Saturday, January 21, 2006

What Not To Think

One of my favourite guilty pleasures is watching the BBC's What Not To Wear.

Currently screening on pay-TV, the fashion makeover show takes everyday women and shows them how to dress to suit their shape. Hosts Susannah Constantine and Trinny Woodall happily poke, prod and occasionally yell at their subjects in order to save them from their fashion faux pas.

Superficial? It would be if it were not for the fascinating discussions Trinny and Susannah have with these women. Explorations of self-esteem, how one relates to oneself and others provide a psychological framework for the physical transformation that is to come.

These women (of all different ages and all different sizes) learn to see themselves as attractive, vital people again.

Clothes maketh the (wo)man? Perhaps, but probably only in the sense that all women have a desire to look and feel attractive and will use clothes as a barometer of how they feel about themselves.

And that is at the heart of the appeal.

Nicky and I were discussing the program on Tuesday and observed that its spot-on message was gorgeously politically incorrect: 'dress like a woman and show off the figure God gave you'.

I wondered how long it would be before some pucker-face feminist weighed in to tell us all how awful it is.

The answer is, not long at all:

Trinny and Susannah are dogged pursuers of their own agenda; glamorously, mercilessly oblivious to any one else's. Every woman has the right - no, the duty - to look sexy and up for it, any time of day, work or play. And eventually the hapless do come around. Do they have a choice?

Frankly, it says more about journalist Janice Breen Burns (who, surprisingly, has the job as The Age fashion editor) than it does about Trinny and Susannah and the women they dress.

-- Nora

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