Where do we even begin?!

There's so much going on in this edition, so let's start out with a couple of very special announcements:

With the 15th Anniversary of Designing Women fast approaching, "Belled" would like to celebrate with a contest for all DWFC members!

The Designing WomenTo enter the "What Ever Happened To...?" contest, simply write out your idea of where one of the DW supporting characters might be today. All contest entries must be a full paragraph, and must be focused on a supporting character or memorable guest character from the Designing Women series. Main DW characters may only be included as to their involvement with the subject's current life or situation.

"What Ever Happened To...?" examples with similar themes can be found in this issue as well as at:

Example One            Example Two

All entries must be received by September 15, 2001 to be included in the judging, and will become the property of "Belled" and subject to use in future editions. The "Belled" staff will choose the winner, so be imaginative and detailed -- there are seven years worth of characters to choose from!! The most creative and innovative idea will be awarded with an 8x10 of the famous black and white photo shown here with the ladies in the Southern Belle dresses. The winning entry will also appear in our special DW 15th Anniversary issue.

As for this current issue, "Belled" explores cosmetic surgery for women -- inspired by Bernice's procedure in the DW episode "The Emperor's New Nose" and Mary Jo's obsession with breast augmentation in "Big Haas and Little Falsie." We also preview a new comedy series from the creators of DW, and -- because you demanded it -- we have information on the status of a DW reunion and how you can affect it!

We'd also like to welcome Tara Sweeney to the "Belled" editorial staff! Tara joins us as a researcher and Assistant Editor, and we'd like to thank her for much of the background in this month's feature.

So have fun, and don't forget to submit your entries for "What Ever Happened To...?" to!

Nipped, Tucked & Lifted

Designing Women's Images Through Cosmetic Surgery

All quotes and story references in this article are from the 'Designing Women' episodes "The Emperor's New Nose" and "Big Haas and Little Falsie."

SUZANNE: I know you all think that I'm just silly and selfish and shallow, but I do know what the most important thing in life is.
JULIA: (wistfully) Friendship.
SUZANNE: No!! Lookin' good!

Throughout the seven seasons of Designing Women, the concept of physical beauty was held up to the screen as if a mirror in many ways. By virtue of its subjectivity, there are many facets to physical beauty and our perceptions of it; in particular, cosmetic surgery played a principal role in two episodes: "Big Haas and Little Falsies" (Season Three) and "The Emperor's New Nose" (Season Five).

BERNICE: I'm having my face lifted. Not only that, I'm having my nose done and my face lypo-sucked. I considered having breast implants and a buttock-enhancement, but I thought that might be too much.
JULIA: Yes, Bernice, that would definitely be too much surgery.
BERNICE: No, I meant too much money. New buttocks don't come cheap.

For many people, the term 'cosmetic surgery' is synonymous with 'facelift.' While people have traditionally spoken more often of facelifts, cosmetic surgery can range from rhinoplasty to tattoo removal, as well as from hair transplants/restoration to several forms of implants. It's amazing what you can have tucked, lifted or reconstructed these days!

Mary Jo with her 'samples'In the first of the two DW cosmetic surgery episodes, Mary Jo decides to spend a $3000 inheritance on breast implants. In order to have the surgery, however, she needs to decide on a cup size and takes some 'samples' on a test run. With each increased cup size, her personality changes, illustrating the correlation between the physical and emotional. Mary Jo *feels* different and so her personality changes. She exudes more confidence.

CHARLENE: Mary Jo, I can't believe you want to have that done! What's wrong with your chest?
MARY JO: Well, in case you haven't noticed, Charlene, I don't have one.

Mary Jo's original intent in considering breast enlargement surgery seems to focus on her perception that there are two groups of women -- the haves and the have nots, and that the "haves" get all the attention from the men; she wants that attention, as well as the respect of the other "haves." She feels as though she's missing (or at least missing out on) something. As her 'testing' progresses, however, Mary Jo comments: "I think these things are supposed to make you feel more feminine, but they make me feel aggressive -- you know, kind of macho like. I tell you, if I go up to a D-cup, I think I could get into a fist fight." As it turns out, Mary Jo decides that the test doesn't make the grade and ultimately spends her inheritance on video conference phones for herself, her friends, and their significant others.

Two seasons later, Bernice finds the need to look younger so important that she borrows against her life insurance to pay for the procedure. Despite her enthusiasm, she eventually allows the ladies of Sugarbaker's to talk her down from the extensive surgery she had planned to a simple nip and tuck around the eyes and the rhinoplasty -- which, as Julia points out, is "vulgarly called a nose job."

Though Julia, in particular, urges Bernice not to pay attention to the media images of (in Bernice's case) aging women and physical beauty, Bernice points out : "Jane Fonda keeps telling us that the aging process is natural and beautiful, and if we just keep doing those squats and donkey-kicks, everything will be hunky-dory. Meanwhile, she sneaks out and gets her boobs done."

