Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Experience on What Not To Wear

by Jill Estes

When I was nominated for TLC’s show What Not To Wear, I was at first quite a bit offended. But after the experience I am grateful to have been part of it. The show aired last Tuesday, March 22nd. For a one-hour show, there was an incredible amount of work that went on behind the scenes.
The week of filming and shopping was long, exhausting and fun. That week made me realize a lot of things about myself that I wouldn’t have looked at if I weren’t forced to.

When I first arrived I thought this would be a great opportunity to have some time away from my busy schedule and relax. I immediately realized that was not the case. I also had the assumption that this was solely about my clothing and style. This too was not the case. The week of filming and shopping was a long and tiring one, but an experience I am lucky to have. I can’t count the amount of interviews, the amount of taxi’s I took, or the amount of stores I shopped in.

One major challenge on the show was to find clothing that was “work appropriate” but still felt like me. The show’s hosts, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, brought up a very valid point. When I dressed for work I did my best to hide my tattoos. Being that one main focus of the work I do is spreading the message to be true to yourself, and that nobody needs to conform to society’s mold, I was acting hypocritical for many years by covering myself up so much when I went out into the community. We agreed to find a happy medium.

The biggest challenge was finding clothes that didn’t make me feel uncomfortable in my own skin. My gender identity was a major conflict with many of the outfits they made me try on. I fall under the transgender umbrella as a gender bender who loves appearing androgynous. Although I am quite comfortable identifying as female, I do not feel comfortable in over feminized clothing. Every time they would put me in ruffles or floral prints I would shriek. During the countless interviews I was consistently asked why I didn’t feel comfortable in most women’s clothing. And I consistently answered that “I felt like I was dressing in drag”. Luckily, by the end of the week, I was able to find a wardrobe that met that happy medium and was true to my androgynous nature.

This experience made me take a long hard look at my inner workings. Here I am, a 29 year old confident woman doing valuable work in the community, yet I was hiding myself. I was forced to examine why this is. The outcome revealed that rather than hiding my body art when dressing for work, or feeling uncomfortable in over feminized clothing, I could find a wardrobe that works with my “permanent accessories” and keeps true to my personality.

The show didn’t air until about two months after the filming. I spent that two months growing worried as to how the producers would portray me, and enjoying my new wardrobe and hair cut, of course. They had so much footage of me that they could make me look like anybody they wanted. When I finally saw the show I was relieved to see that the producers really let the audience know who I am.

Being on TLC’s What Not To Wear was a life changing experience for me. Not too often in life am I forced to look deep inside for answers. By taking this deep look, I found some weaknesses that I could work on, and much new strength that I never knew I had. Over all I am very happy with the outcome of this major life transformation. I also must admit that shopping, which I used to despise, I now love and can’t seem to get enough of!


  1. This was a powerful piece of writing. Thanks.

  2. I really liked this episode and completely LOVE this new style for you. You looked cute before, but after the makeover it's like "How you doin'?". More importantly, you seemed very comfortable and happy at the end.
    Just one question, though... Why the heck aren't you a model? Or my girlfriend? (Kidding, I'm from Colombia).