A couple of episodes into season two of Project Runway I decided my life would be much better if I scorned my own sub-par biological father and declared that my new father was Tim Gunn. Imagine! Tim Gunn as your dad! He’d be loving and supportive of your creative endeavors while gently guiding you back into the flock if you happen to wander astray by staying out past your curfew, picking up a drug habit, or making yet another bubble skirt.
And so it was with great glee that I read that Bravo is playing the Jenny Jones to Papa Gunn and my currently distant relationship by enabling a beautiful father-daughter reunion before the November 14th premier of season four of Project Runway in the form of Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style.
The show is a little fluffy, but generally enjoyable. I am dying at the look on Tim Gunn’s face as he observes Veronica Webb paw through guest Rebecca’s underwear drawer, though. Oh and also his “purely visceral” reaction to Veronica’s leggings suggestion.* However, I’m not entirely sure that putting women in garbage bags is actually a good way to build self esteem. Also, instead of Carl Kassel, I think I’d rather have Catherine Malandrino‘s voice on my home answering machine. No offense Carl.
But wow. The guest, Rebecca, is beautiful and totally Hoboken, NJ awesome. And thin by anybody’s definition. Yet one of her biggest gripes is her big hips. Tim repeatedly tells her she looks great, but then he also helps her pick out empire waisted silhouettes to hide her body. At one point she refers to herself as being properly classified as one of the “girls who are heavier on the bottom.” As if we needed any more proof, this just demonstrates how pervasive and insidious and harmful and deeply internalized the messages that our bodies are imperfect, wrong, bad, unacceptable, no matter how closely they match the societal ideal. Even when you’re right there, it’s still not perfect enough.
Next week’s guest, according to the teaser, is a fat woman who has lost a considerable amount of weight over the last two years and doesn’t know how to dress her new body. Now, I don’t know how to dress my new body, either. (I didn’t know how to dress my old body, for that matter, but that’s neither here nor there.) But my new body, which is really my actual body, isn’t a new thin body. It’s my very own fat body that I am learning how to really love, and how cool would it be for my own adopted father to teach me how to make it work? Alas, I don’t think prime-time fashion television is ready for that particular jelly.
* I quite like wearing leggings. I am confident that Papa Gunn would, Christ-like, forgive me for that sin.