Since Designing Women aired this episode 1991, the popularity of cosmetic surgery has continued to increase. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 7.4 million Americans chose cosmetic plastic surgery last year, and the majority of those patients were women. The Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation states that the five most popular invasive surgical procedures in 2000 involved either nose reshaping, liposuction, eyelid surgery, breast augmentation or facelifts.

In fact, in 2000 alone, there were 300,000 nose reshaping procedures to change the shape or size of the nose. Throughout the years, it was common for teenagers to have rhinoplasty, but today there is a surprising trend in nasal surgeries being performed on older people. People in their twenties, thirties and even forties are finally taking care of the that attenuated nose or bothersome bump they've detested for years.

SUZANNE: When Bernice gets here, I don't care if she looks like something the cat threw up. The only thing she wants to hear is 'You look fabulous!'

It's clear the ladies aren't thrilled about Bernice's decision; nevertheless, the decision is made and they do their best to support it. In fact, they support it so much, they're not quite sure what to do when Bernice's surgery renders her...... Well, in the words of an objective observer at a department store: "Hey Mommy! That lady looks like Miss Piggy!"

In the case of Bernice, the procedure did not result in the desired effect. Not only did Bernice not recognize herself or feel comfortable with her own reflection, but those around her had a difficult time getting used to her new nose -- and for that matter -- new face! Granted, DW presented the situation in a humorous vein and suggested that the results of the procedure were a result of the doctor's incompetence, but the reality is that surgery does not always produce the desired psychological effect.

BERNICE: I knew something was terribly wrong. A person isn't supposed to jump when they see themselves in the mirror.

Bernice and CharleneIn many situations, the patient's expectations of how they will feel or look after the procedure is unrealistic, leading them to schedule further unnecessary surgery hoping to eventually fill the missing void. (BERNICE: Y'know, now that I've had time to live with my new face, I think my profile needs a chin implant. ) Other times, the doctor shoulders the blame ‹ even when his/her work is not at fault. However, there are also many cases of physicians not being properly skilled or not pre-qualifying their patients emotionally prior to any surgery.

Choosing a qualified plastic surgeon with the appropriate credentials is vital. According to Dr. Jean M. Loftus, a nationally recognized female plastic surgeon, and, cosmetic surgery candidates should take the following steps:

  • Check and know the education of the physician.
  • Verify that the physician is Board Certified.
  • Confirm the physician is licensed to practice medicine in the state he/she is located.
  • Investigate past or pending civil or criminal actions.
  • Even after taking these precautions, it's important to remember that although cosmetic surgery can have very positive results -- both physically and psychologically, all invasive surgeries have medical risks. The most common risks with rhinoplasty, for instance, are bleeding, infection and the occurrence of visible irregularities ( We need only look to Bernice for an example of at least one of these risks!

    CHARLENE: I guess women can get a lot of their self-image wrapped up in [their breasts]. It's kind of like men and their......y'know.

    In terms of gender, men have decided this not just for women anymore. After all, cosmetic surgery is an equal opportunity commodity. Unlike many women, however, men are often driven to cosmetic surgery by professional competition -- not physical beauty -- and the number of procedures performed on men has increased rapidly in the past few years. reports that rhinoplasty and eyelid surgery are the most common cosmetic surgery procedures among men, with even facelifts now becoming routine.

    JULIA: Mary Jo, if this is something you've always wanted to do you should go ahead and do it; you don't have to explain yourself to us. Everybody is different. I, myself, have always been quite happy with what I was given.

    Plastic surgery isn't always the answer and it will not solve all problems. Expectations should be realistic. It is unwise to expect that cosmetic surgery can cure a troubled marriage, significantly improve one's success in the job market, or reinstate one's youth. We have to constantly remind to focus our expectations on the way we feel about ourselves and the impact that a physical change could have on that feeling.

    For many people, cosmetic surgery can drastically improve self image, but it is not the solution for everyone. When considering an operation, it is important to examine the reasons for such surgery. Sometimes before changing the shape or our bodies, the first problem that needs our attention is in our heads, starting with some basic changes in our attitudes ‹ like being kinder to ourselves.

    **To find a plastic surgeon in your area or to learn more about cosmetic surgery, call the Plastic Surgery Information Service at (888) 4-PLASTIC

    Plastic Surgery Information Service

    Emeril Lagasse & Linda Bloodworth
    -- A Recipe For Comedy --

    After a 6-year hiatus, DW creators Linda Bloodworth and Harry Thomason are back on network TV producing a new half-hour comedy featuring Superchef Emeril Lagasse.

    Emeril Lagasse, Sherri Shepherd and Lisa Ann WalterWritten by Linda Bloodworth and directed by her husband Harry Thomason, Emeril essentially stars Lagasse as himself in the role of a likable and popular chef who struggles to meet the shifting demands of his popular cable TV cooking series and numerous other requirements as America's top culinary expert. Lisa Ann Walter (Life's Work) and Sherri Shepherd (The Jamie Foxx Show) star respectively, as his brassy producer and outspoken stage manager who provide the spice and sass -- proven ingredients in any Linda Bloodworth concoction.

