The women of Beauty and the Geek supposedly epitomize beauty. In some ways, they embody feminine hegemonic norms, but they also challenge them at the same time. The beauties work hard to make themselves attractive in order to gain the attention of men. They care deeply about appearances and always want to look good. For example, in the final challenge when there were only three teams left, the contestants had to perform farm duties like milking cows and wrestling sheep. When getting dressed before heading to the farm, the girls found several outfits laid out for them to choose from, and two of the girls decided they would rather look cute and wear the skimpy clothes with high-heeled cowboy boots than dress appropriately for the upcoming farm work. This particular situation might be a bit over-the-top, but it essentially reinforces the feminine ideal of always looking beautiful in hopes of attracting a man. Similarly, some of the women, especially Cecille, talked about how they wanted to marry handsome, rich men and never have to work, which highlights the hegemonic norm that men are the breadwinners and are expected to provide comfortable lives for their wives.
Though these and comparable ideals are shown throughout each episode, the show presents them in such a way that makes them seem ridiculous and unappealing. Obviously, the women of Beauty and the Geek are not representative of all females, but they characterize society’s and popular culture’s idea of beauty. Seeing the women put so much emphasis on looks and material things is supposed to make viewers stop and think about what we really value as a society and how we can (and should) change some of our ideals. As James Lull writes, “Hegemony fails when dominant ideology is weaker than social resistance,” (65) meaning people have the power to transform dominant values and standards when they choose to recognize problems and implement change. Beauty and the Geek, as part of popular culture, presents hegemonic norms in a somewhat negative light, thus attempting to break down the ideals that are perpetuated by popular culture and society as a whole.
Lull, James. "Hegemony." Gender, Race, and Class in Media. Eds. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 61-66.