Since I started working from home I have logged a lot of hours of TV watching.
And while a lot of the viewing has been pointless and stupid (do not get me started on last season of Grey’s… a plane crash? Really?)… some of it has actually been – dare I say it – beneficial.
I saw a few episodes of What Not to Wear in college, but I never made it religious viewing.
But since reruns come on right about the time I’m working on the mindless task of sorting emails, I’ve made it a habit to try to catch it.
It’s funny, and a bit cheesy, but it’s also oddly
And yes, the show always starts with an ambush. Some poor sap is singled out for her bad style, usually caught completely off guard and absolutely mortified.
But, and this is what
makes me appreciate the show so much, whether they’re teaching a skinny
young mom how to look less skanky, or a plus-sized grandmother how to flatter
her figure, the hosts (while impeccably stylish and enviably thin themselves)
always keep the focus on making the style target feel her best.
They don’t tell women the key to happiness is to lose twenty pounds, or to hide all their freckles.
They don’t tell a vintage-lover to chase every new trend, or a tomboy athlete she should always be in heels.
They teach her, each individual (who they really seem to get to know and appreciate) to feel her best. To embrace her own beauty. And to reflect who she really is, by dressing in a way that fits with her truest self.
The style remedies aren’t one size fits all.
They’re as unique as the women being made over.
Sometimes the focus is on finding great-fitting jeans and
sweaters and sometimes it’s cocktail dresses and stilettos.
But whatever the clients take home as part of their $5,000 new wardrobes, it pales in comparison to the real gift the show provides.
The hosts, Stacy and Clinton (I like to pretend we’re on a first-name basis now) force the women they help to take a deep, long look at themselves.
And they teach them to focus not on what’s wrong, but on what’s right.
When it comes time for haircuts and makeup, even some of the most austere “victims” often lose control.
And while I’m sure there are impervious women out there, who don’t know why a poor sap would start weeping about side bangs or lip gloss, I’m always glad to see the meltdowns.
Not because I'm a sadist, but because I know (from having watched so many episodes of WNTW now) that the other side of that meltdown is wonderful.
It’s a woman embracing her inner beauty,
and letting that shine for the world to see.
Smart and shy? They’ll teach you to come out of your shell.
Dressed like a hooker ‘cause you’re scared your man will lose interest and leave?
They teach you to dress classy sexy (which I’ve learned does not involve green Spandex as pants, or any amount of side cleavage).
Basically, they teach people to play up their best features, and to look past the flaws they can’t change.
They encourage healing and moving past deep wounds, by putting one’s best foot forward, in a stylish shoe no less.
And I know a haircut can’t fix all a girl’s problems.
A new jacket won’t make your career dreams come true.
But I think there is something to be said for a message that encourages you to strive to be your best, while accepting yourself where you’re at.
In a culture saturated with skeletal models, and with airbrushed movie stars looking down on us at every grocery store checkout, it’s nice to see real women learning to appreciate their unique beauty.
It’s nice to see real people accepting themselves, and becoming braver in the process.
I've learned a lot about fashion from What Not to Wear, but it's the lessons in bravery that I value the most.
It turns out Stacy knows a thing or two about learning confidence the hard way.
This story about her past and future is super inspiring. Make sure to check it out!
By the way, the initiative to finally publish this post that's been in draft stage far too long came from Anne the Adventurer's blog linkup.
She's encouraging others to write about beauty and body image, their own stories and what's inspiring them.
The show and this blog linkup (and maybe my birthday) are just a few of the things inspiring me lately.
What's inspiring you to be more accepting of yourself?