CNN appearance tomorrow

The good news: I* will be appearing on CNN’s American Morning tomorrow (they tell me around 8 a.m. EST, though that’s subject to change at 8:24 EST, as long as nothing gets changed and nothing more newsworthy happens to bump us before tomorrow) to discuss the United thing.

*ETA: Because apparently SOMETHING ALWAYS HAS TO HAPPEN WITH THESE THINGS, we just got word from the producer that they only want one person. So this time, it’ll be me. Sigh.

The bad news [which seems like much less of an issue after the above edit]: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO WEAR.

I made an emergency trip to Vive la Femme yesterday, where owner Stephanie, Redskew designer Amanda, and an awesome employee whose name I missed (sorry!) were trying to serve a ridiculous crowd brought in by warm weather and a “Buy something, get something else for a buck” sale. Somehow, they did manage to help everyone and hold my hand while I tried to find something to wear on TV. Which is why having a local plus size boutique is still better than all the online options in the world. 

I may or may not have found something to wear there. Got a purple, empire-waist dress with a deep V neckline that requires a cami. Fortunately, I have a lighter purple cami that works with it and entirely covers my cleavage. Unfortunately, Al looked at me in that and said, “Do you really want everyone in America staring at your boobs?” Me: “But they’re totally covered!” Al: “Yeah, but… OMG BOOBS.” So I put on a much more demure, adorable purple-on-white plaid short-sleeved jacket from Vive’s “cheap and chic” collection, and go, “There. Boobs are hidden!” And Al makes a face and says, “Yeah, but… it’s just a little too State Fair hobo clown for me.” THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP, HONEY.

Anyway. Point of this post is not to whine about my wardrobe issues. The Vive trip was, strictly speaking, unnecessary, as I already own a lot of clothes that could work, and I have all day to try them on (and have Al tell me why they look terrible) — so I’ll figure something out by tomorrow. The point of this post is to whine about fashion advice — and not just the kind that comes from my darling husband. 

I have been looking around for tips on what to wear (or not wear) on TV since Friday afternoon, and here’s what I have learned:

  • Red is bad
  • Pink is bad
  • Black is bad
  • White is bad
  • Red is good
  • Black is good
  • Shiny is good
  • Matte is best — no shiny
  • Solid colors only
  • Solids are boring, and bold prints look great
  • Dark colors are best
  • Bright colors are best
  • Blue and green are good
  • Small prints are bad
  • Small prints are fine as long as there’s no blue or green in them
  • Too green a green is bad.
  • Keep accessories to a minimum
  • Keep your clothing conservative and jazz it up with funky accessories
  • Wear whatever you like and don’t stress about it!

By far the most helpful advice I got, from someone who’s made multiple TV appearances in the last couple of years, was, “Wear anything you want – TV is so high quality these days nothing looks bad.” That makes sense and actually helps me feel less stressed out, unlike well-meaning exhortations not to stress out that follow a load of do’s and don’ts. 

But I couldn’t let all that contradictory advice pass without comment. Where the hell do we pick up these “rules”? The majority of people offering these opinions have never been on TV — they just heard this stuff somewhere. Those who have been on TV have heard different things. The one consistent thing is that everyone agrees there are rules, and if you break them, you will look terrible, no one will take you seriously, and you will probably die in a freak accident on the way home from the studio because THE UNIVERSE DOES NOT APPROVE OF WHAT YOU WORE.

Possibly, I embellish. But still.

And OK, I just left the computer for hours, and now I’m back and totally unmotivated to finish this post. I was going to turn it into a long, thoughtful thing about how this just points up the ridiculousness of  fashion rules in general, specifically discussing all the “Here’s how to look smaller/more hourglassy” rules that are thrown at fatties all the time. But then, um, the day got away from me, and now I am just too tired and distracted to do that. So I will tell you to go read the Fatshionista archives instead, maybe starting with Lesley’s In Defense of Trapeze Dresses post. And discuss in comments, because I know you will say all the smart things I can’t quite get from by brain to the keyboard just now.

