August 27th, 2016

The greatest makeovers

I’m here to announce another vice. This is a new one, although it also involves an old one—YouTube video chain-watching.

Chain-watching is when you go from one video on a topic to another, sort of like eating a bagful of potato chips. Suddenly you look up from your computer and it’s 3 AM.

My latest discovery is a guy who does makeup and hair makeovers, mostly of middle-aged women, although some are older and some younger. Now, this may not sound very interesting to most of you, but it’s more interesting than it seems, truly. And it’s very interesting to me—not only because I’m a woman of a certain age, but because I’ve always loved makeovers. They’re part of my fascination with change, be it of mind or emotions or body. The first type of change, mind, explains my fascination with political change. The second, emotions, is probably what drew me to training to be a therapist. And the third involves things like these makeovers.

Even as a teenager I had a strong interest in hair and makeup. I don’t think my parents knew what to make of it in such a bookish child, although I had other strong interests as well that vied with my academic bent—dance being one of them, of course. But I was so into hair and makeup that I used to cut out photos from magazines and make a little scrapbook, the only scrapbook I can ever remember making, and in high school and then in college I had a small side business of making up my friends and cutting their hair, for special occasions.

My parents discouraged me, but I persisted. Now with YouTube, the field has greatly proliferated, and these makeover videos are part of the fruit. The ones I’ve been watching are by someone called The Makeover Guy, and every now and then I may present some of my favorites here. The thing about these videos is that the physical transformation is only a small part of it. The truly gripping aspect (to me, anyway) is the transformation in these women’s affect. You can see them come to life and bloom before your eyes. It’s not just about vanity, either. It’s about people treating them like they matter, and about them getting a sense of heretofore undreamed-of possibilities.

I also find that most of the women in the videos are really, really likeable as people. The videos have the advantage of being quite short, too (the better to chain-watch, my dear):

35 Responses to “The greatest makeovers”

  1. JK Brown Says:

    I did a binge recently with Schrodingers Box. He’s a microbiologist who does car repair as a hobby. Only he really believes in diagnosing rather than guess and parts swapping. You can learn a lot about all the new sensors and emissions systems as he figures out ways to test different elements of systems.

    The strange thing is, I don’t ever expect to get back into doing my own repairs.

  2. Irene Says:

    “I’m here to announce another vice.”

    OMG Neo! Why didn’t you warn us it’s contagious!

  3. Cornhead Says:

    Guy is a genius. Made those women younger but not like teenagers.

  4. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    You’re doing my heart a lot of good with posts like these, Neo. Thanks.

  5. Vanderleun Says:

    “Hate that gray?
    Wash it away.”

    “Loving Hair Colors by Clairol”

  6. Instugator Says:

    Great videos, very uplifting.

  7. expat Says:

    I have extremely thick but very fine hair. If I try to curl it it holds for about an hour, then goes straight again from the roots toward the ends. When I was young I tried curlers and perms, but the result was always the same: a few curls at the bottom and straight above. I was in college when Kenneth and Vidal Sasoon became big. I went straight and haven’t changed it except for length since. I should also mention that my hair used to get very oily, so I would add a bit of vinegar to the rinse water. There is no way I would attempt something that would probably mean I’d have to spend half a day every day working on my hair. I’d rather spend my time binging on You Tube with music from my youth, to say nothing of reading Neo.

  8. PA Cat Says:

    Another bookworm here, though never interested in makeovers–my YouTube chain-watching revolves around four major interests: baseball videos (especially baseball bloopers); historical or scientific documentaries; classical music (there are a LOT of live-performance symphony orchestra videos on YouTube); and (ta-DAA!) cat videos.

    Hope Neo won’t ban me for this one: Mr. Met leading the Metropolitan Opera orchestra and chorus in “Meet the Mets”– with a certain theme from Bizet’s opera Carmen clearly audible at the beginning:

    No cats, alas.

    Full disclosure: I am NOT a Mets fan. My team has been so embarrassingly bad this season I refuse to name it.

  9. Francesca Says:

    Love that first video!

  10. Smallish Bees Says:


    Such an interesting post. I hope you won’t mind, but I think I’ll have to use it this article in my lessons. Let me explain. Sorry, it’s longish, and I don’t have the time to properly edit.

    I teach High School English and History at a very small prep school in the suburbs of Chicago, Valeo Academy. Every year we have a k–12 Shakespeare Festival, in which the younger kids perform pieces of Shakespeare plays, and the high school puts on a more-or-less complete play. This year the play is “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Doing my homework, I found that the play-with-a-play, “The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe,” comes from Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.”

    And so that sparked an idea. Over the summer, I’ve been revamping my curriculum to reflect the conception of “Transformation,” or metamorphóō in the Greek. We’ll be doing word studies in the Greek translation of the Bible and Webster’s 1828 Dictionary; drawing upon Ovid and Apuleius; Stevenson’s “Jekyll and Hyde”; C. S. Lewis’s “Till We Have Faces” (which retells Apuleius’s “Metamorphosis,” also called, “The Golden Asse,” in a Christian allegorical reworking); George Eliot’s “Middlemarch,” which can be viewed as a coming-of-age story; “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin”; and a chest-high pile of other cultural material as well.

    When you have a hammer, everything looks like a Transformation meditation, so it’s perhaps predictable that I would find your article compelling. Thank you for giving my students fodder for thinking.

  11. Fausta Says:

    Love the videos!

