Friday, February 26, 2010

you are what you wear

This is a very delicate topic I'd like to talk about, and by delicate I mean that there is sooo much to talk about this.

I was watching an episode of What Not To Wear today on TV - because I have an essay to write about the show for my Popular Culture class. Me and my friend were watching it, and we couldn't help but watch the show in a very critical way and we ended up just talking about society structures.

What I am going to be talking in my essay is motly the idea that reality make-over shows like What Not To Wear show how now, that we are found in this post-modern era, the working class is erased into a middle class society; in other words, the working class has been given the opportunity of 'upward mobility', or moving up to the middle class. So this is basically how they work: the 'experts' find this working class men/women who are sooo into their work that they have no time to take care of themselves, and looking physically good for themselves, their families, their friends, or their workers. But that is about to change when these 'experts' who act like the great godmother from fairy tales or the angel of miracles appear to their lives. First, these experts examine the poor quality of their physique and critizise their poor and wrong choices of lifestyle. Then, the working citizen goes through an extensive and intensive transformation. After that, the moment of truth holds when they reveal themselves to their friends and family, and EVERYONE praises their changes and say how Much better they look compared to the old version of themselves. Finally, the contestant say a few words like "you have totally changed my life" or "now i have so much confident about myself" or "this is so much better".

Hmm...let me rewind a little bit. Before these candidates they must go through a phase of 'audition' where they or their families/friends explain WHY they must be on the show. And the worst cases are picked, in order to make a HUGE transformation (but at the same time it also has to be do-able). When the experts meet the contestant for the fist time, at least in this episode of What Not To Wear I watched today, they drown them with phrases like "you look like a geeky teenage boy stuck in their eighties like the New Kids On The Block", "you look like you're going to a funeral", and all these phrases that start with "you look like...". So they draw comparisons of their physiques with the most hiddeous images they can ever think of, humiliating them, dominishing them, putting them in shame, making fun of them, criticizing them. It is a kind of way to say 'sorry, looking like this, you will not be accepted in modern society". But it's okay, that's where the experts are here for, right?

Basically the solution to this big ugly problem is, well you guessed it, SHOP! You have an aweful wardrope. Shop. You have a poor collection of shoes. Shop. Your living room looks empty. Shop. Your face needs enhancement. Shop. You need to eat healthier food. Shop. Yeah, consumerism is the answer to all your problems! In What Not To Wear, contestants are given a credit card with $3000 to spend on clothes they would like to wear - considering their expert opinions on what they should be wearing. You see, in order to get where you want, you have to be the perfect consumer, spending lots of money on transforming yourself. Not just cheap accesory, they are usually the high class, label, fancy, expensive kind of accesories you can get similar anywhere else for a cheaper price.

To be brutally honest, I don't even like going shopping anymore. The clothes and stores I used to love, now they sell really poor quality stuff, and really, they are ALL the same in all stores! Take the example of what I call "gladiator shoes". seriously, why would anybody like those kind of shoes? They just look horrible! Yet, they sell those kind of shoes in all shoe store you can possibly find, from like $20 a pair to like $700 a pair. No, thanks. I will not pay a ridiculous amount of money for ugly looking shoes.

The clothes they sell now, are either extra thin you can see your skin pores, or the plaid shirts they really ran out of possible good looking color combinations so they just jumble all the colours in one. Don't forget that shirts are getting smaller and tighter. Jeans, they are made for one type of body. It is extremely hard for me to find clothings that I really like and at the same time they are of considerable pricing. Maybe it's just me, but the clothes they sell now are getting either more boring or more eccentric that I will not wear in a million years, not even if they paid me (well, maybe).

I looked into my closet, and said to myself a couple times "I need to change my wardrope. I need new clothes. Most of this I've had it for couple years." Yet, when I go shopping for clothes, I can hardly find anything that is my taste on clothes.

My worst case was when I went to Hong Kong this past summer. I was given the money to spend on clothes, and got the opportunity to go to explore malls and street stores. Let me give you an approximate figure: out of the 105 shops I walked by, I went into 15 of them, and bought a total of 1 dress. Seriously. There was just nothing I really liked, and clothes are the same everywhere! And that's where I came with my phrase that Hong Kong girls wear pijamas. Almost like 90% of the women wore the same thing: long white shirt with a random print (celebrity, Eiffel Tower, cat, etc), black leggins, loose vest, and boots. I felt tomboyish wearing jeans and vans.
Same clothing style, same hair style, they are pretty much products of cookie cutters. But that's just me and my opinion coming from a girl raised with western ideaologies going to Hong Kong for the first time since a baby, no offect intended.

It is indeed what you wear that matters. You are what you wear. By wearing a certain style, it is almost impossible not getting judged by other people, or getting tagged by other people. It's called branding, when a certain label carries a certain image. For example, if you wear American Eagle you are preppy. If you carry a Louis Vutton bag, uou must be rich. If you are a guy who wears Hollister, you must be gay. But really, these are all stupid stereotypes. I remember when I used to be "emo" or "punk", and I searched for photos of them and kind of assimilated that image of them: black clothes, belts with studs, bracelets, wristbands, fake piercings, black nail polish, etc. I considered myself "one of them". I came across various people, who were dressed like that, but they claimed "not be be emo and don't wanna be tagged as being 'emo'". But seriously, if you don't want to be judged or tagged for that, then why in hell would you dress like one? Individuality is not an excuse. Cookie cutters again.

But the worst is, when people try to be so fasionable. I remember this comic from The Excalibur (campus newspaper) of a 'typical' girl at York (given that York is considered as a fashionable university, where hallways are like catwalks). She is wearing a coat, a shirt, pants, shoes, bag, and they all come with like the Mastercard commercials ("TNA purse: $75 -I am making this up as I have no clue how much they cost but I remember them being expensive). And at the bottom it says: "Paying lots of money to look like everyone else: priceless" I almost cracked laughing when I read that because it is so true. And nothing annoys me more than those HUGE TNA bags or purses everybody carries. They are GINORMOUS!!! What do they carry in there? A corpse? Their whole house? And they annoy me when I am walking behind them and they poke my chest or my face.

It is getting late now, and I am getting kind of tired. So I will wrap up by saying that I need to change my wardrope to different kinds of clothes. Not because I want to, but because I am forced to. Fashion changes so fast. Next year, i will be throwing out my new clothes and exchange them for even uglier ones. Not able to find clothes that are my style and fitting to my budget is so sad it makes me wanna cry. I hope next fashion will be counteractive to this one and changes into something I would actually like, please.

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