Friday, May 13, 2005
What Not to Fear
Listen to Stacy: TLC's What Not to Wear
While the American version of BBC's brilliant The Office may leave much to be desired, the American version of What Not To Wear is really really good. In fact, it's as good as the original, and over the course of the past two seasons it has grown into its own distinctive animal.
Hosts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly are so super-fun. In fact, we often refer to Stacy as our "TV girlfriend." You know how Paige Davis (from Trading Spaces) seems sort of cuckoo? Well, Stacy and Clinton are the opposite: so cool and crush-worthy that we've happily capped off many a friday night by having a glass a wine to the sound of their wisdom. And while they might poke fun at the participants' puzzling wardrobes (and believe us, some of them are utterly baffling ) it's obvious that their mission is not only to help people look better, but literally to help people feel better. Their relationship with clothes is so complex and evolved that it legitimately can be called a philosophy, and we've witnessed its transformative effects. Although the anthropoligists among us may be somewhat cognizant of the multiple roles our wardrobes play, its likely that most of us are not fully aware of what our clothes communicate. And Stacy and Clinton remind people to think critically about what they wear, and that's cool. We love thinking about how clothes relate to identity and politics.
While the participants represent a wide range of backgrounds and ages, our favorites (of course!!!) are the women. Stacy is an advocate of what I like to call "feminist fashion" -- a way of dressing that empowers women by helping them feel confident, expressive, imaginative, and powerful. By developing a new relationship with clothes, these women develop a more positive relationship with themselves. They learn to love their bodies, personalities, and sexuality.
So much of the way fashion is picthed in magazines and retail spaces seems intent on inspiring people to spend money because they feel deficient in some way. They are not thin enough, sexy enough, rich enough, young enough . . .No matter what -- they are not enough. Given these conditions, it shouldn't come as a surprise that so many people hate shopping for clothes. The trick it seems, is to effectively transform the power-dynamics of garment retail by rethinking one's relationship with themselves. Don't let it bring you down -- let it lift you up!
And it's amazing really, how deeply personal What Not to Wear's week-long forray into a fashion-makeover becomes. In fact, Stacy and Clinton help people understand that dressing badly is usually connected to much more than a misplaced affection for acid wash or mixed prints. More often than not, participants are forced to confront issues they've been strategically avoiding or neglecting for years. And while the program usually reveals enough to effectively narrate each participant's transformation, it never does so in a way that seems overly voyeuristic. Throughout the process the guests are treated with sensitivity and dignity. We'd like to see more reality programming follow suit. It just seems to generate better karma.
You may have heard the addage, "Walk a path of love, not fear" and this seems to be the sentiment that most informs the approach of our beloved style gurus.
So hang up those hang ups and wear the love!
You can nominate us for the show here.