July 27, 2010

Charice misses the point of Glee

(Charice, before Botox and Thermage. Photo from Pinoy Paparazzi)

HOLY Botox, Batman! That teenage singer Charice Pempengco’s got a new face! The question is, why?

Okay, so Charice says she did it because she wants to be “fresh on camera” for her appearances on the hit US series Glee (which used to be my favorite TV show). I didn’t know an 18-year-old was already considered tired and ancient. Damn, now what would that make 45-year-old me?

Charice added: “Lahat po ng mga tao inaasahan nila, ‘Ano kaya ‘yong itsura ni Charice? Karapat-dapat ba siyang itapat kay Rachel Berry?’ So, siyempre sobrang laki ng pressure,” she said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.

Isn’t it ironic that Charice chose to have her facial features enhanced when Glee is all about celebrating natural beauty and being true to oneself?

I remember one particular episode, for instance, where the rotund Mercedes Jones (played by Amber Riley) desperately tried to lose weight because cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester threatened to kick her off the team if she couldn’t wear the standard female cheerleading uniform of a short skirt and sleeveless shirt. It was former Cheerios star Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) who had to remind Mercedes that she used to be so secure in her own beauty; no one should make her feel bad about herself. And it’s true, despite Mercedes/Amber’s heft, her talent and self-confidence makes her shine through, which is why she is one of the most admired characters among the Glee cast.

I’m aghast that Charice’s own mother, Raquel, allowed her daughter to undergo the cosmetic procedures, although technically at 18, she is considered an adult and capable of making her own decisions.

What’s more disturbing is that Charice’s cosmetologist, Dr. Vicky Belo reinforced the teenager’s lack of self-confidence by encouraging her to undergo the Botox and Thermage treatments! I’m surprised she didn’t even push the young singer to get a boob job!

But I’m pretty sure the doktora, who’s already been involved in a number of controversial issues in the past, is enjoying this bit of notoriety again. Anything to publicize the clinic for free, huh? And to use Charice in this manner…tsk, tsk, tsk. Shouldn’t the Philippine Medical Association be investigating the blatant promotion tactics of this doktora of her clinic? From what I know, other countries have strict laws against doctors advertising or actively promoting their practice. Why this unethical practice has been allowed to run unabated by the PMA is anybody’s guess. As they say, only in the Philippines!

For those who still don’t know, Botox is short for Botulinum toxin; in other words, it is a poison. It is frequently used in cosmetic procedures to smoothen out lines and wrinkles one one’s face, because it basically paralyzes the muscles. It is seen as a cheaper and less invasive alternative to a face lift, although the effects last only from four to six months.

So now, Charice has to go back to her doktora once her face starts swelling up again. This is for life, do you understand that Charice? Every six months you need to go back to your doktora and have her stick the needle along your jawline and shoot you up with poison to relax your facial muscles!

Aside from Botox injections, which reportedly made Charice cry, she also underwent a treatment called Thermage. According to the Thermage web site, it is “a safe, non-invasive, radiofrequency cosmetic procedure that’s clinically proven to help smooth, tighten and contour skin for an overall younger looking appearance. The treatment delivers natural looking results with little to no downtime—on all skin colors, on and off the face, all in a single procedure.” Obviously, both the Botox and Thermage procedures were designed for older people who already experience some slackness in their facial skin.

But according to Dr. Belo, Botox and Thermage were used to narrow the singer’s “naturally round face.” Then the doktora added that Charice’s face was getting wider because she chews gum. So couldn’t you just have told Charice to stop the habit, doktora? Of course, now that even the Hollywood press has played up this controversy, the doktora is now saying Charice is suffering from a medical condition called bruxism, which makes her involuntarily grind her teeth when she sleeps. Yeah right.

Charice didn’t look bad before she underwent her cosmetic procedures. In fact, she’s cute in a bibingka sort of way. But her fans admire her not because of how she looks but because of her powerful voice. She landed her recording contract and that spot on Glee because she could bring audiences to their knees. Oprah even called her “the most talented girl in the world!” And still the young lady (frankly I thought she was just 15) wasn’t happy with how she looked. Naku Charice, lagot ka ke Ninang Oprah!

Of course this just reminds me of singer Lani Misalucha who I already thought was smoking hot especially with her set of pipes, and currently wowing audiences in Las Vegas. I saw her in a feature by Cheche Lazaro’s Profiles sometime last year, and hardly recognized her! The only thing that was really wrong with her was her teeth – easily replaced with a new set of dentures or jackets. But it looked like she had a rhinoplasty to get rid of her typical Pinoy nose, and something certainly was done to her eyes and her chin. Apparently she made a local TV appearance recently that my friend Viola described her as “Madam Auring’s long-lost daughter.” Ach.

Then of course, there was Gretchen Barretto who also tampered with her already oh-so-lovely face and had what looked like a cheek implants. (Years ago, there were rumors of a lip injection as well.) Already so gorgeous (and rich!), and still not happy? Did Gretchen’s daughter stop telling her in the morning how beautiful she was, she had to tweak her face? Or was the man leaving? All the cosmetic procedures in the world won’t keep your man beside you, hon. Tsk, tsk.

Perhaps we just don’t understand the “pressures” Charice and all these other celebrities are under. If you spend your life under the spotlight, sooner or later, the cameras are going to notice your “flaws”. All I know is, if Barbra Streisand had fixed her schnozz, she probably wouldn’t have the success that she’s had. She never gave in to constant appeals of the idiots around her to have her oversized Jewish nose reworked. She knew that it was her voice that would carry her through every audition and every singing gig. Such moxie! And that nose is what gives Ms. Barbra character.

(If there’s anything that Charice should actually change is her fashion style. With all her earnings, she could very well afford her own personal stylist. You see her being photographed in ill-fitting hats, wearing Madonna-era black lacey gloves, then what about that ghastly Jollibee terno during President Aquino’s inauguration, huh? Ick.)

This is why I’ve always maintained that Charice is so wrong for Glee. She certainly missed the point of the show.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. This piece was originally published on July 22, 2010.)

(Charice - after the Botox and Thermage.)

(UPDATE:) While many doctors will swear to the safety of botox to the body - even my own board-certified dermatologist says so - my own research shows there really is no long-term study yet that supports this, except for the one drawn up by Botox's producer. If you still want to continue to inject it in your face, I'm not gonna stop you. What most dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons apparently object to was the use of Thermage on Charice, when, as I've already mentioned, it's a procedure meant for older people. So there.

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