Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Slapping the Snooze Button on a Major Wake-up Call

I'm sure you've either watched an episode, or seen promos for the reality TV show, 'What Not to Wear.' The format of this half hour of "learning through someone else's" pain starts with an ambush surprise of the person who is about to have her (usually her) entire wardrobe tossed for new, appropriately stylish for their age, lifestyle and body shape. The subject of each episode gets $5,000 to create a new wardrobe, but there is much greater cost to being selected as a subject: her dignity.

I've watched the show a couple of times; probably less than 3 hours of my life all together. After the first two episodes, I was hoping that one of my friends was going to "save me" by secretly videotaping my outfits and nominate me to be a candidate on the show. Then I saw two more episodes where the subjects were completely broken down. There's a lot of baggage behind body image. Thirty minutes on national TV is no instant fix.

The 5th episode I watched, I'll be honest, was in and out of consciousness during the flu. It still counts.

Since the 5th espisode, I've blogged about not caring about wearing ChuckT's to work. In fact, there've been a few good friends who were trying to be gentle with me in their comments about them. I even wore them to the annual staff party last year. Why? I found a gazillion excuses.

And I wonder why some people don't take me seriously. When it's all said and done, people should take my work seriously, not my choice of footwear. Should. Some people can't get beyond it.

I'm not going to change who I am. But I'm ready to change the packaging. Because, contrary to last year's protestations, I really do care. I care a lot.

Here's the thing. I'm surrounded by college students and young professionals where I work. While most of them never age (graduation and a new class of freshmen every year), I do. While I know I look younger than my age, I'm still not presenting myself as a 47 year old career woman. Yes, I'm 47. You want to make something of that?

Belligerently defying cultural norms of work place attire only works for those professionals who never appear in public. I never realized how public I am until my boss pointed it out to me last year. My new job accountabilities have me more in public than ever. I also have to be a grown up and now that I'm not just representing myself, I'm representing the institution, the arts, and a bunch of people who take their presentation seriously. I'm ready to shed my former identity. I'm ready to evolve. It's been ten years since pre-maternity; this current body isn't going to change any time soon. So I can make more excuses or....

I tripped onto a local style consultant. Literally, tripped onto finding her through the Lehigh Valley Style Magazine's E-commerce center. Her name is Kathy Moses. I watched my 6th episode as a way to get ready for this consultation. For me, my wardrobe limitations start with the shoes. It's always the G-D- shoes!

Kathy came to my house to do a complete wardrobe assessment. I was ready to throw out everything and start from scratch. That's what I learned from TV, after all.

Luckily, Kathy showed me how to make some of the pieces of my wardrobe work, how to start sprucing it up, and which pieces no longer work for me. I'm sure Steve will be relieved to know that I'm not going to need to budget a ton into an emerging fashion diva. After doing last night's budget projections for the kids' fall extra-curricular activities.... I was getting ready for a nice experience, but was prepared to keep the wardrobe lessons in the dream folder.

This is the "radical" thing I announced on Monday. What's the big deal? Ask any middle aged woman who's trying to accept where she is in life, and let go of previous images that keep making her depressed. It's the trigger that gets us to sign up for crazy diet programs, insane eating binges, or worse, thinking that her body is bad. I recognize that this is the pinnacle of first world problems.

What was the trigger this time? A former student asked a question on twitter, posed to 20-30 year olds; "Do you feel like an adult?" My first reaction was, "me neither." Then I realized, I am an adult. A dang fun adult, who loves the responsibilities: career, husband, kids, homeowner, dog owner, etc.

I'm ready for more of this. I hope to share some of the lessons on this blog, #Frump2Fab; keeping it from daily Twitter noise, because Lawd knows there's too much noise there. I'm hoping that in 3 months time, all my clothes really work for me.

Wanna know how dire the situation is? I actually wore this- - - - - - - >
to work this  week.

Save me, Kathy!

(don't worry, I'm not donating the Chuck's. - they're still good for Girl Scouts and kilt crawls.)

Oh... and another big radical change? I gave up eating meat.

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