Project Runway is a long-time guilty pleasure of mine. But I was pretty shocked and upset by their recent episode airing the L’Oreal Paris Makeover My Friend Challenge.
In this episode, “real life” non-models were nominated by their friends for makeovers on the show. The Project Runway contestants were each assigned a woman to create an original outfit for.
Fun, right? Not so much for Terri Herlihy, hardworking working mom with three children who had the misfortune to be assigned to Ven Budhu.
Ven Budhu insulted and bullied Terri from the outset. Why? Because she is around a size fourteen. He complained about being arbitrarily assigned to her, actually suggesting that he was being deliberately sabotaged because it was harder to design for a “larger” woman. He made rude and disparaging remarks about her body and “problem areas.” He said her before photo was a “nightmare.” Notably, Ven is not a small man himself. Which is not to put him down, one would think that maybe he would be able to identify with her.
At one point Ven had Terri in tears. I pictured myself as her. It could have been me. I’m around her size. I was really touched by her friend’s loyal support of her, as she described how selfless Terri was, how little time she takes for herself because she is so busy with work and her family. This was a rare opportunity to get something done for her. Instead, she got abused by an insensitive jerk on national television.
The purpose of this challenge was for designers to show they could work with real-life women of different shapes and sizes, as well as to listen to their clients and meet their wardrobe needs while incorporating their own fashion designer aesthetic. Clearly, Ven wasn’t up to the task. He tried to shift blame her for his failings, saying Terri had no style and a bad attitude. Terri requested pants, which were most conducive to her lifestyle and personal needs. Ven couldn’t manage that, saying his specialty was dresses. Project Runway contestants are supposed to accessorize their models and put together a complete look. Ven Budhu couldn’t be bothered doing that, instead leaving Terri without accessories or even shoes.
The outfit Ven created for Terri was ugly and uninspired. Despite that and his bad behavior, while Ven was in the bottom two, he wasn’t sent home. Viewers are furious. Continue reading