Also, I am probably going to wear green. Or purple. Or royal blue. Or turquoise. I have no fucking idea.

69 thoughts on “CNN appearance tomorrow

  1. My rules for what I will wear in the unlikely event that I will ever be asked to be on tv all come from what I have thought looked bad on someone I saw on tv. They are pretty simple.

    1. You only have to look nice from about sternum up, so don’t stress about pants/shoes. Yes, wear them, but don’t worry about whether or not they’re perfect.

    2. Thin stripes look wavy on my tv (possibly not true on newer, nicer tvs), so I would go with a large print or a solid.

    3. If I am supposed to be on the same side of an argument as someone else, try and coordinate with that person to make sure you don’t match. It just looks weird to me.

    4. Don’t wear anything potentially reflective. You will end up in just the right position to make distracting shinies at some point.

    But I’ll probably never have a chance to test out my rules since I really don’t anticipate being on tv ever.

  2. That’s more of a hygiene issue. You never know which special guest pundit used that chair before you did.

  3. Oh wow! Break a leg, you guys! Hope Petulant puts it up on youtube so I’ll be able to see it. I agree with JR about the thin stripes by the way – they definitely do weirdo Op Art things on screen.

  4. car’s rules:

    1. Do not wear anything with Christmas, Halloween, or Valentine’s Day images on it.

    2. Do not wear a cheap craft t-shirt that has a homemade puffy paint design, unless that design is letters that say “fuck the establishment”. However, then see rule 3.

    3. Do not wear a shirt that has swear words on it that will have to be blurred out.

    4. Do not wear a sweatshirt that has little round mirrors embedded in it.

    5. Do not wear an anorak inside the studio.

    6. Also, do not wear a balaclava while being interviewed.

    If you can do all of that, you’ll be ok. :D

  5. Oh, I forgot the reasons.

    1. People will get all freaked out thinking that they have the date wrong, and will rush off to their calendars, and miss your interview.

    2. People will try and figure out which shade of puffy paint you used, and google A.C. Moore to find out, and miss your interview.

    3. Obviously, everyone will be trying to figure out what the swear words are, and miss the interview.

    4. The mirrors will reflect everything in the studio, including the possible pantslessness of your interviewer, again detracting attention from the interview.

    5. You’ll pass out from the heat, and be unable to answer the questions before the interview segment is over.

    6. Your answers will be too muffled for anyone to understand what you’re saying.

  6. I was going to turn it into a long, thoughtful thing about how this just points up the ridiculousness of fashion rules in general, specifically discussing all the “Here’s how to look smaller/more hourglassy” rules that are thrown at fatties all the time.

    Not strictly clothes-related, but appearance-related–I recently got my hair cut short, something I’d put off forever ’cause I thought my face was too round (it’s a family trait we refer to as “moon pie head”). I probably never would’ve done it if not for this site (and this post in particular). :)

  7. Well, to be fair, televisions do not reproduce exactly what the eye sees, so that’s why there are “rules.” They’re right about the new TVs, though. In the days of B&W, wearing the wrong color shirt made you look like you had a five o’clock shadow.

  8. Some prints definitely are bad. Remember that striped tie McCain wore during the debates that went all moire on most peoples’ televisions? Other than that, though, I have no idea.

  9. The only time I was on TV, I was told to not wear white because it would make the camera go kind of lulu, but this was back in 1992. Good luck to you both and kick some major, major ass.

  10. I did TV a couple times and they basically told me not to wear anything with a small pattern on it. That was about it. The SO has done stage costuming work and agreed with that.

    I don’t remember what I wore, but it always worked out and I was the “go to spam chick” until the TV station went bust and moved out of SF.

