The source of this blog came, surprisingly to me, from What Not To Wear (WNTW). I would like to note: not the new, revisited version, which takes place in front of a live audience and encourages cruel comments, looks, and laughter, and judging to the most depressingly impossible degree.

I turned on TV and started watching; there were a few episodes back to back on TLC. My first gut reaction was that this is a show that makes the social situation worse than it already is. Its focus is on clothing, makeup, haircuts, and hair coloring, and the premise is a Cinderella-like makeover, that lifts the hopelessly unfashionable to the ranks of the social elite. It made me angry. I believe that women (and men) don’t need to dress to impress anyone but themselves, that our bodies are our own, and that pandering to prevalent notions of masculinity and femininity to the masses watching the show only makes our social culture worse. The name calling, the trashing of someone’s clothing identity, the idea that you aren’t good enough as you are and so you have to change; these things bothered me. But nevertheless, I kept watching. And watching. And before I knew it, I was three episodes along. And then Big Brooklyn Style came on. (THAT show makes me a little happier, although still I wish there were a simple way of convincing everyone that they ARE in fact beautiful, and they ARE in fact worth it. With Brooklyn Style, plus-sized women (hate that term also. Need a better one. If anyone reads this, ideas?) are given attractive, flattering options in clothing and also given positive moral support. Which, much to my surprise, I found some of in WNTW. Clinton (the host) doesn’t really seem to exemplify this to me. Listening to him, I hear a lot of male perspectives and catty negativity. It’s not attractive. It’s very hurtful to the subject of the show, and usually the mean remarks start with him. HOWEVER. While Stacy has similar behaviors for a large part of the makeover, she also does focus on the emotional standing of the subject. I was startled. Not only does she temper a great deal of Clinton’s harshness, but she actually tries to build up the subject’s self-image. Yes, she does encourage feminine versus masculine stereotypical clothing styles. Yes, she does have cruel remarks. But at the same time, she is encouraging, and looking what she says, she seems to have several of the same principles that I hold valuable.

1) “Your natural charisma should come from you, not your clothes.”
I feel like a lot of times these days, the clothes make the person. If you look good, you should be able to go farther with what you do. I think it’s important to keep clean, keep tidy, don’t let yourself sit around and get grotty. Do something productive with your time, don’t just sit and look pretty! Looking isn’t nearly as impressive as doing. Though I do admit that it can be important, and our society doesn’t always treat the scruffy workers as well as they should be treated. I don’t remember the episode this is from, but I do know that it is true that you should be wearing your clothes, not letting them wear you. And being yourself is a big key to that!

2) “It will all turn out okay. Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love. And most importantly, be kind to others, even if you don’t like them.”
This quote is from an interview for Seventeen magazine; the question asked wanted advice from Stacy to her seventeen year old self. Confidence is beautiful. And everything WILL be okay. If you’re in doubt, ask someone you trust. It WILL be okay. If it isn’t okay, it hasn’t turned out yet. All of the things she brings up are important; but I think especially the last. There’s a lot of hatefulness going around, especially these days. A little more kindness goes a long way. And don’t hold back from trying because you aren’t sure if you can – just go for it! *within reason. Obviously, some things are dumb. But if you keep that last bit of advice in mind, it’ll probably work out fine. So go for it – kindly!

3) “Just be who you are, love who you are, do your best, and be kind. Everything else will take care of itself.”
Like number 2. Loving yourself is something we really don’t encourage, especially in young people. The idea of matching up or besting someone else just invites negativity and self-hatred. And who are we competing for? What purpose does it serve? Love yourself! Because every single one of us has at least ONE good feature, even if we can’t admit it to ourselves. Just start with one little part, and work from there. Appreciate what you have. Because we are fantastic people.

4) “Don’t get hung up on the size. If you feel bad about yourself because a 12 is what fits, take a Sharpie, and write ‘6’ on the label.”
Big pet peeve of mine. I don’t understand the trend of losing weight because you don’t match up to your friends. Or coworkers. Or whatever. DOES NOT MAKE SENSE! Everyone is built differently. Be real, be yourself, and screw the sizes. Size of clothing is so arbitrary anyway. Calling something pink, blue, or green size seems about as logical. And who exactly is going to be looking at your size tags on the INSIDE of your clothing? If you feel like a six, and you are healthy, then be a six. Or a zero. Whatever makes you happy. Just be healthy, and love your body, curves or lines, size or shape, whatever you have. Just rock it! And if you find something you love that fits, then it really doesn’t matter what size it is. It’s YOU-sized!

5) “I believe ever PERSON is beautiful. What you do with that beauty, how you develop it, is up to you.”
Beauty changes with the eyes of the beholders, and over time. Most people know this. From the Medieval and Renaissance frail and pale looks to the current computer-generated anorexic spray-tans, the span of what we’ve considered beautiful has ranged dramatically. Everyone is beautiful. Whether you develop that internally or externally, that’s a decision that you have to make, and that you have to stand up for. No one else will do it for you. A challenge: when you go places, look at the people around you. What is beautiful about them from a sheerly physical perspective? If you talk to them, what is beautiful about their mind? Their voice? Their expressions? If you can, give them a compliment! And Smile. Smiling is very important!

