With her multiple punk piercings, dyed locks, and leather jacket, Mel Wildman’s extreme style often turned heads in her sleepy hometown in the north of England. However, it is safe to say that not everyone was a fan of her individual, alternative look. In fact, many people made the mistake of judging the book by the cover, but there was more to the young woman’s story than that. Consequently, one day in 2013, Mel underwent a makeover and took a walk on the mild side.
Mel lived and worked as an artist in the quiet seaside resort of Morecambe in Lancashire, England. In 2014 the then 21-year-old lived with her bodybuilder boyfriend, Andy Bell, 47. And the punky pair were well known around the small town, thanks to their extreme styles of grooming and dress.
Admittedly, the couple were pretty out there, but it was Mel’s look that was particularly eye-catching. At the time, she sported a bright-pink mohawk and piercings in her cheeks, nose, eyebrow and lips. Furthermore, she was covered in a number of unique inkings.
Mel was extremely proud of her outre fashion sense and accoutrements and the attention they brought her. In 2013 she appeared on BBC reality TV show Snog, Marry, Avoid? to defend her individuality. “The thing that I love most about my style is the studs, and the tattoos, and the leather,” she defiantly told the cameras.
However, not everyone felt the same way about Mel’s wacky wardrobe, piercings and ink. In fact, her mom also appeared on the show with her concerns about what others might think of her daughter. In the episode, Jill Wildman admits, “Some people will look at her as if she’s scum… It just makes me feel ashamed sometimes.”
But while other people’s opinions worried Jill, her daughter seems delighted that strangers have to do a double take when they see her. “I think my look is very intimidating,” she boasts to the Snog, Marry, Avoid? film crew. “Everyone just, like, moves away.”
However, despite Mel’s conviction in her confrontational clothes and unconventional appearance, her mom was not the only one unconvinced. In the filmed segment, the young woman’s friend Jordan complains, “She’s gone way too far on her piercings. Too many piercings in her face.”
Moreover, taking particular disdain to Mel’s favorite old and battered leather jacket, Jordan adds, “It’s attached to her. It’s like she was born with it.” And Jill agrees. “That jacket stinks,” she says. “It’s got every meal she ever eats all down the front of it.”
Continuing her scathing critique of her daughter’s style, a worried Jill sums up her fears for the Snog, Marry, Avoid? cameras. She says, “Melissa’s look at the moment is stopping her from getting a job or getting anywhere in life. She attracts the wrong kind of boys.”
However, while Jill is clearly no fan of her daughter’s fashion sense, the mom has an explanation for Mel’s intimating exterior. “It’s like a defense mechanism because she was bullied quite a lot when she [was] younger,” the concerned mom reveals.
With that in mind, Jill admitted that she would like nothing more than to peel away Mel’s punky layers to reveal the conventionally attractive girl within. The mom says, “I keep telling her she’s beautiful and she’s a lovely person, but she’s just so insecure.”
Happily, such transformations were the Snog, Marry, Avoid? team’s speciality. The premise of the show revolved around transforming those with extreme appearances into “natural beauties.” Following the subject’s “make-under,” strangers then reveal whether they would be prepared to kiss or get hitched to the individual or, alternatively, give them a swerve.
The show’s production unit would travel the U.K. with their self-styled Personal Overhaul Device – or POD – to effect these transformations. Ahead of her make-under, Mel admits to the cameras that she is panicking about ditching her punky persona. “I’m actually quite a bit scared about POD getting rid of all my fakery,” she reveals. “I’ve never known anything about being not fake.”
But Mel need not have entertained such worries before the Snog, Marry, Avoid? experts got to work. Her POD make-under leaves her looking absolutely gorgeous. Beneath all Mel’s piercings and harsh makeup, she has been hiding a glowing complexion, which is accentuated with the addition of a flowing brunette wig.
And although she admits to initially feeling “naked” without her studs and leathers, a grateful Mel soon comes round to her new look. “Oh my God!” she shrieks on film as she takes in her reflection in a mirror. “I’ve never seen myself like this before.”
Gone are Mel’s ripped clothes and her baggy, beaten up leather jacket. Instead, she sports a eye-catching red gown that hugs her curves to emphasize her figure. And it is safe to say that the young woman had never looked so conventional. In fact, Mel didn’t look too dissimilar to Hollywood A-lister Jennifer Lawrence
Clearly impressed by her new look, Mel comments, “It’s like someone else in the mirror. I feel like a lady and feel like I look sexy.” And it seemed like the British general public was in agreement. An overwhelming 70 percent of those quizzed on the show said that they would now snog Mel, while the remaining 30 percent chose the “marry” option. Tellingly, not one of the respondents elected to avoid her.
Mel was made up – or under – by the POD transformation, but no-one on the show was more pleased by her new appearance than her mom. “She looks amazing,” Jill is shown gushing while choking back tears. “I told you that you were beautiful,” she tells her daughter. “I’ve been telling you for years.”
However, despite Mel’s initial enthusiasm for her new ladylike look, it was not long before the jewelry had returned to her face. Indeed, in a Snog, Marry, Avoid? follow-up interview, her cheek studs, nose piercings and earrings are all back. “I couldn’t live without them,” she concedes to presenter Ellie Taylor.
In the end, holding on to those punky piercings was a portent. Mel’s individuality eventually trumped her desire to fit in. By 2014 she had returned to her way-out ways. “I didn’t feel comfortable or myself on the show,” she admitted to U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail in February of that year. “I liked the look, but I felt like I looked like my mother,” she added. “I really liked the dress, but I just felt so uncomfortable.”