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.