Use Hair Extensions, Get a Man?

In TV Guide Network’s Reality Chat, one of the hosts asks Bravo TV’s The Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger,

I love how honest you are. Do any of these women ever talk back and say, ‘Excuse me, but I’m an Amazon, or ‘I don’t want to put in hair extensions’? What do you say to them?

Without pause, Stanger answers, “’Uh, you’re stupid.’ Basically … I am giving you information that the men tell me.” This response elicits laughter; she continues, “As long as [the women] listen to me, get the hair extensions, lose 20 pounds or whatever it takes to get the man, I’m kind.”

Stanger isn’t alone in her dating advice. Whether it is a television matchmaker or the likes of Steve Harvey schooling women on how to be “keepers” rather than “sports fish,” we are constantly being pummeled with all the do’s and don’ts of dating. A huge section of every bookstore is devoted to books giving women advice on how to snag a partner.

My disdain for this advice finally hit its limit watching VH1’s reality show Tough Love: New Orleans. The show follows the formula that hosts Steve Ward and his mother JoAnn employ in their family matchmaking business. In each episode’s opening, Steve says, “No one knows single women like I do,” and then goes on to describe the needy, clueless and lonely behaviors of single women. The selling point is this: He can find you the man of your dreams if only you take his advice and “tough love.”

At the beginning of each 12-episode season, eight contestants–typical Cosmopolitan-cover beauties, always petite, with those hair extensions and layers of make-up–are given nicknames such as “Miss Other Woman” or “Miss Body Issues” to describe their disastrous dating patterns of the past. Each week they must complete several tasks, whether it’s being flirty on a date or playing a makeshift game show in which the women informally talk to a panel of bachelors with the goal of seeing what turns the men on or off.

When contestants are matched with certain men on dates, Steve or JoAnne will remind them, “This is a good guy, a guy like this does not fall out of the sky everyday.” That’s akin to what I heard in my former single life: “Girl, you better keep that man! You don’t know when another good one is going to come along.”

With its cookie-cutter template for dating and relationships, Tough Love once again tells women they can be “rewarded” with love and the ideal guy if only they act a certain way or wear their hair in a certain style. It preys upon the fears and insecurities of many single women, convincing them that something is wrong with them, and it needs to be fixed before they can attract the ideal partner.

How about encouraging a woman to be who she is? How about letting her say, “Screw hair extensions” if she doesn’t like wearing them? How about telling her that there are men who will accept her for being her most genuine self? Heck, there are even men who might find her quite attractive with no makeup!

Despite the overflow of dating advice you might find next to the checkout counter in the grocery store, within the pages of the latest dating advice book or from the “experts” on television, a woman is sure to best find love by looking towards herself and not by being a relationship contortionist to win over a partner. I believe the actor Ingrid Bergman said it best: “Be yourself. The world worships the original.”

Photo of the cast of VH1’s Tough Love: New Orleans from Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons 3.0.



  1. Michelle says:

    Just one of the many tv shows that’s destroying America. lol Seriously.
    Puke-o-rama. And the poor girls that watch this and get influenced by it-my heart goes out to them. What Patti should be saying is that if you want a shallow, metrosexual sexist pig of a man that you also have to be shallow and fake to match. Patti is for sure, a misogynist.

  2. While I share in your general disdain for dating shows that push women to change who they are physically and emotionally to “bag that guy,” I think adding Steve Harvey into that wall of misdirection in the media is not completely wise. If you read the book in question that you alluded to, you would see that the information presented helps women understand what men really want in life AND in relationships. Once that foundation is set, it is women’s CHOICE on how they proceed depending on what they want from them.

    • Laurean-
      It is ALWAYS “women’s CHOICE on how they proceed depending on what they want from them.” The problem is that when women and especially impressionable young girls are told over and over again that their so-called choices are limited by the degree to which they conform to the “Harvey-esque” male ideal (i.e., big boobs, big hair, perfect teeth and a miniature brain.) they begin to believe that failing to conform is the equivalent of a dating death wish. LOOK at the women in the picture above, for Heaven’s sake!! Not one has less than a “”C” cup underneath her skin tight dress and if one of them wears over a size “6” I’d be shocked. They all have perfect teeth, teeny little waists, a ton of expensive make-up and are dressed in posture-destroying stiletto heels…all to ostensibly capture the attention of some imaginary guy!

      The really sad part of this nonsense is that if women REALLY wanted to know what men want all they need to do is sit down and listen. Men love to talk about themselves..hell, we all do! And what they will tell you if you ask is that they like to fantasize about “Barbie” but they fall in love with REAL women with flaws just like their own. They want someone with compassion, sensitivity, a sense of humor, and enough self-esteem not to fall for the clap-trap of guys like Steve Harvey…in other words, plumbing aside, they want the same exact thing as you. If you doubt that,go to the grocery store tomorrow and take a look at the women who are shopping with men. Do ANY of them look remotely like the women up there??

      You’re picture is that of a lovely young woman. I simply cannot believe that you think you need advice from a guy like Steve Harvey to find a good man.

  3. B-thorne says:

    I agree with you Michelle!Thank you Shanta Crowley for criticizing this appalling show.I’ve been bitching about it since the first season(Tough Love).That guy is disgusting and probably lives with his mom.He clearly hates women and himself like Patti Stanger.Steve Harvey is just as bad.

  4. I have watched the show and really it is not what I thought it was. Looking at all those girls with big boobs and seriously heavy make up and totally have nothing else to talk about except on how unlucky they were when in fact they are more lucky than anyone else.. Really, I was disappointed to the highest level. I can’t see ho hair extensions gets in the way to get yourself a man.

    • Iliana Echo says:

      Sorry, but I have to call you on the “boob” comment. You do know that real-life women (myself included) can grow big breasts, right? Putting big boobs in the same sentence with the makeup comment suggests they’re somehow unnatural.

      • What I think the author is saying is not that there’s anything wrong with big boobs, but that there’s something wrong with us believing that this is the ONLY acceptable way for a woman to look. There is nothing wrong with being svelte either…I’m a size 4 myself, but that doesn’t mean everyone should look like me. I get attacked for being naturally slim all the time, and I’ve had to learn not to take this personally and realize that the media has destroyed people’s perception of women who are my size and fed them a bunch of garbage about the type of woman I must be. It’s not that big boobs are bad or unnatural, it’s just that not everyone needs to have them. I just long for the day when NONE of us have to defend how our bodies look to the masses. THAT is the point.

  5. Commical that succesful dating could ever be tied to hair extensions.

    Relashionships are built on a foundation of appearance.

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