Archetypal Character Study: Michael Jackson and Pretty Face


A flower Essence Archetypal Character Study of
Pretty Face – Triteleia ixioides

Michael Jackson—The Man in the Mirror

by Danielle Woermann

Pretty Face:  This perennial herbaceous plant has straw-colored or golden-yellow flowers with a conspicuous black-purple vein on the outside running from the apex to the base of each petal. The flowers are arranged in umbels and each umbel contains 16 to 40 flowers. The stamens are yellow, alternately long and short. The scape is 2-4 dm long. The leaves are few in number and grass like. The fruit capsules contain black seeds, which are ridged longitudinally.

Pretty Face is a flower essence given to those who do not like their appearance. At this time in history, humans insure their self-worth by their outer standards of beauty. Michael Jackson, probably more than any other person, is the archetype of this flower. He was very attractive as a child and as a young man. In his early twenties, he began to undergo plastic surgery to augment his appearance. It seemed to me that he changed some of his features that belong to his African American heritage—a wider nose and darker skin to those of Caucasian people, a slimmer nose and lighter skin. He also appeared to look much more like a woman in his 30s and 40s. Michael Jackson went to great lengths to alter his appearance.

Michael Jackson grew up in Gary, Indiana as the front man of the musical sensation “The Jackson Five.” His showbiz career began at the age of 6.  He had an unusual childhood in that he could not play with other children his age or go to school. He claimed that he was very lonely. He says he sat in his room and cried much of his younger life. Jackson and his siblings were raised by an overbearing and abusive father. While Joseph Jackson had the foresight to see his kids were talented and helped produce them, he was heavy handed. Michael Jackson said that he and his brothers were beaten by their father quite regularly. He would hold a belt during rehearsals and if the children made a mistake, he hit them with it.

The size of his nose plagued Michael. He had always hated his nose, inherited from his father’s features. His brothers called him “Big Nose.”  He wanted to have a rhinoplasty but was afraid to. Finally in 1979 he fell on stage and broke his nose. He scheduled surgery that year. He loved his new smaller nose but was inwardly still unhappy and lonely. Even his friend Jane Fonda lectured him on the dangers of changing his appearance surgically and encouraged him to find his inner beauty. Michael still had acne in his twenties as did his brother Jermaine. Jermaine became a vegetarian and his skin cleared up. Michael followed suit and his skin cleared up also. He also lost a lot of weight at this time due to his new diet. That is when his cheeks became considerably more defined. Many think he also had surgery to change his cheekbones but he claims it was weight loss.

The following year 1981, he went in for his 2nd rhinoplasty. He looked even less like his father. He was crying out for help and becoming obsessed by the appearance of the man in the mirror. A dangerous pattern was emerging. When interviewed for a magazine article later that year, he wore full make-up in his own home. He had eyebrow pencil, mascara, eye shadow and lipstick on. He was 23 years old. During his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley in 1993-95, she stated that he wore a heavy amount of make-up. She said there was a lot of make-up on his pillow and that he got up quickly out of bed each morning to fix it, not even letting her see his actual appearance.

He had his 3rd rhinoplasty in 1984.  Right before he had it, Jackson stated, “Did you see the way it looked on the American Music Awards when I was standing next to Diana? Hers was so thin and mine looked so fat.  I hated it.”

He scheduled his 4th rhinoplasty in 1986 and also planned to have a cleft put in his chin. His mother told him he was going overboard. To that he said it was “the greatest joy I ever had was knowing I had a choice about my face.” He also said to a friend who was considering having plastic surgery, “Once you have it done, you’ll never stop looking in the mirror. That’s how great you’ll feel about yourself.” Michael spent his whole life studying pictures of himself and dancing in front of mirrors and watching videos. There were those who also thought he was just trying to not look like his father and that was the point of all of his surgeries. Others thought he wanted to look less African American and more Caucasian.

When seen in public during the last decade of his life, he often wore a surgical face mask. It is reported that he did this because it was too difficult to wear his prosthetic nose.