    I’d probably avoid the purple check jacket because it’s busy, but other than that I wouldn’t fret too much

  11. As a former spokes person for an animal rights organisation here in Australia for many years I appeared on the telly quite a lot. Often after spending the night in a chicken shed or a piggery-lucky it wasn’t smellyvision. In my opinion the only thing to worry about is being comfortable. You want to be able to concentrate on telling your story not adjusting your clothing. So avoid low neckline that expose your bra if this bothers you, or short skirts you have to keep pulling down. Also remember they don’t always put you behind a desk, you might just have to sit on some uncomfortable couch. Anyways good luck ,I bet you will both be fabulous and do us all proud. Cheers Susan

  12. LOL at the Do/Do Not list. I think pretty much all fashion lists contradict each other, no matter where they’re telling you to go or what to do.

    From the pictures you’ve posted of yourself, you seem to have a pretty good grasp on modern, yet professional dress, so I wouldn’t worry.

    Can I say how awesome I think it is that you’re being asked to go on TV to discuss news events?

  13. Unfortunately, Al looked at me in that and said, “Do you really want everyone in America staring at your boobs?” Me: “But they’re totally covered!” Al: “Yeah, but… OMG BOOBS.”

    It is possible that Al sees your boobs, even though they’re completely covered, because, well, they’re your boobs and he’s Al . . .

    Rest assured that now I’ll be staring at them anyway. But not in a creepy way.

  14. Your list reminds me of the time when I became interested in “healthy eating” and tried to find out how to do so. After a decade or so, I am still clueless thanks to all the contradictory information out there! And yet every person I asked said it was sooo easy. Silly people, not doing their research properly …

    I totally agree with car’s list, though. :D

  15. Purple is awesome. I am a firm believer that everyone should wear purple at EVERY GIVEN OPPORTUNITY.

    That said, screw the rules, and wear something you think is pretty.

  16. I don’t think what you wear on TV matters half as much as all those ‘do and don’ts’ lists think it does.

    The only time I was on TV, I had about two hours’ notice and no time to go home and change, so I had to go in the scruffy green top with distracting embroidery which I’d been wearing all day and with my hair having the worst limp greasy day of the entire month. Plus it was an Islamic channel and said scruffy top was a bit low cut, so when I got there they gave me a scarf to wear over it and it was a different shade of green and totally clashed, BUT…the point is, when I saw myself afterwards, I looked fine. I mean, I wouldn’t have won any best-dressed woman on TV awards, but I don’t think anything in my appearance detracted from what I was saying.

    It’s just lucky that what I was saying didn’t include hair care tips :)

    Kate and Marianne, break a leg, you’ll be great, is CNN online, for UK readers who don’t have cable?

  17. At least we got past “Oh, I have to wear black”. I used to work retail for Women’s (read plus size) clothing, I got tired of hearing that one.

    Avoid moire stripes and chormache green.

  18. If you’ll be interviewed in front of a blue or green screen, it’s best not to wear the same color blue or green as the screen unless you want your outfit to be replaced by the digital background. (green is much more common now than blue partly because green is a much less likely color for clothing).

    Unless they give you other instructions, wear your everyday makeup. If you don’t usually wear makeup, wear just enough to look like you’re not wearing any.

  19. I hate the stress of picking out outfits and worrying about color, cut, and boobs. Is my back fat poking out? It seems like the public face we all wear is something purely decorative, not bodily. Think of the objections most people have to oppressed groups, especially those of larger body size, when they are too visible in public. They take up too much space, they are not sufficiently androgynous and white. You can see their pores. They have breasts and remind you of sexuality. God forbid we remind anyone of the fact that we are human and possess human bodies. It’s obviously obscene to pretend that we are anything but identical white perfectly coiffed members of the same socially acceptable mold. Let me know what that mold is, because I always have a hard time defining the ever-shifting and oppressive boundaries.

    I say wear the purple dress. From other pictures of you, purple would go smashing with your coloring. Plus, you’re young awesome and stylish and should thus wear something awesome. And purple empire-waist dresses sound awesome. When you have breasts, you have breasts. Nothing is really going to hide them, save a mastectomy, so best just wear something that makes them look nice makes you happy.

    But I intensely sympathize. I’d say a good part of my social anxiety and the reason I am such a home-body rather than a social butterfly has to do with the crushing weight of public appearance standards and how it sometimes fills me with such helpless rage that the effort to get dressed for someone nice is not worth it.

