I am a big Project Runway fan and I have been writing reviews of the episodes, past contestants post-show collections and so on. I am also friends with some past contestants.
I constantly get asked by my friends, family, schoolmates and teachers why I do not try out for the show and why I have not done so. The reasons are multiple.
Project Runway is a contest-show that is 20-30% about design, 40% about fast sewing and construction skills and 30% about being a "personnality" and making for good TV and creating TV-worthy drama.
I have a HUGE personnality. My life and background and life story are quite fascinating. But I do not care to play a larger than life charicaturesque version of myself for several months to entretain the masses. Deep inside of me, there is still an intellectual nerdy girl that needs frequent breaks and that needs to be blah and quiet ( I call them my "quiet bunny" periods) and just normal. Those become more frequent when I am busy, and focused and concentrating. A big clue: I am a scientist too. I am capable of intense focus and I am very serious about my work as a scientist. writer and designer. When I am working, I am working. I am not doing stand-up. Playing a more "dramatic" Santino Rice/Jay McCarroll/ Christian Siriano-esque version of Milla, AND producing and creating to do myself justice would be completely EXHAUSTING. On top of not much fun. I love making people laugh and laughing with them on occassion. But I am not about to have people laugh AT me not WITH me and have my effort, personnality and life reduced to my mannerism and catch phrases. I am SO much more than that. I don't just want to be the fat flamboyant nerd girl on Project Runway.
Another thing that bugs me has to do with that. The utter disrespect with which the show treats people of size and how they assume that we are miserable and unworthy until we embark in significant weight loss efforts. NOT. That and how NONE of the designers on the show has been capable of designing a beautiful, modern, flattering garment for anyone over a size 4. If you can't, you are not a fashion or clothing designer. End of story. What you are is a closed-minded conceptual artist that uses fabric as a medium. I can design for a size 0 and a size 32. Really, it's not much different. Zac Posen has done it. Michael Kors has done it. Isaac Mizrahi has done it. Malan Breton has done it. Bradley Bayou has too and so have Ralph Lauren and Carmen Marc Valvo.If you can't, you suck. There.
I am healthy and happy and confident and vibrant ( most of the time and depending on income and how much money is in my checking account and how current I am on my bills and how nice my family is to me) as I am and I am not planning on putting any effort on weight loss. I don't believe in the concept and I think it is akin to trying to force a gay person to become straight or a black person to become white. Forcing weight loss and thinness on people and extolling one body type and size over another, is prejudiced and pernicious. Period. So until Project Runway allows designers to use plus-size models on an equal measure as thin models and they stop taking money from weight loss industry sponsors such as Weight Watchers and Slim Fast and having challenges extolling the virtues of weight loss which to me is an eating disorder trigger, I cannot in good conscience participate in the show. And don't even try to factor in " health" because I know more about health and human physiology than most practicing doctors, so there. I am actually the one telling them how to treat patients and what to prescribe on a regular basis. Taking money from the weight loss industry is no better in my opinion than taking money from homophobic organizations or from the KKK . I don't even care if it can be done or not or what work or does not work. It is my choice to remain fat, healthy and happy and NOT attempt weight loss because I feel that is what is best for me and my mental and physical health. And I have poured EXHAUSTIVELY over ALL and every bit of scientific evidence.
Now, I am a designer. I am only a very novice and learning dressmaker and tailor. I have designed clothing all my life. In HS for all my dances and my dance costumes, in college I designed all of the costumes for the shows I choreographed and directed, and I have done that pretty consistently forever. But I am just learning how to construct clothing and how to sew. I CAN sew and I CAN cut but that is about the extent of it. I still need to learn how to pattern-make and drape. So, in order to participate in the show, I would have to do so with my design partner who is the strong construction person in the team,while I am the design strenght. By the time I get fast enough and strong enough to turn out beautifully constructed garments in 24 hours or less by myself, it would be 2 or so years. By then, the show will be cancelled since they are moving to Lifetime and their fate is up in the air. Going by what happened to Buffy The Vampire Slayer ( my favourite TV show of all time) when it moved networks, it's not looking good for Project Runway.
Another point is that being on TV is really not that important or interesting a concept for me. Neither is being a celebrity or not or being famous or not. I just want to be a great designer and be happy at what I do and have my work recognized and making people happy and that is evidenced by reviews in the press and retail sales, not TV appearances or media coverage. I grew up on TV. I have been on TV shows before. Really, it is not that big a deal.
The other thing is as a designer I am not sure if Project Runway is a positive or a negative. American Idol can be a giant BOOM in a singer's career as has been the case with Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson or Daughtry.
But Project Runway has not had the same effect on the careers of the designers participating or even winning the show. Yes, they get PR and press coverage and some show at LA or NY Fashion Week. But has anyone developped a line that translates into a sell-out, wait-listed garment or accesory yet? Or major retail sales? Is anyone who has been on PR carried at Saks or Neiman's? Has anyone other than Tim Gunn gotten a job as A DESIGNER or Creative Director with a major label? The answer is NO. And the 100k prize is NOTHING as a designer. That would barely cover the fabric and PR and renting a space to develop a collection. No Fendi baguettes or Seven jeans or Lanvin t-shirts or Paddington bags out of Project Runway as of yet.
So really my focus is in becoming a serious, commercially and critically successful designer. A plus/bridge designer at that. Not a media sensation or a reality TV "celebrity". I want to be Vivienne Westwood or Alexander McQueen or Alber Elbaz. Not someone that is on TV for a season and then is forgotten about.
So my plan is to focus on designing and becoming a better designer and acquiring the best skills and going to a great school, getting a good job, striking up a deal and backing with a clothing conglomerate and being happy and creatively and financially successful. Being on TV and getting press is really like majorly not on the top of my list. Been there, done that, gotten the "American Apparel" quality catch phrase t-shirt and have already donated it to Goodwill.
I want to be sold a Saks and Harvey Nicks and Holt Renfrew. Not covered on TMZ or Perez Hilton.com.