Real Housewives of Atlanta

In our appearance-oriented society lies a young woman who glances into the mirror and is frightened by what she sees. She attempts to hold her head high, but deep down inside she collapses into her own world where she is at war with no one but herself.

She heavily applies her makeup, slips on her highest heels and puts on every other deceptive asset (non-prescription contacts, false eye lashes, you name it) and continues to call herself an authentic and confident woman.

By dictionary definition, the word reality means “the quality or state of being real,” but is this what we see broadcasted on our televisions?

Some of the most popular reality shows display women who have long hair extensions, flawless makeup and last but not least, a distinct hour glass shape to compliment their false assets.

At the start of the year, the popular show “Love and Hip Hop” caught the eyes of 3.4 million viewers and “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” saw 4.5 million viewers. Shows like these are going into their fifth and sixth seasons.

The reality stars are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per season with some having a net worth of more than $1 million.

According to a social worker, with many of the audience members being female, reality shows such as these need to put a damper on what they are portraying.

Clinical social worker Cyntoya Campbell says such TV shows impact preteens and teenagers most.

“They are looking at women of influence and think, ‘I have to look like them to have this type of lifestyle.’ They look at those women and see that is what they need to look like in order to have a boyfriend or be popular.”

Chris Rock’s documentary “Good Hair” mentions that the Black hair market is worth almost $700 million. With some hair extensions reaching $1,000, it is troubling to find that young women tend to acquire items like hair and makeup to hide behind.

“Makeup is heavily influenced by what their peers look like,” said Campbell, who also has daughters of her own. “If all of your friends are doing it, you’ll adapt that for yourself too. It goes back to self-esteem and self-love.”

Even the once popular corsets are making a comeback. To achieve the precise hourglass shapes of many stars and reality show participants, young women are reaching back into the Victorian times to attain the goal of a petite waist. Waist training is a gradual process of waist reduction using a steel-boned corset, according to

David Borrows, an associate at the boutique, said that sales have increased in the last two years.

“Most of our customers are first-time buyers and many of them want to go very narrow,” he said. “Younger ladies are influenced by the media. We’ve noticed that if a celebrity who is pictured in one (a corset), within a day or two we get calls about wanting a similar one. They just want more curves.”

Avid reality show viewer India Johnson said she watches the shows because they remind her of documentaries, which she often favors. “I know reality shows aren’t real, but they’re real people.” She said not every Black woman has a size four waist with matching 40-inch hips.

“I think it gives a false perception on what our culture is. It glamorizes materialism and what a small portion of our Black population is about.”

Johnson says that she watches the shows because she knows the difference, but many don’t.

“If a young girl saw those (reality shows),” Johnson said, “she would think ‘I need to walk around with red bottom shoes or other things that many don’t see as attainable.”

Campbell said that finding some basic life values could help some young women overcome their internal issues.

“It goes back to self worth. How can you develop as a person?” she asked.

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