Clinton Kelly and Stacy London host The Learning Channel's popular fashion reality show, What Not To Wear. I discovered this show just one episode before its recent season finale. It's been on for years and I don't know how I've missed it. I happened to catch a rerun one afternoon and was hooked. Initially, I thought there was no way they could make an entire series out of telling people how to dress; but after watching, I realized it's about so much more than clothes.
First, they ambush the “contributor” (what they call the person getting the makeover), and offer them 5000 dollars to go shopping in New York City by their rules. In exchange, Clinton and Stacy get to throw away their wardrobe and teach the person how to shop for appropriate clothing. During the tossing out process the contributor has to go into the 360 degree mirror to see how their clothes really look. Stacy and Clinton join them in the small space and mercilessly point out everything that is wrong with the outfit. It's often called "the dreaded 360" but what would scare me the most isn't the view, it's what Stacy and Clinton would have to say. I love them but, to be honest, they also scare me.
The contributors must show what they've learned by shopping alone on the first day. Cameras follow them while the hosts watch and make comments about what's right or wrong with the clothing choices. Stacy and Clinton shop with them on the second day to help complete their new wardrobe. This is when we usually get to see the compassionate side of the hosts. They are often generous with hugs and words of encouragement for the contributor.
At the end of the week contributors are given a new hair style and makeup tips and model their new look for Clinton and Stacy. The usually intimidatingly harsh Stacy is made lovable by her occasional tearful excitement with the results. Contributors have a more confident walk, they look good, and now they feel good. So while some may find the idea of how we look superficial, this show proves how we feel inside is reflected on the outside. And you can change how you feel by simply looking good.
This show has been working on me. My daily life involves rescued animals with serious behavioral/health issues so I don't give much thought to my appearance, especially since my thyroid stopped doing its job and requires two different medications. When I was thin, I would dress nicely and had the best shoes. Weight gain and thinning hair… I just didn't care. I mean, now I'm a woman with just one pair of shoes—the dogs destroyed the others. Thanks to What Not To Wear, though I'm still wearing the sweats and t-shirts, I'm taking more care to match them up. I'm taking more time with hair and wearing makeup more often.
What brought about these changes, you may ask? Stacy and Clinton aren't about being skinny. “Dress the body that you have” is something you hear often on the show. It's not about your weight, it's about the cut and fit of the clothes. It's like they give us bigger girls permission not to be embarrassed. My favorite Stacy London quote: “Let go of who you were and allow yourself to become who you are.” Words to live by!