I just love TLC’s “What Not to Wear” with Clinton and Stacey. Although the original British version and the early days of the US incarnation were more superficial and fashion-focused, gradually this TV show has evolved from “How could she wear that!” to more of a self-respect intervention.
While there are still “Omigosh, what is she thinking?” moments and advice on how to look one’s best, Clinton and Stacey seem to be trying to get women to realize how much better they can feel about themselves, not just how much more fashionable they can look, when they dress themselves appropriately and respectfully.
Self-respect is an important issue. One’s self is made up of more than the physical. Each of us is a complex creature with mental, emotional, spiritual and physical components. These components are intricately intertwined… touch one and they all resonate.
“Respect” is both a verb and a noun. One of its synonyms that also serves dual duty is “honor”. Think about honoring the various facets of self. When we honor someone or something we are valuing it for what it is, not bemoaning what it is not. Self-respect is like that.
The “What Not to Wear” show’s goal, as I see it, is to get women to show respect for their physical selves by honoring their bodies just as they are.
American women are notoriously self-critical. If we have extra pounds, we tend to wait until we lose them before making that extra effort to look better. We would rather attempt to hide in over-sized, uninteresting garments in the hope that no one will notice our bodies. We try to make our physical selves disappear. Doing that tends to diminish the spirit, depress the emotions and encourage negative thoughts, as well.
If a woman can honor her body as it is, she will care for it less grudgingly… from how she clothes it to how she nourishes and exercises it. Her spirits lift and she begins to think about her self differently…more respectfully.
Self-respect encourages respect for others, as well. I think this is the root of the misguided “self-esteem” emphasis in our schools in the past decade. Self-esteem comes from accomplishment (not empty praise) while self-respect comes from accepting and honoring ones whole self.
“Love your neighbor as you love yourself” has limitless interpretations. One might be “You will be able to accept, honor and respect the people you meet as you learn to accept, honor and respect yourself.”
There are lots of choices of what to wear or not to wear every day, but the one garment we should always slip into first is self-respect.