Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Thankless Job

"She looks a little frustrated. It looks like Marybeth is having trouble following our rules. Let's go give her a hand..." Stacey and Clinton dash to her aid, rushing in to pick the perfect wardrobe and save the day.
A favorite "guilty pleasure" of mine is TLC's "What Not to Wear". Truthfully, I have no idea what channel TLC is, or what time the show airs; I just know that from time to time, I catch it when someone is channel surfing, and it can, like any other addiction, lead to hours wasted and a desire for more. But, comfort comes in knowing I am not alone; Christine will watch it, Scott will watch it.

There is universal appeal in watching the transformation of a Plain Jane in PJ's to a fierce femme fatale, ready to conquer the world of business or intimidate the other moms at the school bus stop. It's an alluring concept that goes far beyond "what not to wear." It is the story of rescue. Stacey and Clinton ride in to town, single out some unsuspecting waif in need, and rescue her from the perils of mom jeans and mane clips. They hand over a credit card worth $5,000, stipulate the terms of her expenditures, and set her loose in New York to indulge her wildest dreams. After a "recoiffe" and some gentle reproach over eyeliner, the lesson is complete. At the end of the show, our damsel in distress faces her family and peers, some of whom could spend a thousand or two themselves, to "show off her new look." Rave reviews and a modeling-type photo shoot fade to black as we are left to imagine how much better her life is now that she has been pulled from the mire.

From time to time, I am not the cheery, optimistic little sprite that I appear to be. Even then, Stacey and Clinton smile their way into my doldrums and brighten my day or, and this is so much better -- become the objects of my odiousness. I disparage their every effort, and criminate their suggestions. I encourage Marybeth to "be comfortable -- wear sweats." Indignantly I cry, "Who died and put them in charge of skivvies? Who are they to tell anyone how to dress? Do they even know what life is like outside their Designer Row bubble" I scoff at the likelihood their Cinderella will abide by their rules for more than a week or two. "Oh, sure, she looks like that now, but when she goes back home to BillyBob who comes home from work smelling like something between auto paint and raw sewage, and she's been nuking chicken nuggets for the crumb snatchers all day, she'll slip right back into flip-flops and hair scrunchies. Nobody can look like that all the time! What happens at six in the morning when she stumbles to the kitchen in her cut-offs and robe for a quiet cup of coffee and a moment of escapism, only to find she's out of half & half? You really think she's going to don her Jimmy Choos and curl her lashes before she heads out to the Swiss Farm? Please, it's a drive-thru! You'll be lucky if she brushes her teeth!" And, "What about the morning after pizza night, when her size ten body feels like a fully-expanded size fourteen water balloon? You think she's going to put on dress slacks and 'the perfect blazer' to pack bagged lunches and clerk at the Walmart?"

Despite all this, Stacey and Clinton forge ahead, lurking behind racks of clothing and "tsk,tsking" at their pitiable, recalcitrant trainees who flounder in a sea of empire-waist blouses and embellished necklines. Conclusion: they are certifiable, altruistic, or making a fortune. I'd like to think they live with the belief that, if they can help just one person, it will have been worth all the effort. (Isn't that what philanthropists say when they are discouraged by public apathy?) Unfortunately, today I am feeling a bit "unsprite-like," and I am willing to bet they are renegotiating their contracts with every muffin-top they eradicate. Then again, bringing fashion to a population of wannabe strippers in belly-hugging spandex or moms who wear knee socks with granny skirts and Birkenstocks? There's not enough money in the world.
Post a Comment