Tuesday, March 18, 2008

in defense of the schlumpadinka

a lot of shows are hell-bent these days on helping women with less than fashion-forward wardrobes break out of some diagnosed rut they've dug themselves. now i'm as voyeuristic as the next makeover show addict, and i settle in for what not to wear and ten years younger from time to time myself, but mostly to soak up the snark that spews forth from the hosts.

if you've never checked these types of programs out, they go like this: first, view secret footage of the guest dropping kids off at school, eating lunch with a buddy, or correcting her student's homework at her desk. snicker loads. present guest with various outfits to try to wear on for certain specific occasions. guest appears dubious, and the hosts roll their eyes at how hopeless their charge is.

i think the producers must know we viewers want the mean girls redux because even when the guest is all, "okay! that's so cute! i love it!" they hosts still find a way to be cutting about the guest's mom-jeans or wardrobe comprised entirely of cotton jersey. oprah has even coined a name for these victims of sartorial scrutiny: the schlumpadinka.

yes, i will absolutely agree that the high-rise, peg-leg, acid washed jeans need to go, and the old stained t-shirts need to find their way to the thrift store and into the loving arms of some spindly indie rocker. i also totally agree that if you're traveling to another country, you just can't go around wearing workout clothes and gym shoes and complain how rude the [insert european of your choice here] are. what i don't agree with is the lack of attention to the guest's lifestyle.

a common theme is to take a stay-at-home mom of small children and secretly decide everything she should wear should be dry clean only. cruel! i mean, if i'm getting ready for a day of laundry, changing diapers, and grocery shopping, i sure as hell won't be, "let go of mama's linen pantleg for one second, otto. mama needs to make her shirt placket a little crisper with this searing hot iron." what about just, oh, up-to-date jeans, a slightly fitted cotton knit top, and some kind of casual non-athletic shoe? worst of all, they always put this manipulative twist on the show by insisting that the mother needs to stop doing so much for everyone else and start taking care of herself. i am pretty sure that, if i had more time in my life, it would not be spent spit-shining emerald green patent slingback pumps to wear to the jewel.

and the schlumpadinka spinsters aren't spared either! there was some other twentyish woman who had a less than corporate career, like she was a teacher or an exercise instructor or something who didn't need business casual clothing, and she liked to go out with friends for lunch in some other standard schlumpadinka attire. they put her in... a shirtdress and heels! guffaw! if i went out to breakfast with friends wearing that, they'd be like, "what the hell's happening here? are we being punk'd?"

so what do i say? i say rise up, fellow schlumpadinkas! embrace your casual chic! makeup, be damned! the ponytail lives forever!

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