Perhaps you've heard of "What Not To Wear". It's the show on TLC where poor unsuspecting people with hideous fashion sense or style are pounced on by two fashionistas and forced to reform (well, bribed, really, with a trip to New York and a credit card worth $5000 to buy a new wardrobe). I'm a bit of a fan of the show. I have to warn you, Fort McMurray - I've been considering giving Stacy and Clinton a call. Why? Because frankly, we need help.
I'm not a stylist or a clothing designer. I don't own a retail clothing store or work in one, either. I do have an opinion on a few things, though, and I'm going to share it. You don't have to agree but there is a reason I feel this way, so just hear me out. I considered going around the city taking photos but I don't think I need to. If you live here you know exactly what I'm talking about, and you don't need pictures to remind you. My greatest fear is that photos of people here are going to start showing up on People of Walmart, and I don't think any of us want that, do we?
First off, pyjama pants in public. Don't get me wrong, I love pyjama pants. At home. In bed. While having my morning coffee. I don't love them at the grocery store, the doctor's office, the bank, or anywhere else where you find other people who don't happen to live with you. Unless you are in elementary school and it's pyjama day why on earth would you wear your pyjama pants in public? And seriously, it doesn't matter how cute or stylish they are - you aren't fooling anyone. They're still pyjama pants and all it says is that you're too lazy to put on real pants to face the world. So, put on a damn pair of pants already, and preferably clean ones. That simple step makes you look one hundred percent better.
Second, torn-up, raggedy sweats. I'm not really a huge fan of sweat pants regardless, seeing as how they are shapeless and often pretty sad looking. But if you're gonna wear them how about wearing some that don't show your underwear, or, even worse, that you aren't wearing any underwear? Know what I don't want to see at the Safeway? Your butt showing through your ripped up sweat pants, that's what.
Third, clothing that is dirty, smelly, or torn (and not in a fashionable sense, just shredded). Okay, I get it. You just got off work and need to pick up milk on the way home. That's cool. Putting on those same clothing items the next morning to go out for breakfast, though? Not cool. Surely you own something clean, or at least not looking (and smelling) like it's something not even the homeless would wear.
I know this rant might sound condescending, but it's not. The issue I have with the above fashion faux pas is that they make it look like people in this city have just given up. You wander around downtown some days and wonder if everyone in this place is deeply depressed, because it's often the deeply depressed who just give up on how they look or present themselves to the public. You go to other cities and see homeless people collecting change who are better dressed and seem to have more pride in their appearance than some of the regular folk here. And c'mon - we all know you can afford clothing that is, at the very least, clean.
When those news crews come to our city to do stories on how horrible Fort Mac is how do you think they form their impressions of us? Do you think they don't notice the people who look like they just stepped out of some post-apocalyptic nightmare? The thing is that when people dress well they also tend to carry themselves well and with some pride in their demeanour. When they dress in clothing that is dirty and smelly and ripped they often slouch along looking ashamed that they even have the audacity to exist.
Let's take some pride in ourselves, people, and by osmosis give some of that pride to our city. When you leave the house consider dressing well because frankly it will make you feel good, too. It may well change how you interact with other people and how they treat you. You will make the entire city look more presentable and give those camera crews less fodder for their "evil Fort McMurray" stories. Leave the pyjama pants, shredded sweats, and smelly overalls at home. Don't make me call Stacy and Clinton on you.