Saturday, August 13, 2005

Life Lessons from What Not to Wear

Babs is an avid fan of The Learning Channel's What Not To Wear. She watches as many episodes as she can and while she has been living at home this summer she has had me join her. I confess that I love it, too. It may be a guilty pleasure because it focuses on improving the outward appearance of its subjects. But invariably those chosen reflect that the outward change boosted their self-confidence, self-esteem and sometimes helped them embrace changes in their lives.

Unlike shows like Extreme Makeover, or the many plastic surgery shows on the cable channel, WNTW focuses on enhancing the person, not remaking them into someone else. There are no nose jobs, tooth capping, liposuction, chin and cheek implants, etc. Just new clothes, hair styling and maybe color, and direction on choosing styles and colors that work for the life and preferences of the subject.

One of the things I really like about the show is that the two "stylists", Stacey and Clinton, take the time to study the lifestyle of their chosen subject and then discuss it with them before making recommendations. There have been many shows featuring young mothers who spend more time on their children than themselves. Stacey and Clinton tell them that they are important, too, and help them change their style in realistic ways. They always consider the work requirements and the style preferences of their subjects and point out ways they can look better within that context.

They try to understand the individual first and then help them second. Stacey and Clinton don't try to make the mom into a high fashion model. They don't try to turn the casual clothes lover or a young punk rocker into a tailored preppy. Often they are psychologists, helping people accept the inevitable changes in life. That thirty year old woman still dressing like a pre-teen for example. The young man still wearing that collection of ragged college fraternity t-shirts several years later in an executive type business enviornment. Those who are overweight are urged to self-acceptance. One of their standard pep talks is that whether or not you lose weight in the future you deserve to look and feel your best right now, in the present moment.

We want to think that we can change our lives for the better--and isn't that the promise of the Christian faith? We often try to change others: our family members, our friends, and our co-workers. We want to make them over into something more pleasing to us without respecting their individuality and needs. Our "make over" impulse would be better directed in loving others more than loving our need to change them.

Who knew? The Golden Rule of Jesus observed in What Not To Wear.


Songbird said...

I love that show! If I ever lose 30 pounds, feel free to nominate me. I will need the clothes money.
Seriously, though, I always identify with the women in the stylist's chair and their fear of a big haircut. We are so vulnerable in that situation.

Lisa said...

Shut Up! haha I never looked at them in that light before. Great way of seeing them. Thanks!

St. Casserole said...

I watched the show once, haven't seen it since but I liked how the hosts found out about the person before styling them.
It's easier to change one's hairstyle than to change one's heart. People keep taking the easier way out of faith instead of paying attention to the call to deeper life.

cheesehead said...

Wonder Girl and I have a standing weekly date to watch the newest episode of WNTW.

When we shop we always give ourselves the Stacy and Clinton test:

1)No tapered pants! Ever!

2)Seaming on tops that creates a waist even where there isn't one. (For me--her waist is tiny.)

3) Colors that coordinate even if they aren't "matchy".

4) Will this go with at least two other things in my closet?

5) Make sure "the girls" are up where God first put them. (Again, more for me than her--her girls are still 15 y.o. perky!)

6) Life is too short for ugly shoes, droopy pants, oversize t-shirts, anything acid-washed, or from the 80's.

Quotidian Grace said...

Songbird--remember what Stacey and Clinton say about waiting until you loose weight: let's nominate you now! You live in the northeast so you're handy to NYC. We'd all tune in!
Revmom, I love it! Babs, Portia and I have internalized the same rules for shopping as you and Wonder Girl. And we look and feel so much better, too!

cheesehead said...

Oh, QG, I forgot the most fun rule: "Lock 'n Load."

Tee Hee, I'm giggling just thinking about it!

cheesehead said...

Oh, and whoever said "Shut Up!":

Songbird said...

Well, now that I've cleaned out my closet it wouldn't be so bad, although my bedroom is a little messy for TV!

Songbird said...

(We are just kidding here.)

Quotidian Grace said...

We may be kidding around, but seriously wouldn't a revgal be a good challenge for them? What would they recommend to go with a clerical collar? Or what to wear if you don't wear a clerical collar? How to look feminine but "rev-like"? Inquiring minds want to know....

cheesehead said...

I have been asking my daughter for a year or so to nominate me for that show. She gets so exasperated, "Mom, you can't *ask* to be nominated!"

I vote for Songbird!

Quotidian Grace said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Quotidian Grace said...

I deleted the previous comment because I found better information.

On the official WNTW website there is a link where you can nominate people living in the Portland ME area!

Here's the link:

As we presbyies say, must be predestined, Songbird ;-)

Revmom, tell Wonder Girl they are also looking for self-nominations from people in the Washington DC and Philadelphia areas. Does that help?

Songbird said...

Are you kidding? They actually want someone from Portland? That's too funny.

cheesehead said...

(Quickly checking flights to DC and Philly. Then checking VISA bill.)

Crap. Stacy and Clinton will *never* come to Snow Belt.

If we nom Songbird, can we come to her "After" party? I've never been to Maine!

Quotidian Grace said...

Songbird--check it out, it's true.
I've never been to Maine either, so be sure to invite me and revmom to the afterparty!
I think WNTW came to Austin once, but they've never come to the Bayou City.