NPR logo Just Schaden, No Freude: In Which I Discuss Both The Hills And ANTM On NPR's Website

Just Schaden, No Freude: In Which I Discuss Both The Hills And ANTM On NPR's Website

Heidi Montag

Heidi Montag, post-surgery. David Becker/Getty hide caption

toggle caption David Becker/Getty

Last night, I had the distinctly unfamiliar sensation of wanting to put my arms around Heidi Montag. (I am so serious about this that I will not even make the obvious joke about her new top-half.) The sixth season of the reality drama that made her a star — among other things — began its final season with a rush of actual emotion, despite its reputation (The Hills is very infrequently accused of eliciting real emotion from anyone — despite Lauren's famed mascara explosion). In case you have been successful in avoiding the more venial pop culture stories sweeping the tabloids, in January, Heidi revealed that she had ten —TEN — plastic surgeries in one day, including a brow lift (she's 23) and a mysterious procedure called "back scooping." Let me just say, though, that I generally do not care about plastic surgery, and in most cases have a "live and let Botox philosophy." I encourage re-invention of most kinds. But there is something absolutely astounding about Heidi's complete re-carve of herself. I have never wanted to make fun of someone less.

Last night, The Hills showed Heidi's return to her hometown of Crested Butte, Colorado (maybe "Crested Butte" is German for "Back Scooping"?), where her mother proceeded to act... like a human being. "Do I look good?" asked Heidi, softly, because her jaw was sore. "Of course I thought you were more beautiful before," her mother, Darlene Egelhoff, said. "I thought you were younger, I thought you were fresher looking, I thought you were healthier. What's done is done."

Yes — what's done is done. You can't un-cook the chicken. Also, she's in pain, a lot of it. She risked her life, as her mother pointed out. But here's the hardest part of watching this. Heidi's tiny little voice... asking, "Do I look good?" I have asked so many people that question in so many incarnations. How do I look? Do you see who I am? Do I look like me, the best version of me? Do I look... good? Can I be myself now, in this skin? Now, carved and pinned and shaved and pushed and scooped, Heidi Montag looks the most real she ever has — and I can hardly bear to look at how much she hates herself. If there is one thing that Tyra has taught us it is that your smile has to reach your eyes. (That's right. Smize.) Heidi's smile doesn't even reach her mouth anymore. When she started to cry, I felt the overwhelming urge to hug her. Though, she pointed out to her mother, she needs to be treated gently — she's still fragile.

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