Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

More New Wage opportunists

"Cry pretty!"
Trauma image consultants help folks look good in trying times

Sonoma, CA (API) – In these tech-happy times, when everyone packs a camera of some type 24/7, there is no such thing as privacy. There's always the possibility that no matter what type of awkward or tragic situation you find yourself in, someone will be there to snap your picture and make it instantly available to a worldwide audience on the Internet. Needless to say, this can result in some pretty embarrassing and unflattering portrayals. But there's good news.

"Even when your world is falling apart, you can still look great," says Celeste Chull, CTC, PITC, a Certified Trauma Coach and Personal-Image Trauma Consultant. With over a decade of experience in this heretofore little known but rapidly growing area of the personal-image consulting business, Chull makes her living helping trauma and tragedy victims who are caught in the public eye look and sound their best. And as one of the top-paid producers of the trauma image consulting company, TrauMagic®,* Celeste has seen it all – and has helped make it all look a little better for public consumption.

Chull began her trauma-image consulting career as a Public Medical Emergency Specialist, showing up at accident scenes to help victims of car crashes, office-building bombings or natural disasters look a little more attractive for the camera crews as the EMTs were working on them. Although she has worked in all areas of trauma-victim image support, she now concentrates on Public Grief Personal Image Consulting, specializing in school shootings.

"Unfortunately for the victims, although not for the news media and the members of my industry, our world today is full of public-grief photo ops," she says. "And because local, national and international TV news media are under increasing pressure to photograph and record the minutiae of every tragedy and disaster – even soliciting the contributions of everyday folks with camera phones – countless thousands of people are caught in the public eye not looking their best.

"Teenagers, in particular, are very self-conscious about their looks, and often are more traumatized by seeing an unflattering photo of themselves than they are by the original tragedy or trauma," she explains. "No matter what situation may have caused the grief, some are scarred for life by looking like, as one victim put it, ‘a big blubbering geek’ on the front page of every newspaper in the country."

That’s a big reason that Chull decided to focus her expertise on school shootings. "If I can save just one young person from being devastated by a personal public-image crisis in the midst of a larger tragedy, that makes my job worth it," she says. One of the first things Chull does is to teach her young and mostly female clients how to "cry pretty," as she calls it. "Think Rosanna Arquette during her arrest scene in The Whole Nine Yards," Chull says. "Actually, that was more of a ‘cry cute’ technique, which doesn’t work well with all teens, but in many cases a modified version of ‘crying cute’ is just the ticket."

Whether it’s a cry-pretty or cry-cute situation, Chull and her crew of makeup artists, stylists, and other experts hover around to make sure the young client looks front-page worthy while engaging in a tearful group hug or placing a Teddy bear or flower on a makeshift memorial. Sometimes it takes several hugs or memorial-item placements for Chull to be satisfied that her client has achieved optimal photo appeal. "It’s just like shooting a movie scene," Chull explains. "Sometimes you need several ‘takes’ to get it just right."

You would think the news media would resent the intrusion of Chull and her colleagues. After all, doesn’t the presence of a trauma-image consultant cramp their style, putting a damper on their candid-photo ops? It’s understandable that victims would welcome Chull and her colleagues, but don’t the news media hate them?

Surprisingly, though, media people are for the most part very supportive, and Chull has an explanation. While grief and tragedy always spell ratings gold – hence the old journalists’ axiom, "If it bleeds, it leads" – countless surveys have shown that readers and viewers would rather look at attractive victims than ugly ones. In the case of school shootings, for example, many news outlets have taken to using stock photos of attractively grieving teens, sometimes in posed situations, rather than the unpleasant-looking adolescents who so often blight the actual scenes. But many news sources don’t like doing this, since some critics perceive this practice as being a little dishonest, and that could potentially harm ratings. Most news outlets would prefer to run photos or footage of the actual participants in a public tragedy. "It's easier for all involved if the subjects are spruced up a little bit," says Chull, "not so much that they don't look tragic, of course, just so that they're a little more appealing to the camera's eye."

A little-known secret is that some major broadcast and cable networks are hiring trauma image teams of their own to accompany reporters and camera crews to tragedy and disaster sites to "pretty-up" the victims and get the "aesthetic challenges" – the hopelessly unattractive victims – discreetly out of the way. Chull is on permanent retainer with one of the top news networks; her confidentiality agreement prevents her from naming the network, of course, but she will say that her team's input has made her client's coverage of tragedies, as she puts it, "even more 'fair and balanced' than it previously was." She adds, "Because of our efforts, this network is achieving incredible AV/HAT (attractive victims per hour of air time) numbers."