    I recently had to change my hairstyle after I moved to FL because of the humidity. It took 2 salons and 3 hairstylists (and almost two years) to come up with something that looks good. I even went without a haircut for several months.

    My current chain-watching involves opera, especially Bryn Terfel, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who recently overcame a brain tumor.

    Both Bryn & DH have changed their looks over the decades (Bryn’s the younger of the two).

    Here’s DH’s comeback at the Met during radiation treatment,

  12. leelu Says:

    I saw the same ‘blooming’ effect on “What Not To Wear”. Changing one’s outside can make a huge difference on the inside, and it was a joy to see how the people (mostly women, but they did some men, too) ‘popped’, and the reactions of their family and friends at the reveal.

  13. brdavis9 Says:

    Another glimpse behind the emerald curtain?



  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Smallish Bees:

    How interesting! You sound like an excellent teacher.

    You might be interested in a post I wrote very recently on an aspect of “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” one of my favorite plays.

  15. neo-neocon Says:


    One of my favorite programs, another not-so-secret vice. I was so sad when it ended!

  16. Frog Says:

    Fausta: it will be some years before Dmitri can say he overcame a brain tumor. Right now he’s doing well, but the opera has just begun, and the Fat Lady has not yet sung..

  17. AesopFan Says:

    An interesting conjunction of make-overs and theater.
    I grew up in the era when the concurrent rages were “wear what you want people to think you are” advice for businessmen (and later women – typified by the book “Dress for Success”*), and the “you ought to like me for what I am not what I wear” movement in the colleges (and now everywhere, alas).

    Proponents of the latter thesis had no trouble understanding the purpose of costume and make-up on the stage to suggest or define character, but somehow could not make the transition to private life.

    Of course people “judge” us by what we wear: it tells them what group we want to belong to, and if groups don’t have different philosophies, or at least world-views, they wouldn’t be different.

    AS to the makeovers themselves: the challenge is not in getting the right hairstyle or look, but in maintaining it. Any guesses how long it is before the women in the shows regress to their norm, because they don’t want to put in the time required to keep up the new styles?
    If they really wanted to look that way all the time, they would already be doing it.
    (But it’s still fun to watch; I’m a sucker for Hoarders.)

    *Still active:

  18. snopercod Says:

    Whoever is doing Hillary’s makeup is a 7th level makeover black belt.

  19. Fausta Says:

    Frog, I’m being an optimist

  20. Sheryl Bryant Says:

    Love love love make over videos and vlogs. My favorite vlog right now is Melissa55, but I cruise around different ages and ethnicities. I love to find out what other cultures do in terms of beauty or dressing. If anything watching these kind of videos it reminds me to get out of my yoga pants/jeans and aim for somewhat presentable when I pick up my kids at school.

  21. AesopFan Says:

    Sheryl Bryant Says:
    August 28th, 2016 at 8:29 pm…it reminds me to get out of my yoga pants/jeans and aim for somewhat presentable when I pick up my kids at school.

    * * *
    Sometimes when I picked up my kids and saw what some ofthe moms were wearing, I wondered if I had wandered into a Hooker Convention instead.

  22. Irene Says:

    @ Fausta

    Oh no! We hadn’t heard the news about DM!

    My whole family are huge, huge fans, starting when he came to the Met with the Mariinsky’s War and Peace.

  23. neo-neocon Says:


    I only showed two videos here, but actually the question of upkeep in discussed in many of his videos. He always tries to choose hairstyles that are easy to keep up rather than difficult, and the women all get a lot of instruction on both makeup application and how to do their hair. They explain what their lives are like and how much time and effort they’re willing to devote to such things, and the salon tries to match that as best they can.

  24. Patrick Says:

    I think my favorite part is the series of tags you used.

  25. Csimon621 Says:

    Fun post!

    I thought the first two lookedfBulous (they did… or, they do) but in 2nd video, the woman positively glowed. Hair and makeup and no glasses….but neo, so right: it is amazing how their affect changes.

    And thank you. Just what I needed: something new to aid my procrastination! (not!)5

  26. artfldgr Says:

    Men and women same or else
    Come on guys, we have to watch more or the state w jack you

  27. Fausta Says:

    OT to Irene, Frog, & other Dmitri fans,
    In-depth from Nov 20115 interview here

  28. clarityseeker Says:

    Originally suspected, now assured; You are a bad influence.

  29. clarityseeker Says:

    said with tongue firmly planted in cheek…

  30. John Dough Says:

    Guilty, Guilty, Guilty….. I too have succumbed to You Tube Chain watching…. mostly about my hobby of model and full size trains. I don’t let my grandkids know as I chastise them about their incessant texting…hehehehe

  31. Irene Says:


    Thank you very much, Fausta. I’ve passed it along.

  32. Ymarsakar Says:


  33. Michael Adams Says:

    Those remarks about chain watching YouTube videos, and the incredibly stupid click-bait stories on Breitbart, et al, take me back to elementary school, when I thoroughly hated to be assigned to look up words in the dictionary, because I always, every time, fell into reading the dictionary. It could take me hours. I did indeed, learn a lot of words, way beyond what was assigned, but it was such a mental quicksand.

  34. leelu Says:

    @Michael Adams:

    Yeah, wasn’t it great?

    “Never argue with a man who reads the dictionary for fun.”

  35. Grace Clark Says:

    Thanks Neo…such fun!!!

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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