Jessica Simpson
Credit: VH1

Image Credit: VH1After she became the subject of tabloid fodder last year, following a series of unflattering pictures circulating the Web, Jessica Simpson sought out to develop a television show that proved beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. The result? The Price of Beauty, which premiered tonight on Vh1. Like anything Simpson produces these days (movies, songs, weaves, etc.), the show has become a topic of debate — in EW’s own offices. Here, EW editor extraordinaires Kate Stroup and Kate Ward sound off about whether they loved or loathed Beauty. (Ward previously gave the show a B+ grade, so you can guess which side she took.) Voice your own opinion about the show after the jump, and vote in our love it/loathe it poll!

KATE WARD: So, Kate, Jessica Simpson has made her long-awaited return to reality television in her new show The Price of Beauty. Are we willing to finally get past the mom jeans and accept that she’s actually producing something good for once? In the name of Sweet Kisses, I say so!

KATE STROUP: Okay, I’ll admit it. I watched Newlyweds, and I found Jessica’s chicken-or-fish antics oddly endearing. So I was happy to hear she was returning to the world of reality TV — she’s always seemed more comfortable there than on, say, the radio. But honestly, there’s nothing much to admire about The Price of Beauty. She’s as clueless as ever. But now, as she travels the world, her missteps are less funny and, on occasion, downright offensive. Laughing at a Buddhist monk? Gagging — loudly — at the food for sale in a local market?

KW: I had a feeling you’d bring that up! And I’ll concede that she is a bit, shall we say, culturally insensitive. But it’s all about baby steps when it comes to celebrities. And as far as I’m concerned, she’s taken quite a leap. Rather than focusing on her mundane Hollywood existence, she has shown that she’s eager to explore other cultures. And any program on television that aims to convince girls that Kate Moss is not the beauty ideal is a good thing, right? In the words of Chris Crocker, leave Jessica Simpson alone!

KS: See, that’s where the show REALLY loses me. If the attempt is to prove that beauty is more than skin deep, then why do they keep talking about how pretty people are? (That’s the first thing they say to their Thai “beauty ambassador.”) Or, when they venture out into the countryside, are they so enamored with the women who wear 20 pounds worth of metal rings to elongate their necks? Is that really any better than aspiring to be like Kate Moss? How about the skin lightening? All the show seems to be saying is that different cultures have different — and often extreme — ideas of beauty. And no matter where you are, women are willing to do anything to conform to that standard. Where’s the inspiration in that?

KW: But isn’t that, in a way, what Jessica is trying to prove with the show? After all, it is called The Price of Beauty. But you are right in a way — I do think Jessica is caught in the middle, trying to respect a country’s customs, while understanding that said customs are actually harmful to the well-being of the women in question. That’s why, I think, she features the woman in Thailand whose face was destroyed when she bleached her skin. Jessica seems to be trying to tell viewers that beauty customs everywhere can be dangerous. It’s too bad she can’t really, you know, translate that on the small screen. But we are talking about Jessica Simpson.

KS: I’ll give you that one. I guess my point is just that, in trying so hard to be deep, she inadvertently proves just how shallow she is. She may never be “Intellectual Napalm,” but I do give the girl credit for doing something constructive with her time.

KW: Can we agree on one thing, Kate? That being called “Sexual Napalm” is actually a compliment that you and I would cherish and put on a plaque?

KS: Totally.

What did you think, PopWatchers?

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