Finally, though he denied it vehemently, it is obvious to me that he used skin whitening products. He may have suffered from Vitiligo but even if he did, his skin was whiter from the use of bleaching products. Several people confirmed the use of them. He also wore lots of pancake make-up, which made him appear even paler. Over time, his nose changed very much, his lips got thinner, his eyebrows got higher and he got a cleft chin.  He also looks much more like a woman than a man. At the time of his death, he was bald and wore wigs as well.

The Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates writes of Jackson after his death: “I think he wanted to be a symbol of universalism and he erroneously thought that his skin color, hair texture, the length of his nose and shape of his chin inhibited that. You could say he was appealing to the universal but there is no way of escaping…that it’s a function of Negro self-hatred and self-loathing, which is a function of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation and racism, which made Blacks hate the very things that make them beautiful.” Many people thought that Michael Jackson was proud to be black but Professor Gates introduces a good argument. He perhaps wanted to appear whiter to find success as his family was so poor before they became famous in the music industry.

Michael Jackson could have desperately used the Flower Essence “Pretty Face.” From his childhood until his death, he sought to alter his appearance through drastic measures and was transformed completely. He endured many surgeries and then the drug addictions and eating disorders ultimately took his life very prematurely at the age of 50. Jackson did not take his friend Jane Fonda’s advice 30 years ago to look within for his beauty and happiness. 

I saw an interview on TV recently. The entertainer Heidi Montag is a 23 year-old woman who has had 10 surgeries on her face. She said to her interviewer “Isn’t it great that we can do this, that I can change my appearance to however I like?” Michael Jackson is not the only person afflicted by this modern condition. The danger of this vanity seeking epidemic is growing as more and more people can afford cosmetic surgery. People can choose to change their appearance with medical procedures.  Often, the results are not more attractive and render the person misshapen.  In the end, Michael Jackson covered most of his face to hide its deformities.

Michael Jackson’s self-esteem was so poor, he over identified with his appearance and sought to change it. Pretty Face is meant to shift one’s focus from outer appearance to look inward where real beauty comes from: the soul.


Taraborelli, Randy J.  Michael Jackson, Grand Central Publishing, New York, 2009.

Editors of Rolling Stone, Michael, HarperCollins, New York, 2009.

Michael 1958-2009, Time Life Books, New York, 2009.

Halperin, Ian.  Unmasked, The Final Years of Michael Jackson.  Simon & Schuster, New York, 2009.

Kaminski, Patricia and Katz, Richard.  Flower Essence Repertory.  Flower Essence Society. Nevada City, 2004.

“This is It,” directed by Kenny Ortega, Sony Pictures, 2009.

About Danielle Woermann

Danielle is a movement therapist and teacher of Nia, having achieved the Black Belt Level of certification. She attended the 2008 FES Professional Course and has since become an FES Certified practitioner. Danielle wrote this archetypal study as one of the requirements for the FES certification process.

What is an archetypal study?

“And every fair and every good
Known in part or known impure
To men below,
In their archetypes endure.”

From Celestial Love by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Archetypes are universal forces originating at the highest levels of creation to shape the physical world of nature as well as the human soul. Larger than a single "thing," they are the prototypes or patterns that emanate from the spiritual world and are revealed in symbols, images and gestures. Flowers are an exquisite expression of these archetypal forces. The unique forms, colors, aromas and textures of each flower are larger than any single part—each flower emanates an over-arching quality. It is these archetypal forces that transcend physical chemistry and are to be found in the unique healing pattern of each flower essence.

One of the aims of the FES Certification Program is to help each student come into greater awareness of archetypal reality, both in the language and images of the soul, and in the larger soul expressions of Nature. The ability to become articulate in this language is fundamental to practitioner skill in flower essence therapy. A core assignment involves exploration of an archetype that can be clearly evidenced in visual art, literature, film, human biography or larger culture, and how this archetype is reflected in the context of a particular flower archetype.



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