Susan Boyle: No cover girl, but a beauty nonetheless

by Beacon Staff • April 22, 2009

On April 11, she stood before Simon Cowell, one of the tougher judges on iAmerican Idol/i and iBritain's Got Talent/i. Little did Boyle know that hours later, her performance would be streaming on YouTube for millions of viewers, and that she would be the world's newest sensation. When Cowell asked Boyle, "What's the dream?" she replied, with a cheeky grin, "I'm trying to become a professional singer." At age 47, the charity worker from a sleepy village in Scotland, is finally seeing her dream come true.

The world has been swept up by the performance, but much attention has been paid to her appearance. Many describe her as dowdy, and in dire need of a makeover. One of iTalent/i's judges, Amanda Holden, said her performance was "the biggest wake up call."

The audience was cynical. They didn't think this woman, with her double chin and eccentric personality, could sing like she had. Their attitude quickly changed after Boyle hit her first few notes.

There are a few lessons to be learned from this true fairy tale.

As humans, we tend to judge. We have preconceived notions of how people should look and act. If people stray from cultural norms, we sometimes frown. Well, newsflash: we are all different.

Lisa Schwarzbaum of iEntertainment Weekly/i wrote, "In our pop-minded culture so slavishly obsessed with packaging-the right face, the right clothes, the right attitudes, the right Facebook posts-the unpackaged artistic power of the unstyled, un-hip, un-kissed Ms. Boyle let me feel, for the duration of one blazing showstopping ballad, the meaning of human grace.She reordered the measure of beauty."

So, with makeover talks in the air, Boyle told CNN, "I wouldn't want to change myself too much because that would really make things a bit false."

But why is there an intensified necessity to primp people up so they "look the part"? Why does society think you have to look beautiful to be beautiful? Women buy product after product from fashion and beauty magazines. Some men think that if a woman is sexy, she has more to offer than someone who looks like, say, Susan Boyle. All over almost every form of media, society's opinion of real beauty is morphed.

Boyle's talents exemplify true beauty. So what if her outward appearance doesn't meet society's beauty checklist? If we got our heads out of iCosmoGirl/i's Ten Fabulous Ways to Stay Thin, perhaps we could see the inner beauty we have overlooked for so long. "Why should it matter as long as I can sing?" Boyle said to iThe London Times/i, "It's not a beauty contest."

The thing is, it is a beauty contest. But it shouldn't be. Pre-iIdol/i, Clay Aiken was a dorky little redhead. After the competition, girls were achin' for Aiken. Carrie Underwood transformed from a small town from Oklahoma girl to a glamorous red-carpet woman.

It's true, looking good is how society predicts success. Sometimes, that's all it comes down to: talent plus looks equals fame and money. Though many of us are fans of Idol and such programs, they will never teach us what is moral, or the right, most moral outlook on beauty.

Just because Boyle doesn't look like the singer producers and music companies want, she has the powerful voice and the dream to help her audience believe in who they are. So who cares if she doesn't have that makeover and abstains from Botox? Maybe it's not her that needs the makeover, but the world we live in.

iMichelle Golden is a freshman writing, literature and publishing major and a contributor to /iThe Beacon.