I recently got sucked into a Netflix obsession. Admit it–you’ve either done it or been tempted. Streaming TV is my nemesis, and my great love.
It’s been probably seven or eight years since I’d seen it, but I started watching old seasons of What Not to Wear. You know, the makeover show on the TLC channel where two “fashion experts,” at the behest of the victim’s family and friends, stage a fashion intervention on an unsuspecting woman with low self esteem. It’s brutal. But sometimes it’s beautiful, the way the women react and then claim that this new style that’s been foisted on them has made them suddenly start respecting themselves. The women they attack often wear revealing clothing, and I love seeing how the new fashion rules they’re taught say that the woman should cover up to be attractive, not reveal too much. That part is refreshing.
The show is like crack. Ugh. I make myself ride the exercycle while I watch–that’s my punishment.
Someone else might not find it addictive, or even mildly entertaining. However, maybe because I love stories with really strong character arcs I’m just drawn to this bloodfest. Seeing people go from frump to fantastic in 42 minutes is just powerful stuff. The hosts are magically able, in almost every episode, to get to the bottom of the woman’s self-doubt and to her greatest fear. They pounce on it, repeat it over and over again, and then they insist that all her issues can be solved with the right pantsuit and a nice purse.
We know that’s false information. However, there’s something so tantalizing about that concept–that there’s a solution to what hurts so much inside us, and that it can be solved.
As an author, it’s a great chance to invent (or discover) fictional characters and either decide or find out what makes them tick. We dig deep into their psyches and discover that deepest fear. Then we POUNCE on it, gouge at it, make the characters just cry. Then we put them in situations where they meet the right foes or friends and where can solve their problem and discover their inner strength and become who they were always meant to be.
It’s tempting to think that all of life’s problems can be solved with fashion. They can’t. Sure, it’s good to take care of ourselves. To treat ourselves with respect and gentleness. And that can be the start of a beautiful friendship–kindness to ourselves. However, even beautiful, well-dressed people have struggles. Even wealthy, famous people have a “human experience.” No one can escape it. (Maybe that’s why it’s fun to read novels about beautiful, wealthy people who also struggle, even like the rest of us frumpy, financially-struggling folks. We relate.)
I still like writing about makeovers. And I’ll probably ride 42 minutes daily on that exercycle to get to watch that danged show. However, the most important makeovers we can undergo are the ones where we change our hearts, our minds, our attitudes. Where we surrender ourselves to truth and to divinity and become inside who we are meant to be.
I think that was the point of THE LOST ART, my most recent book. (I never discover the theme of the book myself until long after I’ve written it. Sometimes not until someone else points it out to me.)