The media's desire for attractive victims is one reason it is so satisfying for Chull to work with school shootings rather than tragedies involving an older demographic. "There’s more to work with because for the most part, students are attractive to begin with merely by virtue of being young," she says. "Taking the rough edges off of their grief is a lot easier than, say, making a sixty-year-old car wreck victim look good. Of course, there is the growing problem, so to speak, of so many young people being overweight – to tell the truth, there are a lot more porky teens waddling around the high-school campuses these days than there were even a few years ago – but for an extra fee we can Photoshop™ that problem away, at least in still photos."

Schools have embraced the trauma-image consultants’ art too, often hiring them to do group sessions so that all of the grieving teens in a given photo op can look as appealing as possible. Of course, trauma image consulting comes at a price, and it’s not cheap. While group rates are available for schools, not every school district can afford the service. For individuals – whether they’re car-accident victims or school-shooting witnesses – the fee usually begins at $350.00 an hour, depending upon the severity of the situation and the baseline attractiveness of the client. Expenses are extra, as is Photoshopping™, which generally begins at $100.00 an hour.

This is no problem for the affluent, but folks on a budget still generally have to settle for looking pretty darn awful when they’re crying, vomiting, or bleeding from a major artery while the cameras are on them. To Chull, this is a gross injustice. "Everybody deserves the right to look good at all times," she says, "particularly when their privacy is being invaded at their most vulnerable moments." Accordingly, she and her colleagues in the US are pressing for legislation that will require the government to pay for trauma-image consulting for those who can’t afford it. Other industrialized countries are following suit, and many trauma victims are suing their governments for not providing funding for this increasingly necessary service.

Since most tragedies and disasters take the victims by surprise, many affluent clients are now putting their trauma-image consultants on retainer. That way the consultant or one of his or her colleagues is on 24-hour call, able to rush to the victim’s side at a moment’s notice. For a hefty extra fee, the consultant will accompany the client everywhere she or he goes. "In some US high schools, a student having a personal-image consultant by his or her side is even more of a status symbol than a Lamborghini, an infant, or a grad-present boob job," says Chull. "And even if a tragedy never occurs, the student and her parents have the reassurance of knowing that the consultant is there to protect and enhance the student's image, no matter what. It's kind of like having a public-image bodyguard. Way cool."

But it's grief and tragedy that are the hot commodities with the public these days, and the public-grief industry as a whole is booming, opening up new career opportunities for everyone from Certified Public Grief Counselors to purveyors of grief accessories. Chull herself is half-owner of GriefExpressions, the country’s top producer of prefab makeshift memorials and makeshift memorial kits. "We sell everything you could possibly need to fashion your own makeshift memorial – stuffed animals, dolls, plastic flowers, ribbons, posters, crosses, plastic Jesuses and other religious symbols, and more," she explains. "For those who are in a bit of a hurry, our prefab memorials are ideal. We have everything from small wreaths to giant fence or wall memorials, all professionally crafted to look as if they were created by grief-stricken people with limited artistic abilities." The wall and fence memorials consist of a section of fence or a fiberglass wall, plastered with Teddy bears, dolls, stuffed rabbits, plastic flowers, ribbons, tennis shoes and appropriate tear-stained handwritten notes. They are lightweight and can easily be propped up against a real fence or wall at the tragedy scene.

For the client who really wants to splurge, complete Public Grief Packages are available. These include any one of several models of wall or fence makeshift memorials, and up to six smaller portable memorials, as well as two days’ worth of services from a trauma-image consultant team (including a professional makeup artist and a Certified Crying Coach). Also included are a counseling session with a Certified Public Grief Counselor (to be aired on one of several major talk shows), and a book deal.

A recent add-on for fashionably enlightened clients is a session with a Certified Law of Attraction Coach, who will show the client how she or he attracted this tragedy, and how to avoid such things in the future. Free copies of the mega-hit underground movies The Secret and What The Bleep Do We Know? are also included. Chull is a certified LOA Coach and a big fan of The Secret. "I watched it seven times in a row the first day I got it," she says, "and it permanently transformed my brain, and completely changed my life."

When asked what she thinks of accusations that she and her colleagues are exploiting tragic situations for monetary gain, Celeste Chull says, "And your point is? Look, tragedy is an inescapable part of life these days. I’m just helping make it a little easier – and a little prettier – for everyone, even though people who are involved in tragedy and disaster attracted these things in some way. By helping people look good when bad things are happening, I’m actually helping clear the events of negativity. In truth, I am only working for the highest good."

