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Journal

Words do this to us. They feed us even before we see. They build expectations. They are things too. And they lead us to see other things in a certain way. Words activated like and paired with the visual are the message.

Dressing Your Truth vs. —

Andrea Chesney

So I have learned about this thing called Dress Your Truth.

Disclaimer: The video I was shown slapped me in the face so hard, I am not sure I fully understand the explanation given for the idea. But it seems to say that women fall into one of four categories of beauty. Types 1-4. As a female woman, you need to wear the right clothing for your Type, your Type of natural beauty. In the right style and colors assigned to your Type, you would feel truly comfortable, happy, experience well being and feel at peace with your life and inner self. You might sparkle.

Okay. I can get on that, though we agree here at WTAT there are more than four kinds of lady girls out there. 

But the thing that made my face hurt is that this theory is supposed to be “proven” to us via the antics of a woman whose garment choices for her victim were like a horrible sort of set up, along the lines of:  which wine is best: these three glasses of stranger pee, or this 2009 Pinot Noir from France? 

Her victim – nice woman, and a willing participant, but wearing a pained expression – got to tell her tale of self (happy mom looking for more in life and to understand herself better). The Expert you will all recognize as the overly eager Mall Saleswoman who tries to make you buy the ugly stuff even when it doesn’t fit, her leopard top from Limited Depress clashing with her short hombre hairdo from the Ten Buck Kut Hut (as if I want her advice?). The Expert nods a lot in sympathy, before body slamming Happy Mom into four insane looks: Pastel Incontinent Grandma Garlic at Cracker Barrel; Clerical-Assistant-in-Accounting Whore Who Is Banging Your Husband, I Can’t Even Get My Ass Into This Dress Which Is The Color of Sadness From Hell’s Sale Rack, and once more, the simple sort of obvious but unterrifying outfit she apparently came in.

The video is going to show us why the wrong clothes make us freak out. This is known as Dressing Your Truth. 

Happy Mom’s hair is twerped for the four “looks” they make her wear, using bacon grease and a clip they found on the floor in a highway McDonald’s bathroom. For two looks, they keep it fluffed out like line dance night at a train convention. The beauty stylist clearly labored for thirty-eight seconds before leaving for her meth lab appointment.

As she comes out in each ensemble, Happy Mom looks pained, like, kidney stone level. Not for one moment do we think she likes this stuff. Her lips are compressed, her breathing rate is accelerated and she details what doesn’t work for her. OF COURSE IT DOESN’T WORK FOR HER. I have seen better outfits in line at the post office on Tuesdays.

She knows she looks like a elderly lady who keeps many cats, or a slutbag in a too-small top, or someone who was locked in a C-level Penney’s over Labor Day Weekend. Her best look is the one she chose herself. This last outfit looks sort of soft and motherly, like a kind and friendly English teacher who is meeting her husband for Applebee's later. But by the end of this sad awkward fashion show, it looks like Dior to my abused eyes.

We at Words They Are Things are angry about this. We could throw a plastic handbag into any mall and take her into whatever store the handbag hit, and dress Happy Mom up 100 times better than this expert did, and make her realize she is great and probably capable of exploring at least two more styles. She is not a Type. She is a woman, an individual. Confining her whole outlook into a random made-up type is offensive on every level. Do not use the word Type around humans with emotions when it comes to the creativity of fashion and self-expression, please. Our clients and favorite brands aren't working hard creating gorgeous clothing only to have women told they are just one thing forever, without facts, and growth.

We could make Happy Mom look wonderful twenty ways. But the Expert isn’t going to do that; she is apparently just hawking her books to anyone still watching?? I am sorry for Happy Mom, because I suspect she has a husband who needs a little kick in the behind sometimes, and three kids who are cute but really messy and loud. She maybe just wanted to think about being herself, the woman she is inside, the girl she was, the person she is, the dreams she had, and the way she can be a nice part of the world she lives in or wants to explore. Perhaps she also wanted to see: is there more out there for me? And the answer to that didn’t happen here.

So where was this YOUR TRUTH, thing, Expert? When you SAY “Dressing Your Truth” there are critical words in there. YOUR and TRUTH. You took Happy Mom's size and slapped her into whatever you were going to slap her into, to make a point to support your made-up theory. You played with a human's self-image to do that.

We looked at her for seven seconds and would never have stuffed that quiet gentle “Type 2" woman into what you pulled out; even in other categories there was room for taste and an understanding that every woman may express herself in different ways at different times. What was truthful about this experience? Be careful how you use that word. The other three types were essentially from the same spread of an old Sears book. A look at any magazine or color wheel would have produced a more thoughtful collection – it’s not TRUTH when it is by default to force categorization. The TRUTH is you probably had an idea but aren’t showing much effort to get the TRUTH out there to a real woman. Or was it your truth alone?

Advice people: if you don't really care, go shill books and theories someplace that's not around real women, please. And stop brushing off the possibilities that hard-working clothing designers create for us. Do your homework. Step away from your marketing deck and look at the women around you. Look at how we live today. We don't live in categories anymore. We don't live just one life anymore. Ask E. Jean. She knows stuff you should know, and she cares.

Beauty is another word to understand. And it is not a category. It is an experience anyone can have, and that fashion and style (two separate concepts) can provide.

Someone tries to categorize you, you call us. We'll take you shopping.