  20. i’m sorry, but where are the photos of this purple outfit?!?

    i realize i’m totally biased here, but i love purple, and i also think your rack is awesome. and can not think of any reason why it shouldn’t look good on teevee for all to enjoy.

    but mostly, you know, you’re just going to rock the casa with your brilliant intellect.

    now.
    pictures!pictures!

  21. They should have shot you a wardrobe suggestion list along with the invite, but they’re probably used to having wardrobe people and not worrying so much about it.

    Industry people all say that black doesn’t film well. The green and blue thing comes from Greenscreen and Bluescreen, which rely on particular shades of green and blue, which can be manipulated by magic wonder elves in post production. Sometimes if they’re running computer graphics over the interview it can screw with the colors of the people on camera.

    The purple dress sounds awesome. Don’t worry about being boobular on television, this is America. Viewers are more than used to breasts. They’re going to be focusing the camera at your face, anyway. (They’d better!)

  22. You will look and be fantastic whatever you choose to wear. The purple empire waist dress sounds pretty and national TV appropriate. Something bordeaux or deep cranberry red would look great on you as well. And serious LOLS at your husband’s “State Fair hobo clown” assessment of the plaid jacket.

    Can’t wait to see the segment!

  23. I think it will totally depend on the particular lighting in the studio.

    It’s just like how every store’s dressing room lighting is different. The worst is the lighting in my bathroom. It makes me look fantastic, but then I go into another room or outside, and the colors of my clothes look so different.

  24. I haven’t seen the purple dress and cami, but they sound like a good option, and better than the hobo clown one. I just thought of something new here. A Rack of Doom, like height, may actually gain you some sympathy on TV. It may be seen as something you can’t control, like Shapelings are aware weight is over the long run, and are trying to make others see that as well. I know that I can be a 34D when I’m a size 6 and a 38D when I’m a size 18, but no one has ever accused me of having small tits, at least not since high school. Women know that you go up or down a size or two with weight loss or gain but are largely not in control of breast size, short of going under the knife. Using breast size to frame the discussion could actually be a bridge-builder with women of different sizes.

  25. You should try and wear a shirt that matches the greenscreen color! That way, if you’re lucky, some background will be projected onto your body and you’ll look like a disembodied head. How awesome would that be?! Then, maybe no one will know if you’re a fatty or not and if they should just dismiss your comments out of hand (“Bah, obviously she’s just saying that ‘cuz she’s one of those lazy fatties! If only she was a thinster, then I could take what she says seriously!”)

  26. You’re going to sweat under the pressure/lights. Wear something that accommodates you when you’re nervous and sweaty.

    That said, fuck clothes, makeup is where it’s at.

  27. Okay, I already gave you advise, but what I didn’t say was this: I’ve been on TV several times (pre-digital, pre-HD, but still). I’m very aware of how different things look on TV. My sense is that people in the green room who look a little too dressed up and over the top look great on TV, and people who look just fine IRL look a teeeeeny bit frumpy on camera. Since I am the one who looked frumpy I memorized that lesson.

  28. Wear something that you like the way you look in. There are so many boobs on tv who will notice two more?

  29. I was interviewed on TV news fairly often in the 1990’s when I was education director for the local Planned Parenthood. My only advice is, do not ever stand and allow a kneeling camera man to film you. Because the chins and the breasts, they pop out and the lights shadow the eyes and my Catholic mother was pretty evenly mortified that her daughter was on tv representing PP and her daughter looked like the well-fed living dead.

    I think the purple dress and tank sound great. What’s wrong with some (not shot from below) breastiness?

  30. I don’t think you need to have been on TV to offer an opinion on this. Anyone who watches a lot of tv would have a better idea than someone who has been on tv a lot (unless they have watched themselves on tv).

    The most important thing is to wear something that compliments your skin color. And you probably already know what that is. Side note: There’s this localish news anchor that drives me nuts every time she wears this god-awful pink blazer that is probably twenty five years old. It totally sucks the life right out of her. When she wears deep red she looks phenomenal.

