Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wardrobe Wednesday: Extremes

Beauty is individual. –Ted Gibson

I started this little series of Wardrobe Wednesday posts to show off the crazy bargains I've gotten recently on some really cute clothes. I think of it as my What-Not-To-Wear-on-a-shoestring-budget experiment. Today's post, which has been rattling around in my brain for a couple of weeks, is a little more serious than some of the others. But it is something that I feel is important.

Have you ever watched Extreme Makeover? Not the Home Edition, because that is based on a totally different premise. I'm talking about the one where they completely make-over your appearance, starting with total body plastic surgery {hence the extreme in the title} and including a private recovery location complete with personal trainer and chef. I only watched one episode and that was enough for me. Thinking of something the plastic surgeon said in an interview, “we make you look like you, only better,” I went to the mirror and started tugging on my chin, thinking to myself, “it would be prettier if it were a little smoother. And my eyes would look better if they were a little less pouchy in the eyelid area. And if I could get rid of these freckles and that extra chin and the bit of belly fat . . . ” and on and on it went. Until I realized that there is absolutely nothing wrong with how I look and there was everything wrong with a show that made me feel like I needed surgery to be pretty.

You see, I'd bought into the myth that in order to be beautiful, you have to be thin with no imperfections in your appearance. This myth drives women to unhealthy and even dangerous extremes. This is pervasive myth; you see it everywhere, from shows that advocate surgery to change your appearance to magazines and TV shows. Skinny is equated with beauty. I love what the article Sex Appeal and Thin Ideals, by Beauty REDIFINED had to say about this subject. If you have a minute, click on over and read the whole thing. I wanted to share a little bit of it here.

Remember it is reasonable to assume no image we ever see of a woman in media has gone un-manipulated. Today, magazine editors refer to airbrushing as an industry standard. Plus, vertical film stretching to make women appear taller and thinner is a common technique, as are filtered lenses on cameras and soft lighting, which do away with wrinkles, pores, and other so-called “blemishes.” The next time you start comparing yourself to a woman in a magazine, remember that even she doesn’t fit the ideal she’s made to represent!

I find it a sad commentary on society as a whole, that “absolute perfection” is required to be considered beautiful and that the media perpetuates the notion that every woman should fit into the “rail thin” or “runway waif” category. One of the things that I like most about What Not to Wear is that the hosts, Stacy and Clinton tell each contributor that she is beautiful and then they encourage her to find the beauty of who she is right now and not who she used to be in the past or who she might be in the future. Part of their process is to weed through their wardrobe and get rid of anything that doesn't fit, has holes in it or is stained or damaged in any way, or isn't flattering. Not every piece of clothing is made for every woman. By getting rid of clothes that are too big due to weight loss or clothes that are too small due to weight gain, they help the women get rid of the baggage associated with those items. Holding onto a piece of clothing because someday you might fit in it again isn't a healthy attitude.

I kind of like the idea {from Beauty REDIFINED} that your reflection does not define your worth. It is a fine line to walk; putting effort in to how you look, while maintaining that appearance isn't everything. The two ideas seem contradictory. But I don't think they really are. People make assumptions about you based on what you wear and how you present yourself. Why not let those things represent the beautiful person you really are?

I love this little floral peasant top. It came from Wal-Mart and was a grand total of $9.88. The jeans and cardigan are from Wal-Mart as well and the shoes are from Payless. The entire outfit was under $50 and I absolutely love the way it makes me feel. I'd really like to make a couple more tops just like this one. I've gone back and forth in my mind between making a pattern from the top I already have or buying another one and cutting it up to use as a pattern. I'd probably do a better job that way, but it kills me to spend $9.88 on something that I'm going to cut up. The debate continues, but I'd better decide soon or they'll be sold out of my size.

Floral Peasant Top, Wal-Mart
Retail: $9.88
Out-the-door: $9.88

Flare Jeans, Wal-Mart
Retail: $15.88
Out-the-door: $15.88

Cap-Sleeve Layering Tee, Impel Clothing
Retail: $18.00
Out-the-door: $7.00

Gray trousers, TJ Maxx
Retail: $60ish
Out the door: $16.99

Coral Cardigan, Wal-Mart
I can't remember exactly, but I would guess $15

American Eagle Women's Avery Bow Flat, Payless Shoes, Payless Shoes
Retail: $19.99
Out-the-door: $7.25

The next time you look in the mirror and the negative self-talk starts, tell yourself this instead: You're amazing, just the way you are!


whimsyfox said...

You look so cute! Great outfit. Lovely shoes.
I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. I'm a huge WNTW fan, though haven't watched in a long while. I did watch a bit more than one episode of that Extreme Makeover, but it was pretty disgusting how much "stuff" they had done. On a funny sidenote, the Lasik Doctor on EM (@ the time I watched that show 6 yrs ago) was the one that I went to when I was planning to have Lasik done. (he was the friend of my Walmart optometrist & had done her eyes). (Un)Fortunately I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter 3 weeks before I was scheduled to actually do the procedure and then we moved away from Southern California when she was 8 months old. So still have not done the Lasik. I had great confidence that the likelyhood of a complication was practically nil with a Dr that worked such high profile people as movie stars & on a nationally syndicated show, but now my current optometrist referrs his patients to the UC Berkely Optomety school. Not so keen on having students do my eyes. Lol

Paulette said...

Love the peasant top. It's really cute with the apple green inset at the neckline and the coral cardigan.

I wish I had more motivation to sew for myself. It amazes me when people turn out such cute wardrobe items week after week. Do you follow Erica B's DIY Style ( or Debbie Cook at Stitches & Seams ( Two of many talented sewists who seem to have mastered what looks good on their own bodies.

regan said...

Well said! And a really smart looking outfit for little money! Yay! I, too, like What not to wear, if for nothing else, they have taught me to not leave the house in sweats anymore! Ha! Sweats are not for out-and-about.....they are for workouts only! lol

It's funny, I just finished reading a blog from a gal who just taught a youth group of girls to appreciate themselves, find their inner beauty, realize how special they are, not buy into the media's version of 'beautiful', etc. What a great idea to start teaching them early that it is not how perfect you look, it's what's inside that makes you beautiful, and how you treat others.

I'm feeling so uplifted! Thanks!

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

Have you looked through the pattern books @ JOAnns to see if they have a pattern for the peasant top you love? Maybe they have a pattern that you can score for 99 cents on sale? Love the outfit too. You are beautiful!

QuiltNut Creations said...

Such a fabulous post Elizabeth. Something we all need to hear.

Loving your shoes!!

Lisa said...

I love your outfits they look good on you and stylish. It all starts from within our selves something these show forget.

Angie said...

That is one thing I miss about working in an office. I used to 'dress' for work. Now I work at home so it's mostly sweats and socks. I even find myself getting slightly bothered when a customer wants to come over and that means I have to find makeup and a bra. ;)

Jennifer Lovell said...

You're wearing my favorite shoes again! You seem to do that a lot. But this time you happen to be wearing my favorite shirt in the whole world, too. I just managed to find a shirt of this exact same style at the thrift store for $3, and I thought it was the luckiest find, ever. I'm trying to figure out how to get more copies of mine, too! I wonder if we could work something out--if you figure out how to make more of them, I mean, if you figure out how you could make more of them for me in my size (without me ripping up the one that I have), could I pay you to do that? I seriously honestly was trying to figure this same dilemma out the other day! Isn't that a coincidence? Please let me know : )... Hugs!

Jennifer Lovell said...

I just wanted to add that Angie's comment made me laugh : ).