    Inspired by Lagasse's theatrics on his cable cooking shows, Emeril Live and Essence of Emeril, Linda came up with the idea for the comedy series and soon sold it to NBC. But the New Orleans-based Mr. Lagasse still will be cooking on his Food Network shows, which are produced in New York, while taping the sitcom in Los Angeles. NBC and the Food Network "have worked out a schedule" that will keep him running between coasts, Mr. Thomason says. "We're all cooperating with each other, as it's in our best interests."

    Famous for assembling stellar cast ensembles, Linda has pulled together strong supporting players to distract Emeril from his culinary focus. In addition to Walter and Shepherd, Carrie Preston (The Legend of Bagger Vance) appears as Emeril's flighty food stylist, and Robert Urich (Spenser: For Hire) plays his agent -- offering a rare and much appreciated male point-of-view. Emeril must also deal with his teenaged son (newcomer James Lafferty) -- who works as an intern on his show -- as well as his neglected wife (Mary Page Keller, Life Goes On) and a self-righteous network executive (Tricia O’Kelley, Everybody Loves Raymond).

    James Lafferty"We have a show featuring great food and the wonderfully charismatic Emeril who is surrounded by self-assured, terminally opinionated women," says a candid Bloodworth. "What’s not to like?"

    In addition, viewers can access recipes used by Emeril during the course of an episode by logging on to the

    Linda Bloodworth is the creator and executive producer and Harry Thomason is the executive producer and director of the series from NBC Studios. Although a premiere date has yet to be set, NBC plans to air Emeril as part of its fall Tuesday night lineup.

    **Source: NBC Publicity
    Photo credit: Chris Haston

    The Designing WomenFor "Belled" and DWT, no other subject generates more mail than a Designing Women Reunion, and now we finally have information on where to direct your reunion requests!

    Fans have been clamoring for it for months, and the recent buzz initiated by Dixie and Delta regarding a potential reunion show is starting to spread as other cast members join them in expressing their interest.

    While there is nothing officially in the works yet, DW fans who would like to see a reunion show can make an impact the old fashioned way -- writing letters.

    Since DW originally aired on CBS and Linda Bloodworth's new series will be premiering on NBC, those are two good places to start -- and there is no question that traditional snail-mail will be more effective (look at how it saved the original series!). So with that in mind, please direct your letters to the following:

    Leslie Moonves, President
    CBS Televison City
    7800 Beverly Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90036
    Jeff Zucker, President
    NBC Studios
    3000 W. Alameda Ave
    Burbank, CA 91523

    Please keep in mind that the first step is to get a network interested, and then they'll potentially take steps to develop the project. Those of us at "Belled," DWT, and the actors' individual sites, as well as the cast, love reading and hearing your ideas and support regarding a reunion, but petitioning networks through letter-writing is the only way for fans to truly have an impact. In fact, since networks rely so heavily on demographics, including your age (or age range) in your letters could prove beneficial, as well.

    So now you know where to begin, and as your inside source to Designing Women, "Belled" will be the first to bring you news of any developments!

    ...Randa Oliver

    "While attending college for Art & Design, Randa gets engaged and becomes president of her sorority house. Once in office she enlists the help of Sugarbaker's to redecorate the house from top to bottom. The two sides have clashing opinions about decorating and Randa fires them -- thinking she's gotten rid of them until Julia gives her a tongue-lashing that makes her change her mind. She decides to intern at Sugarbaker's where she learns all the tricks of the design trade, but the company soon finds itself in financial difficulty and is forced to sell some of the company stock to generate cash flow. Because of her admiration for her mentor Julia, Randa buys the extra shares of Sugarbaker's, which makes her a junior partner in the firm. Then on her wedding day -- just hours before her dreaded trip down the isle, Randa skips town and heads to Vegas. Having grown up in a regal and uptight household, she decides to throw caution to the wind when she meets and falls in love with an Elvis impersonator -- whom she weds five days later." (Submitted by Tara)

    Don't forget to Email "Belled" with reader feedback and to tell us where you think the "Designing Women" characters would be today for future issues!

    (69) What new business 'toy' do Charlene and Anthony try out in this episode?

    (70) The doctor tells Bernice she has the same bone structure as which celebrity?

    (71) It upsets Suzanne to look at Bernice's new face because it reminds her of whom?

    (72) The computerized reconstruction sample the doctor did for Anthony looked like which celebrity?

    * Answers will appear in the next issue.

    Trivia Answers from Issue #17
    From 'Any Day Now'

    (65) Which of M.E.'s relatives was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan?

    Her uncle

    (66) What did Colliar and M.E. name their first born child?


    (67) What role did guest Delta Burke play on the series?

    M.E.'s sister Teresa, as an adult

    (68) What caused the biggest rift between Rene's brother and the family?

    He is a homosexual