    Green and purple are both power colors and are used a lot in marketing campaigns; especially green. They are both appealing colors and I think you’d have success with both.

    Personally I would go with pants. Just in case there is that odd faraway shot and there’s a view of your sunshine spot. It could happen. :)

    I’m sure by the time the interview starts, clothing will be the least of your worries.

    Good Luck! Have Fun. Kick Ass!

  31. 4. Don’t wear anything potentially reflective. You will end up in just the right position to make distracting shinies at some point.

    This is what I was saying. I did not read through all your comments. I’m saying solid, matte, try to chill out the rack ; )

    Other than that, be brilliant. That will be the easy part.

  32. I do work in television, and I’ll tell you that on something like CNN, their filming quality isn’t great. So my advice?

    Red, black and white, worn in solid colors, film oddly. Red jumps around on screen, white fucks with the white balance, and black (although not the disaster that red and white are) also fucks with the white balance a little bit. (But if you have something great in black, just wear it; it’s not a disaster.)

    On TV, some shinies will also fuck with the filming, and will jump around a little. If it were me, I’d stick with matte.

    Solid vs. print doesn’t matter – but don’t wear a small print, because again, it will jump around. Solids are great, bold prints are great, little prints jump.

    Dark colors are fine, as are bright colors. Color in general (except for red) is better than black or white: navy films better than black, for instance. (I have NO idea who said pink is bad; IME, it films FABULOUSLY.)

    Re: blue and green: unless they’re filming you in front of a green screen (they won’t be on CNN), feel free to wear either one. (If you were wearing blue or green in front of a special-effects green screen, your body would disappear.)

    Either minimal accessories or conservative clothes with funky accessories are fine; just don’t wear a bright print with a shitload of jewelry. See again: film jumps around.

    Most important? Have a great time and if the only thing you have that you feel comfortable in breaks ALL the rules, wear it anyway. They’ll figure it out .

  33. Unfortunately no body ever issues a memo saying “Hey, we’ve fixed X, it’s not a problem, let it go.” Small prints are still a problem In the not too distant past, I saw Pres. Obama in tie with narrow stripes that had that weird rainbow distortion going on.

    My recommendations from watching a lot of interviews are to dress up more than you think you should, and do your hair fancy and hairspray it until it doesn’t move. Not surprisingly, people who aren’t used to TV often look nervous and that makes them look really out of place if their casually dressed. Their intent maybe to look “normal”, and thus be relaxed, but it often looks sloppy, particularly in comparison to the interviewer. Celebrities can pull it off, but that’s because they genuinely ARE comfortable, it’s like a master level TV appearance.

    Good LUCK!

  34. I’m just getting back from spending the day with Meowser (hi!) and it’s too late for any helpful advice, but I had a chance to view myself on tape twice in about 6 months. In one segment, I was wearing a turquoise, blue and green large print top (white background) and I looked great (my hair happened to be awesome that day) and the next time, I was wearing a black outfit that I thought looked amazing, but I ended up looking very round and with little definition. There were different camera and lighting scenarios, but it made me think that the lighter top (that everyone gives me compliments on when I wear it — I didn’t pick it out and don’t actually like it that much) looked much better. I think light (not pastel, but more “reflecting” than “absorbing”) looks better than really dark.
    That said, I have no doubt you will look and be amazing.

  35. You should try and wear a shirt that matches the greenscreen color! That way, if you’re lucky, some background will be projected onto your body and you’ll look like a disembodied head. How awesome would that be?! Then, maybe no one will know if you’re a fatty or not and if they should just dismiss your comments out of hand (”Bah, obviously she’s just saying that ‘cuz she’s one of those lazy fatties! If only she was a thinster, then I could take what she says seriously!”)

    Haha, I was kinda thinking along the same lines except I was mostly just thinking “doooood!1 It’d be friggin awesome to have the weather printed on yer bewbies to confoozle people!”

    So I might be just a little too entertained by the idea of having the weather printed over someone’s outfit. But I also have no idea what “matte” is. Before trotting off to google matte, I just want to wish you good luck, though I’m sure you don’t need it and will both look and sound great :)

    Also, for what it’s worth, I too am in the camp of saying a purple empire waist dress sounds awesome.

