Photo Credit: nbc.com
There is something kind of magical happening on NBC’s The Voice this season. In case you don’t know what The Voice is, it’s a reality show that, in theory, is about choosing a singer based on their voices alone. Considering that most singers are chosen for their ability to meet an arbitrary standard of beauty -- and the amount of auto-tuning and effects that follow -- this show is kind of on the edge of innovation. In practice the concept only lasts for the first 30 seconds of the very first round. As the judges’ chairs turn, so does the conversation. “That’s not what I expected you to look like!” they would say upon first seeing the contestants. And, because it’s television and you can’t have people looking like slobs on air, the contestants’ wardrobes, hair and bodies start getting made over and soon, looking like The Voice is almost as important as having a voice.
Enter Michelle Chamuel. Michelle is not the cookie cutter social stereotype of beauty. She is geeky and socially awkward (actually spacing out when Usher asked her a question). She has a blunt cut bob, very little make-up and big thick, black glasses. She has completely resisted being gussied up in glitter and false lashes. She is open and vulnerable about how she was bullied growing up -- yet when host Carson Daly nodded to her popularity and commented, "Now you finally fit in," Michelle immediately asserted that fitting in wasn't what she was going for, that she wants people to like her for who she is. And, they are! She is not only one of the leading contestants going into the finals, but people have started to buy and wear big blocky black glasses in a campaign supporting her called #4eyesontheprize.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with glittery mini-dresses and 5 inch stillettos, but what are the odds that every single talented female singer wants to dress like that? Michelle is bravely giving us an example of what the show, and ultimately the world, should be about -- people who are fiercely themselves and are loved and appreciated for it. Imagine the talent we would stop missing out on if, instead of using an arbitrary stereotype of beauty as the litmus test, we liked singers for their ability to sing, actors for their ability to act, dancers for their ability to dance and people for their individual awesomeness. I think we should have all of our eyes on that prize.