reality tv

Jessika from MAFS is the ultimate reminder that when it comes to appearances, women can't win.

For almost two seasons of Married at First Sight, there’s been one enduring conversation point: women’s lips.

Not every woman’s lips – specifically, the ones that appear to have been injected with filler.

Last year, it was Tracey Jewel and Davina Rankin who were targets of ridicule.

In an opinion piece published in The Daily Telegraph in March 2018, journalist Claire Harvey begged Australian women not to follow suit with the reality stars’ “sausage lips”.

Listen to the latest episode of MAFS Chat. Post continues after audio. 

“Why do all these women have the lips of blow-up dolls?” she wrote. “Who tells people like Davina and Tracey they look attractive with a pair of cocktail frankfurts resting below their noses?”

This year, we’re having a near-identical conversation, but it’s about Ines Basic, Susie Bradley, Martha Kalifatidis and Jessika Power.

Comments on social media have drawn stark comparisons between the women’s appearances and their behaviour on the show, suggesting that their ‘fake’ exterior is a reflection of their values.

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Speaking to A Current Affair on Thursday night, Jessika said that while she’s tried to stay away from the internet during her time on the show, she’s aware of the vitriol.

“First it’s my lips, then next I’m being sl*t shamed, so…,” she said.

In calling out “sausage lips,” what Harvey and others presumably want is to challenge the pervasive beauty myth. Perhaps they don’t want younger women to feel as though they need to inject Botox and lip fillers into their faces in order to be attractive. They might be trying to interrupt the process whereby a cosmetically enhanced look becomes the beauty ideal. ‘Embrace your natural appearance,’ they seem to be saying. ‘We want to see real people, flaws and all.’

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The problem, however, is what happens to women when they do dare to exist in their natural state.

On Thursday morning, News Corp published photos of 26-year-old Jessika kissing fellow Married at First Sight contestant Dan Webb at a Gold Coast beach.

She’s wearing a small blue bikini, and the photos are taken from a number of different angles.

Like 85 per cent of women, Jessika has cellulite.

The social media responses to these photos were perhaps even harsher and crueler than those criticising her lips.

Image via Facebook.

For Jessika, and for women like her, there's no winning.

You're a joke if you cosmetically enhance your appearance, and you're also a joke if you don't.

The answer, according to both camps, seems to be this: Yes, we want women to be natural. But we want them to be naturally attractive.

In a way that eerily resembles the results of cosmetic surgery.

We're entirely stuck.

In an ideal world, the question of whether women's faces and bodies look good, cosmetically enhanced or otherwise, wouldn't be worthy of public discussion. At best, these conversations are superficial, and at worst, they're dangerously objectifying.

But they're conversations that, inevitably, will continue for years to come.

The least we can do is acknowledge the weird and contradictory world we all live in when it comes to how we look - and let that thought act as a filter before we open our mouths.

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