Copyright © 2006 by API News Services
Augusta Wend and Bloana Waye contributed to this report

Note: The above is all made up. By me. API stands for American Parody International. It doesn't exist, or didn't until now. But I admit that some of the material above is recycled from my BLP (book-like product), Cosmic Relief. (Copyright © 1995, 2006 by Connie L. Schmidt, and all that. I guess I should add my standard apology to the few of you who have read some of this before.) Hey, here’s a fun project! Let’s see if we can make this into an urban legend. Spread it from blog to blog, discussion group to discussion group (minus this end note, of course.) Express your righteous indignation over the way these New Wage opportunists are exploiting grief and tragedy, and, worst of all, misrepresenting the Law of Attraction (well, actually, it's not really a misrepresentation. Just read some of the LOA sites and blogs and you'll see what I mean). Oh, and also mention how outrageous it is that some of the TV news networks are resorting to yet another form of subterfuge. Anyway, spread it around and see if anyone gets riled up.

* At the time I first wrote this blog post, I actually had a link to Traumagic.com, which at that time did not exist. But it now does; it is someone's blog. So I changed the link. Like the company TrauMagic, the new link is not real.



Anonymous Petra said...


Nice blog. I have been blog surfing (by hitting ‘next blog’ in the top of each blog) which brought me randomly to your blog, and it's proving extremely interesting.

Along with my blog and a few friends’ blogs, here is where I have blog surfed to recently:

Ah Bugger



Violet Rose

The Footy Club

Controlled Randomness


Need to Know

Simple Sphere

Para Sempre Zoação!

Knight Nation

Mazda News


Boulder the Great

Blog Potato

Phoenix Fire

Clip Tip

Upside down, inside out, however you like it

where everythink is in its own place

I dream of Taco Bell

Heyl1 goes York!

Coolest Guy on the Planet


A Nova Visão Do Futebol

Walking On Fire

BMW News

HitchHiker’s Omnibus

The Quiet Stone

milk money or not, here I come

America; The Freak

All Your House Are Belong To Us

Auto Blog

Fawlty Towers

Star Girl

This Is Not A Blog. It's A Golb.



el sur tambien existe

Thinking about Lil' BGs

Jerusalem Jones

Lou’s Hideaway

Mercedes News

Monthly RetConn



Animals Are Our Equals

Movie Reviews

Phantasmagoria Under the Mad Moon

Jungle Doodles

Holy Smokes

Evolve Happy

Gluttonous Sins

Thoughts of a Delicate Mind

beautiful kisses


m@’s life

Girlfriend Board of Review

Jerry in Berlin

100% Nicky

A Clear View To A New Life

Marissa Anich's Internet Blog


Davis Files 7081

Self Publish Blook ( Yes, Blook )

Read Between the Lines



A Place Called Cafe

Reason I Live

Gardening 1 on 1

and about that


I’ll add your blog to my trail next. Bye!

Petra :)

Saturday, December 09, 2006 11:40:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks for visiting, Petra, and thanks for the links. Naturally, Dear Readers, the standard disclaimers apply -- Whirled Musings and Cosmic Connie are not responsible for any of the content of the blogs in the links, nor for any cookies or anything else you might gather when following the links, nor for any trouble you might get into with your boss while wandering through the blogosphere when you should be engaged in corporate activities. But let's face it, blogging is more fun than working any day, right, Petra? Thanks again for writing.

Sunday, December 10, 2006 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strange - a lot of links to autoconsultants.com.au

Nevetheless, I was completely taken by this post! Well done.

I spent some time searching for the Greif Expressions site only to return and reread your disclaimer!

Hee hee!

Monday, December 11, 2006 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you, CD! But you see what I mean...we could start a big stink with this thing. A few well-placed copy-and-paste jobs on a few discussion forums (minus the itty-bitty disclaimer, of course)...and we could get folks all riled up about the (fictional) public grief industry and how it is exploiting tragedy. And we could get them righteously angry about affluent parents spoiling their high-school kids by buying full-time "personal-image consultants" for them. We could also get folks fired up about the alleged use by legitimate news media of trauma-image consultants to spruce up tragedy scenes. It could be fun.

And it's not beyond the realm of possibility. For the most part, people on discussion boards get fired up first and ask questions later (if at all).

PS -- A goal of mine is to have some of the stuff I made up end up on Snopes.com.

Monday, December 11, 2006 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grrl, you are genius! Impressive!!

Monday, December 11, 2006 9:03:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, RQ! I'm thinking that maybe some of these ideas could be pretty big money-makers...

Monday, December 11, 2006 10:10:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home