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What Not to Wear
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this show's core positive message (anyone can look great) can help mitigate the pressure to look like an airbrushed supermodel that young girls face daily. But during most of each episode, the subject experiences sarcasm and mild ridicule. The fashion experts can sound a bit mean sometimes when doling out fashion critiques, though they're also good at building up subjects' confidence by the end.
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What's the story?
WHAT NOT TO WEAR has a simple, ultimately admirable message: No matter your shape, your size, or whatever physical liabilities or hang-ups you have, you can be beautiful. For dramatic effect, the show starts with an ambush. Friends and family of someone in need of fashion advice nominate her (or sometimes him) for a makeover. The subject is secretly filmed until -- surprise! -- fashion experts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly show up and announce they're giving her a $5,000 wardrobe and the benefit of their advice. In New York, the subject learns that said advice is wisecracking and mild ridicule, and a set of fashion rules. She's sent shopping and makes mistakes, prompting wisecracks from Stacy and Clinton, who eventually arrive on the scene to help her choose flattering clothes. After expert hairstyling by Nick Arrojo and a grooming and makeup lesson from Carmindy, the subject looks fantastic -- without plastic surgery, weight loss, or anything at all drastic.
Is it any good?
The beauty of What Not to Wear is that even though the subject is initially mocked, she learns that she doesn't have to change any part of her core self in order to pep up her image. And when the subject shows off her changed image to Stacy, Clinton, and her friends and family, she's as delighted as everyone else at her transformation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the nature of beauty and whether we all need to look like models. What assets do the people who appear on this show have -- including their talents, personalities, and apparent character? Is that attractive? How do they react to change?
How do you think these people's "new looks" will affect their futures? Does it matter? Should it matter? What kinds of messages do makeover shows send in general? And why do you think most of the subjects are women? Do men have less pressure to change their public image?