TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” but exactly how to feel

I just witnessed an amazing thing on TLC’s What Not to Wear. A woman –who when faced with trying to put together new outfits for a new, professional, hip look –had a complete meltdown every time she tried something on because it was too tight, too loose or she looked too pretty or too ugly.

When you walk into a dressing room carrying your six items, how do you feel? Are you nervous or excited? Like many women, I’m nervous –especially if I’m trying to buy a new bra, which is the most horrible dressing room experience ever.

What about when you leave? How many items are you carrying out? Six? Oh, to the fitting room attendant. Yeah, I do that, too.

It is so hard to be your own final judgment call.

I can have something beautiful on and NOT buy it because it’s just a bit too revealing of my legs, an area I’m very self-conscious about, or it squeezes too tight around my middle, and I feel fat or like I shouldn’t be wearing something like that because I’m not good enough for it.

While I have never actually broken down in a dressing room, let alone on national television, I know what it’s like to fall apart just by looking in a mirror. I know what it is like to hate every thing I see and not have a good reason for it other than very low self-esteem.

Her name was Sarah, the woman on the show; and like me she didn’t know how to take a compliment, how to feel pretty or even what pretty was.

But, for one week, she had a support group; and it was probably the only time I’ve seen anybody on a “reality television show” –especially one like “What Not to Wear,” where the point is to tear apart somebody’s fashion decisions –treat someone with compassion and care. I think they actually cared –at least the gay guy did –that she should feel good about herself.

Even if they did not care, I do. Like Sarah, I gave myself a week to try , and my support group was myself, Husband, my coworkers and my friends, and everyone who read and commented on my Challenge Week.

I have more self-confidence now. I hope Sarah does, too. And I hope you do, too.

If you’re not, try giving yourself a week.

7 thoughts on “TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” but exactly how to feel

  1. broadsideblog

    I love the show because it’s not really about clothes, but about (re) finding the confidence to break free of your misery and self-doubt around how you look. I bought a pair of funky lace-up boots yesterday and thought “What the hell?” They’re comfortable AND stylish and I would never have dared step beyond my comfort zone even a few years ago into something so fun. Now, why not?

    I never, ever, ever go into dressing rooms anymore. I buy stuff, take it home, check it out in the privacy and silence of home — see if it goes with my other things — and return it if not.

    Buying bras makes me insane, too. I think it does for many women!

    The single loudest nasty voice in my head, for decades, was my skinny/rich/competitive stepmother. I never had any self-confidence around her. She died three years ago and now, sad to say because of that, I do.


    • skinnyshae

      I’ve always loved the show, but felt terrible for the people who really were just cluelessly cute when Stacy and Clinton just destroyed them. So I always kind of hated it, too.

      This episode, though, really touched home and told me that I am not the only one who feels completely mortified by their body image (and just wishes they could hide). It’s good to feel commonality like that, and it’s good to have constant support like that.

      I always buy funky things and they sit in my closet for years! Oh, no! You better wear your boots! I’ve got a funky dress that I love because it’s very tropical and flowing, but it’s white -so I won’t wear it anywhere. I’m such a dork.

      And what is it with dressing room mirrors that make everything in them look shorter, fatter and more unattractive? And the lighting? Oh I hate it!

      I have a lot of little voices in my head, but I hate to say none of them are as loud or as judgmental as my own. I compare myself to other people, and I always lose the war. There is no one in my brain more loud or hateful than myself. I’m not happy about this, but I’m working on fixing it.

      Good luck to you


  2. Pamela O'Neal

    I just got done watching that myself. You were right, it was a really good show. I’ve battled the self-confidence thing as well and I can tell you how wonderful it feels to get that confidence back once you’ve lost it. She was right, it’s a journey. I think it’s an ongoing journey.
    Sometimes I slip and I actually listen to that negative voice. But it’s not overpowering like it used to be and I certainly don’t hear it as often as I used to. I hope you continue to do well on your journey. And remember, I’m just upstairs, the coffee is on and waiting whenever you need it.


    • skinnyshae

      Oh, Pam! Thank you so much! I’ll never take the coffee and talking for granted.

      Good luck with your continued you journey. Sometimes I listen to the negative voice, too; but hopefully she’ll shut up soon, and I can just listen to myself.


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