Fashion segments have been the mainstay of daytime television since time in memoriam. From the days of Pebblemill (christ I’m old) to TV:AM and shows such as This Morning and Lorraine.
Back in the 80s and 90s, although not day time, the Clothes Show for me, was essential Sunday night viewing, with Jeff Banks and Caryn Franklin at the helm, it steered viewers through the latest trends, catwalk shows and high street happenings. But what happened to empowerment through fashion? When did it become a shitshow of shame?
Show of Shame
Now this may be me wearing decidedly rose tinted glasses, but not once do I remember the Clothes Show tackling subjects like dressing for your size/shape, what to wear or how to wear it. For me it always seemed like it was about the fashion, creating outfits, wearable trends. None of this likening bodies to fruit bullshit.
From memory, my very first taste of shame dressing as I’m now going to call it was gobby posh birds, Trinny and Susannah on ‘What not to Wear’ – I mean straight away, the name of the show tells you everything you need to know. Here are two women who have made a career from making other women feel like shit. Trading on women’s insecurities and perceived flaws. They fine tuned the art of covering up, hiding and disguising and quite possibly made Spanx a multi-billion dollar company with their impassioned love of shape-wear. It was the emergence of these upper-middle class, has-been school bullies that paved the way for what became the future of fashion shows. A torrent of shame-mongering, faux-friend stylists.
Friend or ‘Faux’?
It had become apparent that Trinny and Susannah’s breed of ‘tough love’ (ahem) was too much for some; on the hunt for a more friendly, kindly approach, Channel 4 stumbled upon, jolly old Gok – now for disclaimer purposes, I have met Gok several times and he is a genuinely lovely person, but he too, perpetuated this theme of so-called empowerment through trading on people’s insecurities. The notion that women can only feel good about themselves if they meet a certain set of beauty standards created by the media.
Not a show would go by where Mr Wan didn’t whack someone in some shape-wear and add an unnecessary belt to an outfit to ‘create an hourglass’ figure. And although Gok’s catchphrase was “it’s all about the confidence” one does begin to wonder how anyone can be truly confident when they are made to fit into a box that’s so restrictive and mainstream. Surely confidence is found in self-exploration, discovery and playfulness. Fashion shouldn’t be about the crowds, it should be about what makes you feel good. This one-size/style fits all ethos belongs in the dark ages.
But you see, that’s the issue. Despite the huge movements in body positivity, plus size fashion and diversity as a whole, these types of fashion experts still exist and are broadcast to millions of women every day via shows such as Lorraine and This Morning. And arguably they are broadcasting to some of the most emotionally vulnerable and impressionable of women. Stay at home mums, mums to be, those on sick leave, the unemployed, tired shift workers, some of whom may have lost their way style-wise, maybe put on a little weight and the producers of these shows know this. They play to these women’s vulnerabilities. Instead of enabling women to explore fashion, try new trends and build themselves up, they continue to employ these outdated notions of shape-wear, covering up and ‘flattering’ your figure. I mean what does that even mean? I’m fat, I’ll always be fat. I just want to wear amazing clothes, clothes that make me smile, clothes that make me feel like the person I want to be, confident, fun, powerful.
Of course I am very mindful of the fact that not everyone feels like that yet, they’re not in that place or mindset, but surely, there is a better way to encourage women to feel great about themselves without banging them in some highwaisted spandex torture device and whacking a belt round their midriff?!
Shouldn’t we be holding women’s hands and saying “try something new, don’t be afraid to embrace different shapes, throw the rulebook out the window”. Just this morning on Lorraine, Mark Heyes (again someone I’ve met several times and is a sweetheart, BUT) was warding those with a stomach off the paperbag style waistline. What utter nonsense! I refuse to be dictated to on what I can and cannot wear because it might be less than ‘flattering’ to my figure.
Fashion for the many, not the few
Yes I’m getting all Jezza Corbyn on fashion ‘experts’ arses because I’ve truly had enough of this nonsense approach to clothing. Wear what makes you feel good, wear something that makes a statement, wear something that helps you blend into the background. However you want to feel, dress accordingly, because that’s what personal style is about. The power of a good outfit knows no bounds, it should uplift you, calm you, comfort you. It should be whatever you want it to be.