Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Vicarious Makeover

One of my favorite genres of television (or subgenre of Reality Television) is the Makeover Show. You name it and I probably have watched it and loved it: What Not To Wear, Extreme Makeover, The Biggest Loser, Ruby, etc. I even like Home Remodeling shows: Design Star, Sell This House, Flip This House, etc. And even if it's a show that isn't solely about makeovers, my favorite episode probably has something to do with makeovers--for example, America's Next Top Model--the makeover episode (generally episode 4) is the one I am the most excited about.

I never quite knew why or examined why I loved makeover shows, but in the past couple of days, I think I have discovered why: I live vicariously through other people's transformations.

It dawned on me as I lay watching episodes of "The Biggest Loser" (Season 6) for inspiration. For some reason, I could not find the will in me to get up and do what I set out to do today. My room is a sloppy, gigantic mess and I hate it. It depresses me and it is not a conducive environment to productivity. I told myself I would let myself watch one episode and then I would start cleaning my room. Three episodes later, it's time for me to leave the house and meet up with friends... no time left to clean.

"What went wrong?" I asked myself. "Why couldn't I find the motivation to clean?" I had been doing so well with the other goals I had set for myself recently; I had been committed and ready for a brand new lifestyle. Even though I had been focusing on weight loss, I knew before I even set out on my mission that my lifestyle changes would encompass more than just that--I knew that they would stretch to several other areas of my life. And yet, there I was, perfectly content to not move physically and just be emotionally moved by these people whose stories and struggles were similar to mine.

Then Amy P. from The Biggest Loser said something that made me realize what I was doing. "Instead of sitting in front of my TV and watching life happen, I am going to live it now." And BAM! The sirens go off, the alarms sound! In watching Extreme Makeover or The Biggest Loser, what I am doing is fulfilling my dream to become the person I want to be without actually doing the work. I live vicariously through the people and their experiences on these shows. I think, "I wish I could do that," but seeing their results ends up being just enough for me to be content, at least until the next episode. Sure, I am inspired and I would ultimately like to be like those people who take control of their lives and make a true, genuine change. But I suppose that somewhere in my subconscious, it's enough to see someone else's struggles and results and to feel like they were my own.

I think this was an important thing to realize. I am not quite sure what it means, I am not quite sure what I will do to combat this feeling, but I do know that reality television is not my reality. It's not enough to experience change through people on television. I want to be inspired by it, but I do not want to appropriate their feelings as my own. It's time for me to stop living vicariously and start living vivaciously!