There Is Something about Christy…by Jeffrey Clinard -- 03/26/2003
What is it about Christy? She consistently been among the most popular Survivors ever. Is her deafness a weakness or a strength? Why does she love her new tribe and resent her old tribe? Is it prejudice (for or against her)? Is it determination? Has she found out her personal strengths against a world that is stacked against her?
Let's go back to the beginning, when Jeff Probst put her on Jaburu. That was the beginning of a men verses women tribe situation. After rowing to their site, Christy explained her deafness, and the rest of the women shook hands and repeated their names and occupations. That was a good start. But it quickly collapsed. She was left alone to tend the fire while the other women did other things. In confessionals and other candid moments, the "beautiful girls" (Shawna, Jenna, and Heidi) downplayed her value to the tribe (she's not young enough, cute enough, or shallow enough I guess). She was made an outcast in the Jaburu tribe and survived because tribal politics prevailed, tossing Janet and then JoAnna.
Then Christy was thrown to a new tribe. She once again told the tribe she was deaf, and asked for reasonable accommodations for it. For many reasons, the group went out of their way to make her a member of the tribe. Butch turned up the lanterns at night and made sure she could lip-read the conversations. For whatever reason (probably maturity), Christy went from outsider to valued member of the tribe, simply because the men made an effort to include her.
So what happened after that? Tambaqui lost immunity, was sent to the vote, and ejected Jeanne. When Christy asked why, the men told her she brought assets to the tribe. Jeanne didn't; her skills were redundant. The point was well taken when Christy beat Jenna twice in the reward challenge. Butch secured her political position when he told her she didn't have a disability. That simple statement was exactly what she wanted to hear... she was VALUED. I don't know if Butch had it in mind when he stated it, but he won her over.
So we have another situation where we can decide who is America's Sweetheart. Colleen got it; so did Elisabeth. Krista (Big Brother 2) wanted it and declared it, despite the fact that America didn't like her – instead she ended up in the Reality TV Hall of Shame. I'm sure Heidi, Jenna, or Shawna wants it as well. Still, everybody I know selects Christy.
She's certainly not a "hottie." She's young and very attractive, but she doesn't have the wasp waist or big boobs the hotties seem to value. If it was a beauty contest, she would not win on looks and figure. But she'd win on personality and brains, no doubt. Christy has popularity around 90%, far better than any of the other girls.
So what is it about Christy? I guess it's partly because she's a Survivor not just a Survivor contestant. She's deaf, but is willing to meet anybody who is willing halfway. The men did it; the women did not. She's young. She's attractive. But she doesn't flaunt it. She has proved her value to the tribe in other ways. She's proved to herself and her (new) tribe her value.
I suppose it must drive Jenna, Shawna, and Heidi crazy to figure out what Christy has that they don't have. They have beauty and figures, and are the "hot" chicks in the game. They seem to think it will advance them. It obviously didn’t work for Shawna. Still, Christy is beating their time when it comes to being America's sweetheart. There are many reasons, but mostly it's because she wants to be valued for something other than her looks. She may be deaf, but she is not stupid. Her youth and looks play in her favor, but her mind is what is winning people over. She's the real deal, while Jenna, Shawna, and Heidi are shallow. Being "cute" is not enough to win over America. Colleen (Survivor 1) and Elisabeth (Survivor 2) won over hearts because they were not vain and shallow. Christy is becoming America's sweetheart because she has the total package: looks, brains, and personality.
So what does it come down to? Is her (lack of) hearing a disability, or an asset in the game? Well, it probably comes down to the question of who she is playing with. Butch, Roger, and (maybe) Dave don't care if she's deaf; they just talk to her face and turn up the lights at night. The "hot" girls can't find it in themselves to try to include the deaf girl. It's a simple matter: what you put into a relationship is what you get out of it. Christy has put her full effort into both tribes. She was rebuffed by the girls, but once re-BUFFED with three of the men, she found her place. There is no doubt who she will vote the big money to if she's put on the jury.
Isn't it ironic that being beautiful on the outside isn't enough to win over America? It takes being wholesome. Christy has it; Heidi and Jenna don't.
Jeffrey Clinard lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his kittens, Lam and Princess. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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