A Reality Show Star is like the Bearded Lady in a Freak Show
At some point we have seen the drunken reality star antics displayed on Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and The Bad Girls Club. Whether we like to admit it ,or not, the shows are a guilty pleasure of young, old, and every demographic imaginable. The adage “happy news doesn’t sell” is completely personified in these shows, by bar fights, scantily-clad females, and characters who can best be described as train wrecks. Sideshow performers, namely the bearded ladies, also catch attention for the same reasons. All things considered, a reality show star is like the bearded lady in a freak show.
While the resemblances are much easier to see, there are a few obvious differences. In order to be a reality show, you do not need to have a beard, or be a bearded lady for that matter. Reality stars make more money than bearded ladies because they have more outlets for their “talents,“ whereas a bearded lady is usually confined to the stage.
Differences aside, the similarities between these two subjects are staggering. These two types of people are always under public scrutiny and in the middle of an actual or figurative spotlight. When there is something that distinguishes a person as being “different,” everyone’s attention is focused on them .For the bearded lady, a literal spotlight is on them while performing on stage, after the show, people’s attention is still constantly drawn to them. Reality stars and their escapades get leaked to every National Enquirer-esque magazine, and no move they make goes unnoticed. Countless reality television shows are dedicated to the ridiculous nature of people. With constant flash bulbs, paparazzo follow a reality star’s every action; whether it be a trip to the mall or getting arrested for being drunk on a beach in New Jersey.
Both bearded ladies, and reality show stars are intriguing due to the novelty of their nature. Someone else’s misfortune is always interesting, because it makes us seem more desirable, and more normal than them. Bearded ladies are amusing because they take social norms of women not having beards and smash it to pieces. Think of it as The Jerry Springer Show’s appeal; when one views the program the urge to suddenly feel better about personal life decisions is nearly impossible. Snooki finds herself getting sucker-punched in a bar on Jersey Shore. Maury has a woman trying to find her “baby daddy” for the sixth-time. With any of these instances, one can not help but stare and wait for the antics to peak for our personal enjoyment.
The lifestyles of the bearded lady, and reality stars both involve traveling, demanding work schedules, and untraditional means of getting a paycheck. Additionally, both types of entertainers surround themselves with like-minded people. A circus performer travels from city to town, and back again to promote themselves in a group of taboo people. They do not have normal nine-to-five jobs, and work late in to the night. Those who star in reality shows travel to promote whatever their talent is, go to parties, and hang around with their co-stars who do the same. A bearded lady is most comfortable with her circus freak show co-workers, and a hot mess reality star is most at home with their cast mates.
Neither the bearded lady, nor reality stars are ever taken seriously for the very same reasons. When people look, or act outside of what we deem as appropriate, they are immediately written off as unintelligent. In this case, the novelty effect pushes them farther away from society, and a stigma is placed upon them. The bearded lady fits in with her circus freak show counterparts, but does not function well when placed individually within society. A bearded lady could never really get a traditional job, because they capitalize upon only one facet of their being. The cast mates of Jersey Shore only showcase the fact that they go to the gym, go tanning, do laundry, and they are reckless drunks. A bearded lady, or Snooki, for that matter be accepted as a school teacher, doctor, or even a custodian. Both reality stars and bearded ladies chose a way to get a paycheck that limits their options if they decide to leave their current career,
In summation, the similarities between a bearded lady and a reality star outnumber the differences between them. A reality star can not be taken seriously, because they have ostracized themselves from what we see as a functional person, and neither can a bearded lady. To feel comfortable with their actions, both subjects surround themselves with other “freak show performers,” and they both use taboo actions to gain attention. We look at these people not as intelligent human beings, but as their orange-tanned, part-going alter egos, or as a woman who defies the facial hairless standards of females. Whether it is a traveling circus, or publicity tour reality stars and bearded ladies put themselves on display all over the world and open themselves up for public scrutiny. What one can gather from these conclusions is both subjects are not so different at all, and bearded ladies may not seem as taboo as their stigma; they just do not make as much money.