Who Do You Say That You Are?

Hi, my name is Jackie. (Hi Jackie) I’m addicted to “What Not To Wear.” I do not remember when I first started watching the show, but it is my go to when there’s nothing else on. And I record it. I don’t record all the episodes and keep them forever, but I watch each and every one of them.

When I first started watching the show, I was appalled that people could spend $5,000 on clothes. I was perplexed that people could spend an entire week focusing on fashion. I think secretly I was jealous that people could spend an entire week on themselves.

As I have continued to watch the show, I became much more enamored of it and I now appreciate the struggle so many of the women have gone through. They recently aired an episode where Dolly, the person getting the make-over, openly stated that she had been sexually abused as a child. Dolly talked about learning to hide and not wanting to spend time on herself because then people would notice her.

The women on the show are pediatricians, Episcopal priests, moms, lawyers, bookkeepers, personal trainers, airline attendants, musicians, artists, real estate agents, business owners, and have just about any possible career you can think of. Some of them are too over the top and want to be seen. Others, like Dolly, prefer not to be seen and do everything they can to avoid attention.

Many of them are not survivors of sexual abuse. But many are. They have survived domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse, poverty, cancer, heart attacks, loss of children, children with disabilities, the loss of a spouse, love gone wrong, and love betrayed. And they get nominated for a show which tries to lift them up. How could that be bad?

Even though I think I watch the show too much, what Stacy and Clinton are trying to do for women, I cannot help but applaud. I love how the women walk confidently out on the stage after their transformation. They have gotten new clothes, new hair styles, and a fresh approach to make up, but as they often stress on the show, those aren’t the things that make the biggest impact on the person’s life. They stand taller and walk with pride. No longer are their heads hanging down, hoping to avoid everyone’s gaze, or wearing short, skimpy skirts to get everyone’s attention.

I think the part that I always like the most is that the women got to spend time getting to know themselves. They get to know what they like, what colors look good on them, how to choose things that fit. And they get two well-paid people to help them figure out if it looks good or not. That is a luxury that many women do not have or never take the time to discover. “What is it that I truly like?”

The episode I watched today was the story of Liz, a clinical psychologist and mother of twins. For anyone, those are some great accomplishments. Liz talked about always being someone’s daughter, mother, sister, wife, and never feeling like she had an identity of her own.

When I am introduced to someone new, it is always intriguing how they speak about themselves. Do they define their lives by their business? By whose daughter or son they are? By their children? I also wonder how I will respond. I try to say that I am a writer. Sometimes that is better received than others. Then there’s the inevitable question of, “what do you write?” “I write a blog for survivors of sexual abuse.” That is usually followed by a period of silence. I am ok with the silence; the person I am speaking to is not always ok with it, though. But that is their stuff and not mine. This is what I do and I’ve come much too far to be silent.

So my question to you, is what do you do to take care of yourself and get to know yourself? And who do you tell people that you are? And if you don’t know yet, what can you do to figure it out?

Who Are You?

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