Monday, December 13, 2010


Okay- so I used to be a fan of What Not to Wear on TLC.  Clinton and Stacey could be quite funny, and, never having much money to shop, and generally being an enjoyer of fashion, I liked the hour of fantasy shopping. It's good old escapeist, fashion, fun.   I'd love the 5000$ shopping trip.  Really.

But two nights ago, as L. and I were wrapping Boy-o's birthday gifts, it became abundantly clear that Clinton and Stacey have begun to take themselves way too seriously.   Here's my response to them.

Dear Clinton and Stacey:

The other night, my partner and I watched an episode centred around a girl's choir/glee coach and mom (of a daughter) who needed some fashion help.  Okay - so far, so good.  Nothing too nefarious or out of the norm, here.  But it became quickly apparent that this show was going to be dedicated to teaching women that their worth in the world is, in fact, skin deep.

You repeatedly ask this poor woman if she believes she is a good role model for her daughter, and for the girl's in the choir.  She says 'Yes.'  Presumably, she's a good mother and a good choir coach - which, is, for most folks, the stuff of role-modeling.  Not so.  You inform her time and time again that the message she is sending her daughter, and her female students (I believe the gender of these children is paramount to the message) with her fashion is that "she has given up on herself", that she "doesn't care about herself" etc. etc.  etc.  And you repeatedly insinuate that she is not actually a good role model, due to her poor choice in fashion. 

I cannot even count the number of times she is asked, in a really condescending/pseudo concerned tone of voice: "What message do you think you are sending your students/your daughter?"  Even by the f@cking hairdresser.  I was literally yelling at my television set.  (I wonder if  this angle would have been harped on nearly as much if her child and students were boys, by the way.)

So - Clinton and Stacey - here's the thing.  Having nice clothes and presenting yourself well - this is not the stuff that makes you a role-model.     I would really like to recommend to you a wonderful book by an author named Robert Munsch.  It's called "The Paperbag Princess."  I think you both could learn a lot from it.  Really

And just so you know - I'm a great role-model to my kids whether I wear yoga pants or a power suit to the grocery store.  I'm a great role-model because I role because I model compassion, strength, dignity, bravery, respect for others and honesty with my actions and my words.  I'm a great role-model because I teach my kids that they can feel good about themselves wearing a garbage bag - because who they are doesn't change with their outer covering. 

Nice clothes are great.  I covet them all of the time.  They can make you feel good.  They can help give you a confidence boost.  Fashion can be beautiful.  Fashion can be art.  Down with bad fashion!  Rah, Rah and all that jazz.  I'm right there with ya there.  But wearing ballet flats and a nice skirt to take my kids to the park, while it might make me feel saucier, isn't actually going to make me a better mom, or a better person, or as you like to say, a better role model.  And conversely -  the fact that you two are just swimming in money to buy yourselves all kinds of nice clothes - doesn't so much make you good role models, either.   

Just a little food for thought from a ticked off, badly clothed and excellent role-model of a mama.


Mama T


  1. Greetings, Mama T-

    I found you through a link on the Ami.Mental site and have been reading and enjoying your blog for a few months. Loved the piece you did on Erica Jong- a friend of a friend who was dedicated to the attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding philosophies recently made a suicide attempt.

    I started out hating WNTW because it seemed like their recommendations were the same regardless of body type or individual tastes/lifestyles. The short denim jacket and, as I am fond of calling them, the pointy-toed bitch shoes seemed to be the C&S standard uniform. How creative!
    While they're generally kind and really trying to help people, I really hate it when they completely disregard their client's expressed wishes.

    A full-time mom was concerned about how well she could look after her kids wearing one of their chosen outfits. Stacy was incredulous when the woman tested it out by crawling around on the floor, which moms have been known to do. I believe Stacy's response was something like, "Who gets down on their hands and knees in a suit?" Gee, Stacy, maybe your recommendations should fit the client, rather than the other way around.

    I really felt sorry for the older woman from TX who seemed like she would be most at home in a honkytonk bar. They cut her hair very short, against her wishes, and she looked like it was all she could do to keep from crying in front of the camera for the reveal. Yeah, nothing like a dose of C&S humiliation to make you feel better about yourself.

    Keep up the good work, Mama T.

  2. I hate that show, personally. I find too much stuff on tv is about superficial things making you a better person instead of working on yourself at a deeper level. I can appreciate a beautiful person but if they aren't beautiful inside then who cares what they're wearing. And vice versa. Annie had a good song: You're never fully dressed without a smile. :P