What Not to Wear, Not

1 Dec

Letterbalm MannequinsDear LetterBalm: This is a weird situation, and I can’t get beyond it. My fiancé and a bunch of friends thought it would be a good idea if they staged a fashion/makeover intervention for me, like “What Not to Wear.” Recently, they secretly videoed me leaving for work and hanging out and my girlfriends sat me down to tell me what was wrong with the way I looked.  I asked them to stop, but they didn’t. Several of them took me shopping (on my credit card) and to a makeup consultant and hair stylist. They thought the humor and mocking were hilarious. I felt angry and humiliated, and I don’t like most of the clothes they picked out and the haircut I got. I smiled through it because I didn’t want to make a scene. It would have been one thing if a friend or two volunteered to go shopping together, but I felt ambushed and ganged up on. I run a good business in crime-scene and environmental clean-up, so I can’t dress up or wear makeup for work because my team and I are usually in hazmat gear. I have a fashion wardrobe for my social life and dates, and I do wear makeup then. How can I tell them that what they did was hurtful to me?

–Fashion Victim

How many other women found What Not To Wear just a wee bit annoying and intrusive? True, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly expertly empowered their makeover candidates, and most of them looked mercifully better in a $5,000 wardrobe and makeover than when they started. But, gosh, everything – every bump and bulge, every edgy comment, every tossed-out old wardrobe – played out in public on TV. The price of a new look was to demean the old one, thoroughly and openly. Ms. L.B. advises you to tread softly and consider your options. Do you really regret all their fashion/makeup choices? You want to let your fiancé and friends know just how you feel, but you also want to acknowledge their concern for your welfare. Their hearts may have been in the right place, but their methods were heavy-handed. Have two conversations, one with the ringleader (who will pass your thoughts to the rest), the other with your fiancé. Go easier on him if he wasn’t the instigator – after all, he does consider you desirable enough to marry. Try these, and don’t be deterred if you’re accused of being defensive or overly sensitive:

Tracy, I want to talk with you about the fashion intervention you and the group staged for me. I know you meant well, and some of your fashion suggestions were O.K. But all of you went about it in a way that hurt and embarrassed me. I would have appreciated it if one or two of you talked with me privately about my wardrobe and look – hey, we all can use improvement. But you ambushed me, mocked me publicly and posted stuff on Facebook. Please don’t tell me that I’m overreacting or being too sensitive because this is my life and you kept on doing it even after I asked you to stop. I’ve cried about this – it’s a big deal. Can you see why?

Sweetheart, about the fashion intervention the girls did, I have problems with it. I know you and they meant well, but to go about it in such a public way ambushed me and hurt me a lot. It made me think you don’t like the way I look and don’t think I’m pretty. You know I need to dress down for my work, but I’d like to think I look good when we go out with friends or by ourselves. I love you, and I know you would never hurt me on purpose, and, sure, some of the clothes I got are nice. But can you tell me how you feel about all this?

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