Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I have a confession -- there's ONE network television program i do enjoy watching, and that's What Not to Wear.  I see my younger self in some of the "frights" that are featured on the show, and i really rejoice in their ultimate realization of how good they CAN look, when a little insight is able to get them past a few preconceived notions.

Women who are past their "first youth" are frequently poster-children for the whole makeover concept.  Often, those who had their heyday in their school days cling to the look that worked for them back then, and those of us who were (speaking charitably) "cute" strive to find a style that will take us to an improved level, at least.  When we've done our subjective best to look as good as we can, the results can be ... ahem ... not what we intended.  Some are just dated or dowdy, some trampy, and some (who pride themselves on intellect, personality and imagination) go for a quirky look.  In the end, some of these individualists turn up on WNtW.

I believe that it's both a product of society and hard-wired in women to want to look pretty* (and as a corollary, feel loved).  When nature is less than generous, we turn to art to bring it about, but ... doesn't Art go through phases of being less-aesthetically-pleasing from time to time?  (Well, at least i think it does....)  Society then rewards the more attractive and penalizes the less-so, both professionally and in social relationships.  It just reinforces what we suspected all along -- if you're pretty, you win, and if you're not, the universe hates you and you're just SOL.  It's hard not to be sour and negative.

The thing you see, over and over, with these semi-unattractive subjects on WNtW is a persistent, unrelenting negativity.  One "failure" when they try on some item of clothing, and that kind of item CANNOT look good on them.  They see another item of clothing, and it reminds them of something unappealing in their past, and THAT item is tabooed.  Then, one of these items, that fits properly and is chosen mindfully, is tried on and -- miracle of miracles -- is suddenly a success.  Sometimes, a really becoming outfit is brushed aside because the wearer doesn't look the way she wishes she did, in it.  Some of them have a hard time accepting a compliment (and i credit the hosts and aestheticians, that their compliments are believable and not overblown); they've been efficiently brainwashed to not celebrate their best points, only to bemoan their worst ones.

The psychological conditioning we all experience growing up, from family and friends and society at large, is often HORRIBLE.  People who SAY they love us, frequently set us up to fail, and it takes some of us an awfully long time to rise above it ... if we ever do.  We need our successes to encourage us to more effort, and we need to view our failures in a realistic light.  None of us, not the most beautiful, is flawless.  NONE of us.  We DESERVE to be able to think well of ourselves for anything positive in our hearts, minds and bodies, even if it's a gift of nature rather than "earned."  The stupid societal proscription of "vanity" as a manipulative tool to keep people from being braggarts constantly overshoots its aim, resulting in self-defeating diffidence and feelings of worthlessness.  That's BAD.  

DAMN repressive monastic asceticism.  It's "medieval" in the worst possible way.  Keeping people in their place -- i.e., not allowing them to shine -- is a hellish practice, and will reap the karmic reward it so flagrantly deserves.

One of my friends from community-theatre days taught me a lesson that i happily practice as often as possible.  If i THINK something nice about a person, even a stranger's beautiful eyes or clothing, i tell them so.  Maybe they need to hear it.
*  it's funny -- "ugly" men can be very attractive.  Doesn't seem to work the same for women.


  1. Best line from my father, a former bull rider and welder, when I turned on WNTW one night:

    "I've already seen this one."

  2. lol! i like versatile people!