Temple University made a cameo on primetime television last Monday when police officer, Cinnamon Smith, 31, appeared on FOX’s extreme makeover reality show “The Swan.”
Smith, a five-year veteran of the bike unit and divorced mother of three from Philadelphia, felt her changing body needed an update.
“I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life,” she commented during the show, adding that she has never felt attractive and constantly picks apart her physical features.
“I’m doing this for myself to become a sexy, vibrant woman.”
Smith allowed cameras to follow her every move as she underwent extensive reconstructive surgery. She received a nose job, liposuction in four different areas, a tummy tuck, brow lift, breast augmentation, dental work, exercise training and therapy.
Under the rules of “The Swan,” no mirrors are allowed during the entire three-month project. The only time a contestant sees herself is after the project has been completed in a ceremony called “The Reveal.” Contestants must follow a strict diet, exercise and therapy program, and any contact with family members must be made during recorded phone conversations.
Charles Leone, deputy director of the Temple police department, supported Smith’s decision to appear on the show. In mid-August, Leone explained, Smith tried out for the show in Center City and received a call back, where she was eventually chosen as a contestant.
Smith, currently on leave, explained to Leone that appearing on “The Swan” would be beneficial for mental, physical and spiritual reasons. “She thought it would be a positive change in her life,” Leone said. “We thought this would add to her self-esteem.”
Smith wanted to shed her “tough cop” image for a more feminine look. The episode revealed that she had not been to a dentist in 10 years. She had to undergo serious tooth reconstruction as a result, and experienced a breakdown when she saw the extent of her tooth decay.
At the end of her transformation, Smith, who once wore hair the same color as her name, was shocked to see her new body.
“Oh my God, I’m so happy” she shrieked while staring into the once-forbidden mirror. She was thinner, blond, and wore a form-fitting black gown with a plunging neckline – a far cry from her former self-described tomboy attire.
“I didn’t recognize her,” said Eileen Bradley, captain of special services. “It’s gonna take some time to adjust.”
“We thought she was pretty before,” Leone added.
After the surgeries, Smith, along with another contestant, Patti, competed for a chance to win a place in “The Swan” pageant finale. The pageant, airing on Dec. 20, joins other winners from this season for an opportunity to win cash and prizes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those chosen to compete in the pageant are judged on beauty, poise, and overall transformation.
In the end, the judges chose Smith to go on to the pageant because she worked hard and had an “incredible outlook on life.”
“Everyone has a way of feeling good,” said Leone. “I don’t want people working here to be upset.”
“It’s hard to differentiate between home life and work life,” Leone added. “A happy home life will reflect on your job.”
“This will give her a new beginning,” said Bradley. “She’s our Temple star now.”
Andrea Boston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.