If you’ve talked to me lately, I have probably bored you silly on the subject of my closet intervention, which was engineered by a very good friend. (Wow, look at the male regulars here heading for the exits. Amazing. Trust me. We are leading up to a memory. Two, in fact!) Like most women I know, I secretly wanted a makeover that would somehow involve no criticism of the self being made over. And definitely no public shaming via television show. I want Cliff and Stacey to tell me not what to wear, without having to take part in WHAT NOT TO WEAR.
At any rate, I f’loved it, including the discussion on why I feel it’s necessary to have loose travel dresses/tunics that can endure vomit. But the thing I found fascinating is that it is a deeply shaming experience even without television cameras to capture it. Why? Because it involves waste. There were clothes in my closet that still had the tags on them — and I keep a relatively lean closet. Of course, they had the tags on them because I had no desire to wear them. (An aside: I’m not one to hold onto clothes that don’t fit.) Yet I had somehow convinced myself that unworn clothes in the closet, like unwanted food forced down in hopes of joining the Clean Plate Club, were not wasted.
One thing jumped out: my shoe collection, which Facebook followers have been given glimpses of over the years, was in pretty good shape. Why was I so clear about what to put on my feet, but not what to put on my body?
Because I have no problem with my size 9.5, sometimes 10 feet. But for thirty-five years now, I’ve been waiting to morph into “Charlie,” as embodied by Shelley Hack, with Bobby Short singing my theme song as I stride down the street. Kinda cool, kinda now. Kinda young, kinda wow.* I wanted, in short — in Short — to be 5-foot-10 and 115 pounds.
Hey, I’m really close in one of those categories.
The ideal of female beauty in my youth was tall and thin. Really thin. Doing cocaine at Studio 54 thin. I remember when a college friend described to me earnestly how Cheryl Tiegs used to weigh some ungodly, horrible weight and had dieted her way back to supermodel stardom.
Cheryl Tiegs’s ungodly horrible weight was mine at the time. Thirty-something years later, I actually weigh a little less, but not much, although I am far leaner.
I’m not writing a body acceptance PSA here. (No, seriously — the guys can come back!) Things have gotten better and worse in some ways. More acceptance of different figures, but also this horrible plastic surgery aesthetic, the so-called Tits on a Stick. Yet there she is in my imagination, striding down the street, taunting me. I was sophisticated enough at fourteen to know that the perfume wouldn’t make me Charlie. But I looked for a long time for something that would.
The other memory that popped up was one of my favorite makeover scenes of all time, in VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. (Only the book, not the movie.) Neely O’Hara has a new vocal coach who wants her to burn her entire wardrobe, including a purple coat with a fox collar. She is allowed two dresses, solid wools, which cost $150* apiece. Spreading a napkin on her lap, she tells her boyfriend: One spill and half my wardrobe is out of commission.
Anyone else here ever had a makeover of any sort (wardrobe, library, home)? Or an affection for Jacqueline Susann?
*From memory, so suspect
**I’ll look this up in an inflation calculator, but it must have been a lot of money in 1948.