What I Learned From TV Land

Aside from all kinds of forensic science.

Sometimes, you can only take so much children’s television. Even Phineas and Ferb palls after repeated viewings.

At the same time, though, not much I would choose to watch is appropriate for my children.

Enter the DIY Network. This is completely appropriate to watch with your children (or, in my case, watch while your children play with Littlest Pet Shops). It’s educational, even, teaching Flora and Kate about the difference between cork flooring and laminate, for instance.

The downside to watching the DIY Network, for me, was realizing that basically my whole house looks a lot like many of the “before” rooms on the shows. Especially my upstairs bathroom and my kitchen. They need a lot — and I mean A LOT — of work. If my husband or I ever see Matt Muenster or Josh Temple (Bath Crashers and House Crashers hosts, respectively) in our local home improvement store, we will unabashedly tackle him and drag him home with us.

The good part is that I have realized that little things, incremental changes, can be quick fixes that aren’t too expensive. Dan and I watched a Sweat Equity clip about crown molding and a frame shelf that would look great in our front room. And Dan is handy enough that he could do it, given the time. Plus, I think Flora knows how to use power tools now.

Cooking shows are also a safe bet, but they do cook a lot of meat on those shows, and we don’t eat much of that around here.

One show that became a guilty pleasure (and I get to watch it On Demand, too) is TLC’s What Not to Wear. I was a little afraid to tune into this, because I thought Stacy London and Clinton Kelly would be too snarky. I am a firm believer that our society could use less snark and more constructive criticism. I couldn’t even tell you WHY I ended up watching this show for the first time. NCIS must not have been on.

Anyhoo, what I like about the show is the amount of constructive criticism that Stacy and Clinton provide. They really encourage the women on their show to find the clothes that let their inner beauty show on the outside. They emphasize sophistication, style, fit, and colors or patterns. It’s fun to see women rediscover their shapes, celebrating curves (or creating them), and finding clothes — well made, stylish clothes — that enhance what the women have. Some of the shows were heartrending (although they had good outcomes), with women confronting their esteem issues or body issues. I couldn’t believe how hard it was for some of these women to use the words “pretty” or “sexy” to describe themselves! I also really enjoyed watching some “tomboys” realize that fashion wasn’t a shallow wasteland of girlie girls. Some of them even bought dresses!

As fun as it was to watch people spend $5000 of someone else’s money on nice clothes, it is sobering to realize that I rock the “mom uniform” (capris, athletic shoes, t-shirt and hoodie) pretty hard, and no one is going to give me $5000 to change that. Otherwise, I think I dress pretty well, and I doubt I would be nominated for this show.

It is striking to me how many moms end up on the show. And they almost all say the same thing: they don’t shop for themselves, they don’t take care of themselves, they don’t think of themselves. This is why fashion and looking good often take a back seat to utility. But I understand it — we mothers don’t have TIME. We don’t have time to put ourselves first and buy nice, well-made clothes that fit us. We are running on the principal of “good enough” where good enough usually means it covers what it’s supposed to. It takes a lot of time to shop for clothes. I mean, hours. Clothes that fit, that mix and match, accessories that go with the clothes. In general, shopping for clothes is not something you want to do with your children in tow. Maybe this will change when the girls are older… although that is conjuring its own shudder-inducing images.

Do you shop with your kids? How do you shop for clothes? What’s your biggest fashion faux pas? Do you think anyone would ever nominate you for What Not to Wear? What’s your guilty viewing pleasure?