Welcome to blog #12. It really is Friday January 22, 2010, so the date stamp and I seem to be back on friendly terms, at least for now. Not an awful lot to report although I have learned a new skill which I'll tell you about in an upcoming post + I'm sticking to the challenge. Still using the tried and tested method of Avoidance - but hey, it's working so I'll keep at it for a while. I do feel the true test for me on the challenge will be some unknown future point when I am standing in front of an item of clothing that I have fallen instantly in love with, that's my size, looks sensational on me, is something I'll wear a lot, and it's is 99% off. Keeping out of the shops (including the online ones) is working for me at the moment. It's not interrupting my life either -- I'm not walking an extra 10 blocks to avoid a particular shop, although I am averting my eyes just a little if I go past a shoe shop that usually draws me in (you know who you are - Zaras on the Esplanade in Mooloolaba).
This is "Reality"? You're kidding! In the meantime, in an attempt to keep my blogging average up, let me tell you about a show I stumbled across on Lifestyle YOU channel called Shopping is My Life. Reality television is reaching new levels of absurdity and I was all set to resist this show as being a load of rubbish. I'm not sure if the mission of the show is to transform the life of the person being spotlighted - shaming them certainly appears to be... Maybe the producers think that through intense public (and international, as the show is British and aired throughout the world) shaming, the person's life will be reformed.
Addicted you say? The premise of the show is that the guest/profiled one is addicted to shopping. After being introduced to the person ("Sally is an IT consultant who lives in Surrey and commutes into The City....she spends 12 hours a week on shopping....") the person is then invited to visit a "shop" where all their clothing purchases for the last 12 months are laid out on the Conveyor Belt of Shame. This is what it's called, I kid you not. The Conveyor Belt of Shame. In this case, Sally had purchased something like 27 dresses (mathematics is clearly a skill somewhere on the show because this fact is then translated suchlike: that's nearly 2 dresses per month!), over 100 pieces of costume jewellery, 40 pairs of shows, over 80 belts, ..... and so on goes the litany of items, all trundling along on the Conveyor Belt of Shame. Sometimes there's an absurd item like a pink parlour maid's outfit.
All this is going on whilst Sally is watching with the two hosts, Faye (a stylist) and Nick (a self help expert) who are commenting on the items, in the shop's window for passers by to see. Sally usually starts off strong (perhaps she feels good about her purchases? or happy that she owns them?) but by the end of the Conveyor Belt of Shame, her hands are usually covering her mouth and she's "O My God"ing like a teenager in the mall.
The purpose of this exercise is best explained by the name they give to the conveyor belt, right?
Little boxes, made of ticky tacky. Next thing that happens is the content's of the person's entire wardrobe are packed into large clear plastic boxes and labelled - tops, pants, jeans, jackets, belts, shoes, handbags, jewellery, perfume, and so on. Their cupboard becomes Mrs Hubbards and is literally bare. These packed boxes are then stacked in the person's lounge room. They are brought in and there's more hands over mouth, "oh my God"ing going on, but in some cases this is partly out of outrage than shame. After the person has stopped hyperventilating from seeing their entire wardrobe packed up like that, they are given 10 minutes (and Faye's "help") to pack for 10 days into a small suitcase - the kind you carry onto a domestic flight (not even an international one). This usually results in blind panic and recriminations and assertions that "this is ridiculous!". One guest even attacked the bag - "but it's ugly". No exceptions to the rules - if it aint in the small red bag, they don't get to wear it during the next 10 days. Then the killer blow comes in -- they are not allowed to go shopping for those 10 days either. Unbelieeevable. (don't the contestant's ever watch the show? Even I know what the challenge is and I'm just a viewer!). Tamper proof tape then seals the boxes and they are allowed to unpack their teensy winsy (and ugly, if that one person is to be believed) suitcase back into their now ravaged closet.
Ten Long Days. Then the meaty, sticky, crackly, cranky, gritty part of the show commences. The ten days of the challenge. During this time, Nick spends time with the person and tries to draw out of them why they are 'addicted' to shopping; this usually involves handling old family photographs and a trip to visit one or both of their parents. He tries to elicit from them what they would actually like to do with their lives - you know, if they could live it instead of spend it. I wasn't sure I'd find Nick all that appealing, but I confess to experiencing unexpected respect for his methods and his tenacity - he's a bit of a terrier (maybe a Jack Russell) and doesn't let go. Sooner or later he finds something they maaaaybe want to do and then he makes them pursue it. This could be either going to the local amateur dramatics society or writing a children's story.
They also get to spend time with Faye who tries to teach them something about shopping properly. Considering the guests could shop for England, this is no small task and I often wonder if the guest doesn't find Faye a little ineffectual. She did one blindfolded exercises with a guest who had to guess which dress was the most expensive by the cut, feel and shape of it. The guest got it - but then again, she had purchased over 20 dresses in the last 12 months so could be that she could indeed shop blindfolded. Poor Faye. She doesn't get the big A-Ha's that Nick seems to. And she doesn't even get to see the old family photos either!
Follow up, anyone? You know, I'd love to see follow ups to these shows, and other reality shows, especially the makeover ones (I mean, it's one thing to look gorgeous after a day spent with a hairdresser, makeup artist, stylist, dermatologist and cosmetic dentist -- it's quite another to duplicate that result all on your own and on a daily basis). We never get to see how effective the show is in changing the lives of the guests on it. Maybe the shopaholics are not cured. Maybe they fall off the bandwagon. Maybe they leave their lives and go run a cattle station in the outback and never look at a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes ever again. Who knows what happens to them? We don't. Now, that would make for a really good show - seeing the long term impact (if one exists) on the lives of the people who go on the show. Whether it's better, worse, no different as a result of being publicly shamed and self-helped by Nick. I'd watch that show. Right?