My husband thinks I am a dork. Most Friday nights around 8:55pm CST, I cry. I cry tears of joy. I cry tears of love. I cry tears of recognition and pride. I cry tears of beauty – inside and out. I cry because I am watching TLC’s What Not to Wear.
It is one of my favorite shows and it recently celebrated its 250th episode. As often as I can, I force my husband to sit through the show on a Friday night; although I think he actually enjoys it more than he will admit. Recently I was thrilled to see that the show is also on around lunchtime so I will catch it every so often when I am able to take a lunch break at home.
After watching an episode recently, it really sunk in why I truly love the show. It is not just because of the witty banter and great advice from Clinton and Stacy or because it is moving to see the transformation these brave women go through in just a short few days. But it is because I realized these style mavens use the same process I do with my clients. In three steps of awareness, release, and acceptance whether on TLC or in my office, people can make major changes in their lives.
The first step is to become aware of how one’s actions, reactions, and choices are affecting their lives. Some people are aware of their choices and just need help making better ones. But some people are not consciously aware of their choices or the need to make new ones. These individuals really benefit from the secret footage and input from their friends and family to finally take a realistic look at the image they are projecting. Sometimes an outside perspective can help us see things we would not uncover on our own.
Part of the awareness process is to become aware of reality versus perception. This is very blatant when it comes to clothing and the body. so many women have a distorted vision of themselves and their bodies. They “see” their body parts as bigger, smaller, longer, or shorter than they really are. I remember one episode involving a woman who had lost a significant amount of weight, but she was unable to see herself in her new body. The style duo brilliantly had her draw her perception of her shape full-size on a wall. Then Clinton traced her actual body on the same wall. There were inches of difference between her perception and the reality of her shape. This visualization was exactly what she needed to begin chipping away at her misperception. Often I will do the same with my clients. We question the misperceptions in their thoughts and help them to realize that what they believe is true may not be.
The next hurdle is learning how to release old habits and embrace new ones. On the show this is experienced dramatically by Stacy and Clinton mercilessly reviewing each and every piece of clothing owned and throwing out the ones that are not serving the individual well.
Some women on the show, often overworked mothers, need to learn to love and care for themselves again or sometimes for the very first time. They need to release the view that they are not important. They need to release the excuse that they do not have enough time. Basically these women have minimized themselves and their role in the world. It is amazing to see how putting on strong, flattering clothing can help them see themselves as significant again.
Another category of What Not to Wear women are the ones who are dressing a certain way because of their fear of being misunderstood. Check out the video about the so-called tough chick. She was afraid of embracing her femininity because she believed that she would “feel weak and fragile.” It is amazing to see how her attitude shifts from defensive and aggressive at the beginning of the show to confident and powerful at the end.
Some women dress to hide and some dress in the clothes of their younger years because they are afraid of letting go of the past. No matter the reason, once they have learned the deep meaning and reason behind their choices, they can begin the process of releasing the beliefs and assumptions that do not serve them. This is the very emotional process of letting go of who we believe we are to allow who we truly are to shine through.
Which leads us to our last step, acceptance. This is when the lucky woman on the show can finally see herself as she truly is and come to accept herself. So often women believe they need to look like the latest supermodel to be considered beautiful. But Stacy and Clinton do a wonderful job of helping women truly see their body and how to make their unique shape look the best that it can. We are all unique. Once we can accept our uniqueness and to dress and take care of ourselves the way appropriate for us (not what society says we should do), then we can come into not only acceptance, but self love. When women who hid, masked, or ignored themselves now burst vibrantly into a room of their loved ones, I cry. Seeing someone come into their own, love and accept themselves as they truly are, and stop hiding, masking or ignoring their bodies, brings tears to my eyes. My emotion mirrors the joy these women feel now that they have found their true essence.
So next time you get a chance, check out an episode of What Not to Wear and join in the joy of watching these women come into the power of accepting and embracing who they truly are. I won’t tell anyone if you cry.