, I am horribly ashamed to say. Worry not, I feel suitably guilty, and have had a bloody good talk to myself.

However, one particular British daily newspaper has taken to referring to Ms Boyle as ‘the Hairy Angel’. It’s the Daily Express (of course). I’m sorry, but how offensive is that? It’s cruel, and it just reiterates our obsession with physical perfection. It’s really made me very angry. It’s just… unnecessary. Really, really unnecessary. So the woman doesn’t pluck her eyebrows – is this a crime now? Aggggghhhhh!

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the programme gave her a ‘make-over’. I’m not sure how to feel about that if they do. If it’s what she wants, then fair enough. But if she’s made to feel like it’s the only way she’ll be successful – like the fuss made over previous BGT winner Paul Pott’s wonky teeth – then that’s another matter entirely. I have a horrible feeling that she’s going to be taken advantage of in some way, and I hope that if she feels pressured into anything, then she’ll be brave enough to speak up.



  1. I have been mad about this story too. Whilst it is lovely for Susan Boyle, fairly tail come true and all that, I don’t know why they thought looks and singing were likely to corrolate. Have they seen most opera singers? It is the deliberate manipulation of the audience’s emotional expectations that annoys me. The judges can’t really have been that stupid can they? The procers set her up for a fall they knew wasn’t coming surely? Anyway, good post Kirsty.

  2. Grrr, can’t The Daily Express just revert to mawkish articles about Princess Di? I suppose we’re all supposed to look like her.

  3. […] Susan Boyle and the Pressure of Beauty […]

  4. I would also just like to point out that the “related links” at the end of the post are automatically generated by WordPress – I have nothing to do with it. Hence the link to “Britain’s Pornstar Talent”, which Other Stories most certainly does NOT recommend.

  5. Oh dear, have just seen that The Daily Star has attempted a simulated makeover of Ms Boyle. They’ve made the poor mommet look like Cherie Blair.

  6. Kirsty, you do know that there’s a way to switch those Related Links off? When I read this post, they’re not there, so I assume you figured out how to get rid of them.

    As for Susan Boyle: I do hope she won’t be pressured into becoming something or someone she doesn’t want to become.

  7. Okay, I don’t know why, but now the Possibly Related Posts are back. If you want to switch them off, in your WP-dashboard, click on Extras under Appearances in the left hand column. Then tick “Hide related links on this blog…..”. That’s all.

  8. Hooray! Thanks Myrthe. Related links are now switched off.

  9. I too am so worried for Susan, she has learning difficulties apparently so I just hope someone is advising her well (pref not Max C) and looking after her best interests. Amanda Holden did say in an interview that she wouldn’t be letting her near Simon Cowell’s dentist or hairdresser but I think there is much more at stake here than that. Bless her, can you just imagine the viewing figures for her next appearance?

  10. Oh gosh, I really hope Max C doesn’t end up as her publicist! He’s Simon Cowell’s publicist, I believe, so I suppose it’s a real possibility.

    I’m sure the viewing figures will be through the roof – and good on her! She is a wonderful singer, and I hope she does well. But as you say, I really hope someone is advising her properly and that there are people to watch out for her.

  11. In the paper today ‘Susan Boyle the backlash begins’. WHY oh WHY do we take pleasure in ths country in building people up just to knock them down? I watched Have I got News For You on Friday and mocking remarks were made about her appearance (by the men I hasten to add). I hate hate hate this relying on appearance. Cheryl Cole who seems to be the nation’s sweetheart is a stick insect with not one natural bone in her body yet she is feted and adored and she cannot even hold a tune. Oh I get so mad…


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