6) “Each of us is a SNOWFLAKE. All different and perfect in our OWN way” and
“EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU is a snowflake. There isn’t ANYONE who can be you but you, and THAT makes you beautiful. Period.”
Related to number five. We are all unique, so we should act like it! Be proud of who you are. Make a list of ten positive things about yourself for every one negative thought you have. Then go out and enjoy yourself in all the ways you are unique and wonderful!

7) “You have to let go of whatever you were, and allow yourself to become who you are.”
Everyone has a past. Some pasts are less desireable than others. Some cause long lasting damage. Sometimes they keep us locked up in the has-beens, and there doesn’t seem to be a good way out. But the good thing is that we aren’t who we were. Those experiences have changed us, one way or another. And we can be anything now, even if we don’t know it. People are constantly changing. And that’s a good thing. So take a deep breath, let go of what is holding you back, and let yourself blossom. Cut away all that dead wood and let the buds come through. Because it’s springtime, and you are something new.

If THIS doesn’t make you smile…

8) “We can change the world every time we’re a bit nicer to someone else.”
Have you ever just smiled at people? Just on the bus, or on the way to work, or school, or to the library, or on a soccer field. Smiling is so infectious!!! It’s unbelievable how fast a little smile changes a person’s day. Try it.
Hold a door open for someone, or let a mother with a crying child go first in line. Buy someone an icecream, or donate time or money to some organization. Be nice! Stop up the cruel and mean remarks that want to just ooze out of your mouth. It isn’t constructive, it doesn’t make anyone feel good, and it makes you just downright ugly. Go look in a mirror and say something to the person you see there. The negative comments are just ugly-making – the positive ones make you appreciate yourself just a little bit more. And then you feel more like making a good world happen.

9) “Please remember you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself too!”
Even when you do remember to take a moment to breathe, it is super important to remember to just take time to recharge and let the dust settle. Especially now, when our idea is to be the energizer bunny in human form, we need to remember that we need to take sick days, to get ourselves healthy and emotionally strong before we go out to make our differences. We aren’t helpful to anyone when we’re worn down, tired, and just too drained to care. So take care of yourself, and then focus on other people. It takes both parts.

10) “Be amazing. That’s not bragging about yourself to other people.”
There’s a difference in bragging about yourself and just having self-confidence. I haven’t figured out how to be amazing yet, but I know that you shouldn’t hide in a corner and belittle yourself just so other people with low self confidence can be snarky at you. Be epic! If you’re a tiger lily, be a tiger lily! If you’re a rose, be a rose. But be confident in yourself, and just be fabulous!

11) “Is there a way to look [at yourself] without feeling like something is wrong?”
Find it. Because in this culture, women especially are trained to think there is something wrong with them, medically, physically, mentally. There is nothing wrong with being a woman. Or with being a man. Or with choosing to identify as neither of the above. You are you, and as Lady Gaga says, “Baby, I was born this way”! Be proud of yourself. You’re built just right! And there is nothing wrong with how you’re made.

12) “SCREW who’s judging you. …Does this make you happy? …because YOU are living your life.”
Bit of an excerpt here. Sorry for all of the ellipses! This is the gist of what she said, and also as much as I could type while watching. (Things I want to do in my copious amounts of spare time: improve typing speed.) This really resonated for me. It IS my life, and no one else is doing it for me. So why shouldn’t I try and do what makes me happy? You can’t keep everyone happy all the time, but you can try and do things that make you feel good. And no one else should destroy your happiness because it doesn’t match with theirs exactly. So, I AM going to live my life. And if anyone reads this, I hope you do too!

14) Clinton said a few things that were useful. “You can be drop dead gorgeous… and have the same insecurities as everyone else.” He also said “Every woman has her own beauty” – and Stacy added “and her own insecurities.” They’ve got that part down for sure. Everyone is beautiful, and everyone has their own failings that bring them down from the glorious people they are, to fearful, hiding, weak creatures that mostly snap at each other and don’t boost each other’s talents. We are all insecure. So let’s support one another and help make us all as beautiful, strong, vibrant, and fabulous as we can be!

15) Ted and Carmindy both work on this show as hair and makeup stylists. Part of their job is highlighting the natural beauty… Carmindy’s joy in ‘icing’ the face with makeup is interesting to me, since I don’t wear makeup ever, and that’s what her job is. But she definitely is right about one thing: “You need to celebrate who you are. Celebrate it all day long!”

So, I suppose the conclusion to this whole long rant is that I don’t entirely approve of the show. And I REALLY don’t like the reboot. But it isn’t fair for me to utterly condemn the show. Whether I agree with the methods or not, Stacy and Clinton, Ted and Carmindy, all are working to help their subjects realize how wonderful they are, and to express themselves outside as well as inside their bodies. And while they do some cover up of hair and makeup, they also do encourage the self-confidence in the physical presence of their subjects.

And you know, Carmindy is right.

I WILL celebrate myself.

Because I am fabulous. 😀
[And so are you!]

 

And so is this bear.
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