A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Lots of digging into the history of beauty industry, with some surprising information being uncovered—did you know that actress Tippi Hedren is largely responsible for propelling the Vietnamese community toward nail salon ownership in the mid-'70s? Likewise, the fourth episode delves into the history of Black hair in America. Scientists explain what various chemicals do and how they affect the human body.
Each episode contains advice on ways the viewers can make positive changes in their own lives and communities. The show can inspire conversations about ethics, honesty, and responsibility.
Positive Role Models
The series weaves together commentary from scientists, consumer advocates, and others who are focused on safety and health and will do whatever it takes to make others aware of the dangers they've uncovered and experienced.
The series helps expose the ways that historically vulnerable communities have been subjected to unacceptable risks, such as Vietnamese manicurists developing respiratory issues as a result of the toxic fumes in nail polish. The show delves into different facets of the cosmetic industry and the ways certain ethnic groups came to be involved in them and/or are affected by them.
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Violence & Scariness
The mistreatment of prisoners (primarily Black males) being used as test subjects and injected with asbestos is abhorrent; the series shows photos of these men with their backs covered in bandages after receiving the shots. The prospect of potential illness and disease resulting from using everyday body care products -- and the stories shared by those who have gone through this -- may be upsetting to sensitive viewers.
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Products & Purchases
Brand names come up, as products from various companies are talked about and investigated.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Not So Pretty is an investigative docuseries exploring the use of dangerous chemicals within the beauty and body-care industry. There are numerous discussions about the health problems people have incurred as a result of using these products, ranging from respiratory issues to cancer. The series uncovers disturbing information about methods used by companies to test the safety and efficacy of their products, such as Johnson & Johnson testing their asbestos-laden talcum powder by injecting it into the skin of inmates. There's a lot of scientific jargon, but narrator Keke Palmer breaks things down in a way that makes it easier for young people to understand -- the animated graphics are helpful as well.
Is It Any Good?
The tone is a bit dry at times, but the series opens up an important conversation about ethics within the beauty industry, and adequate health and safety regulations for consumers and workers alike. Not So Pretty is bound to leave viewers gobsmacked when they see, for instance, a corporation like Claire's denying that their toy eyeshadow palettes contain asbestos -- despite ample evidence from repeated laboratory tests that prove otherwise.
We learn about the slimy methods companies use to shirk responsibility for these issues, and about how frustratingly ineffectual the Food & Drug Administration is because they have no authority when it comes to the regulation of cosmetic products. There's a lot of info relayed here, but episodes are kept short for maximum absorption. Lest you walk away completely despondent after viewing, the show provides recommendations for apps and websites viewers can use to check the safety of the products in their homes, as well as general dos and don'ts and advice on petitions to be signed.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.