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Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Not to Wear-

I am not particularly fond of network television. I am not particularly aware of fashion. My taste regarding (and application of) clothing is rather rudimentary. Clothes keep me warm and help me to not be unduly offensive to other people. So, I have not gravitated to such shows as What Not to Wear. My wife, however, has been watching the show for some time.

Since moving to Medford, Oregon, and getting settled in our new home I have spent a bit more time watching some of the shows she likes. My own pursuits tend to be a bit reclusive, and the lack of shared experience can be problematic. Watching the shows she likes is a way to correct this. Hence, I have come to watch What Not to Wear. I have found it surprisingly interesting, but not for the fashion aspect.

The premise of the show is that people nominate a friend or family member for a make-over. The two hosts of the show gather up the nominee and proceed to teach that person to shop for fashionable clothing. Then comes a reworking of hair and make-up. The show is seemingly exclusively focused on females, presumably because a large percentage of males are fashion neanderthals, such as myself.

The hosts are witty and constructively critical. More importantly, they are compassionate and seem sincere in declaring their charges as 'beautiful,' and seeking to help that person to find their beauty. I have been fascinated to see how relatively small are the changes these people make in the dress and rituals of preparation to achieve a significant result.

What is the cost of all of this? The hosts provide a $5,000 card for shopping. The hair and make-up stylists are contracted, and quite skilled. On the whole, it is not something most people could afford to do for themselves. Still, the message is better than I expected.

I perceive fashion as a dictatorial market driving force, compelling people to constantly replace the material things in their lives with new material things, ultimately to the point of excessive debt and impoverishment. It is a social force that allow people to establish a pecking order without resorting to violence and bloodshed.

The show in question presents fashion as a mode of self-expression within the confines of a nebulous set of rules, establishing self-esteem and esteem among other people. I suspect that the quest for the definition of the set of rules is part of the fun, if this kind of thing can be fun. I see that it might be, but money seems to be the key to success. How unusual.

In a similar vein I recall finding a bin of socks in a sporting goods store, at a very nice discount. I asked why the socks were discounted so much. "Oh, those are last year's stock." was the answer. Fashion, in sporting goods. How is it I never saw that before? "I can't use those crampons this year. They are last year's model! What will all of the other ice climbers think?"

I may never be sold on the idea of fashion. I certainly don't expect to ever be fashionable, and am untroubled by that prospect. I am, however, a bit more positive on the idea of encouraging people to embrace changes in their lives to find better ways to live. If fashion can serve in that capacity, perhaps I can embrace it to that degree.

I still have little fondness for network television. However, my wife seems to enjoy sharing her viewing experiences, and I can't deny that I have found some things interesting. People doing puzzles on an island. People traveling around the world at an insane pace. Women going shopping and getting their hair and make-up done.

It could be worse. She could like Jersey Shore.


Jerry said...

I am pretty much averse to what is called Reality TV. I just can't get excited about people racing, arguing, losing weight, and whatnot. Altho it does sound as if this makeover show does have some merit.

Murr Brewster said...

I don't think I've seen any reality show except What Not To Wear, which I tripped over, and I loved it. Almost everyone they pick is someone who claims not to care, but they are usually revealed to be hiding themselves. And when they finally look wonderful, they weep. I wish someone would nominate me. I'd still wear my puffin pajamas all day but I wouldn't mind knowing what looked good on me if I absolutely had to pull it together.