  36. I say….walk the talk. I know you’re going to be discussing the United fatty policy, but what you are about, Kate, (in my meager opinion) is not just this hellish United policy supporting the OMG TEH OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!! mania. You are about fat acceptance…period.

    The whole reason I come to this blog is to nourish my weary soul that has been bashing the fuck outta my self esteem and sense of worthiness soley because I’m a fat ass. I come here to get balance in a fucked up world that views humans worthy only if they epitomize physical perfection.

    Seeing you on TV “representing” your (and by God, OUR) views of the utter ridiculousness of this United policy will not only pop a prideful button off my bosom filled shirt, but it will also personify the fat acceptance movement.

    It doesn’t matter what you wear does it? This appearance is about what you have to SAY… for all of us trying to be courageous enough to command dignity for all, regardless of our size, in a world that zealously beats down those who don’t fit into a cookie cutter mold.

    Wear what you feel pretty and confident in. How you present yourself is less about what you have on and more about how you carry yourself. “BE” who you are on this blog. Don’t succumb to the pressures of conforming that you and so many of us fight against daily. You will be fabulous. I’m sure of it. :)

  37. Just watched you on CNN. The blue looked great. ;-) As did your hair, btw.

    I have been attempting to explain this controversy to my family with little success. I should have just had them listen to your argument this morning. You did a much better job than I could have. Well done!

  38. woooo!!! nice job!!! I woulda been sweating buckets. You looked awesome, sounded awesome! I wish they had mentioned the blog :)

  39. Great job Kate!! You were so poised and articulate, and you made your points very clearly. I’m sure many people are thinking about the issue with a much more balanced viewpoint. :D

  40. Oh, and can I just add that I absolutely “loved” the caller right before your interview who said that because she has to pay for an extra seat for her 25 lb DAUGHTER, that fat people should have to pay for their 25+ lbs of extra weight that they’re lugging onto the plane, too. I’m not sure if she’s insulting fat people there by suggesting that they’re two people, or her daughter for suggesting that she’s the equivalent of “extra weight.”

    Good God, think how expensive it must be to have an overweight daughter!

  41. I’m not sure if she’s insulting fat people there by suggesting that they’re two people, or her daughter for suggesting that she’s the equivalent of “extra weight.”

    Ha! I mean, my kid would totally fit in the overhead compartment if they didn’t insist on gouging me for the extra seat!

    The blue looked great.

    That was the purple, actually! But yeah, from the one picture I’ve seen, it looked totally blue. And the cami kinda looked like it clashed. Sigh.

  42. I’m watching right now… and, GOOD LORD, could there BE more headless fatties in this opening?

    Kate, you looked and sounded AMAZING. GOOD JOB. I was trying to stop squeeing to pay attention to what you said, and what you said was wonderful and spot on. I’m sorry – should I have called you KATIE? My bad.

    And @vgnvxn, they did mention the blog. It was in the little spinny graphic next to her head in the beginning. It said she ran a blog called Shapely Prose at kateharding.net. :)

  43. It looked purple to me on my TV! I went AH! That’s the purple dress! And I couldn’t even SEE your boobular area to OMG BOOBS. :( My loss, I’m sure.

  44. Oh, and can I just add that I absolutely “loved” the caller right before your interview who said that because she has to pay for an extra seat for her 25 lb DAUGHTER, that fat people should have to pay for their 25+ lbs of extra weight that they’re lugging onto the plane, too.

    That woman was ridiculous. So do we charge people for an extra seat for each 25 lbs. over their ideal bmi? If you’re 100 lbs. “overweight” but can fit in the seat, are you still expected to purchase FOUR extra seats? What if you’re 25 lbs overweight but fit fine (like me)? What if you’re at your “ideal” weight but can’t fit because those seats are designed for munchkins (such as myself)?

    This is why using numbers to talk about the beautifully infinite variety of human bodies is bullshit.

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