The Living Library: People on Loan


Sunday mornings are pure bliss for many reasons, namely sleeping in, eating breakfast in bed, and not having a care in the world (which unfortunately never lasts very long). But best of all is tuning in to CBC News Sunday. Perhaps it’s the boyish charm of co-host Evan Solomon, but a huge part of the show’s appeal derives from the informative news bits, factoids, and features about innovative projects and social initiatives, which would otherwise completely pass us me by.

This Sunday, we were introduced to the Living Library, a social initiative which aims to break down stereotypes by promoting dialogue between individuals who stereotype and people (or advocates for people) who are subjected to stereotyping. The concept is simple: people stand in as “books” on loan that “readers” may afterwards “borrow” during a 45-60 minute talk in order to gain more insight into, and a better understanding of who a person really is. “Books” discuss anything from ethnicity to religion, touching on adolescence, homelessness and obesity to name a few, the ultimate goal being to challenge the most common prejudices.

Now, as I was watching this, the first thought that came to mind was that if I were a “book” on loan at this library, I would choose to be a fashion advocate, and I would attempt to dispel stereotypes about fashion-conscious people. It is my experience that people who take a strong liking to fashion, who like to dress well, who invest in clothing, and build a collection of garments and accessories to match, are automatically labeled superficial, frivolous, self-indulgent compulsive shoppers. The same is never said about other enthusiasts, like collectors of vinyl records, stamps, comic books, sports memorabilia, epicureans, video gamers, or people who like to modify their cars, for instance. It’s all the same, isn’t it? It boils down to nothing more than taste and preference.

After years of criticism and judgment by others, I am officially annoyed with having to constantly defend my frequent perusal of shops and boutiques, my regular, yet far from compulsive purchasing of clothes, and the attention that I reserve to the way I dress before walking out the door.

No, not all fashion lovers have maxed out credit cards. Not all fashion lovers are narcissistic and self-indulgent. Not all fashion lovers spend money carelessly. Not all fashion lovers have nothing to talk about besides fashion!

Fashion lovers simply enjoy fashion, and think twice about what they put on because looking good boosts one’s confidence, dressing is a form of self-expression, and the mere act of dressing can make or break a first impression. While others collect stamps, vintage records, baseballs or video games, we collect clothes, and certainly not at the expense of our rent, and basic necessities! And in the face of the economic crisis, fashion lovers have a right to continue collecting, only we have to think twice before purchasing that which we covet. But last time I checked, I’m still breathing, and as such no economic crisis will stop me from living.

And God forbid, if I get hit by a bus (or a snow removal truck, which seems more likely in Montreal) next time I cross the street, I would like to go out in style!

Photo via

UPDATE: Alas, CBC News Sunday is no longer. I’m so incredibly sad. There is such a lack of quality television programming nowadays. Why take away one the few intelligent news programs that did fill the void?

One Response to “The Living Library: People on Loan”
  1. Mlle M. says:

    Hear hear! This is so true. Paying attention to fashion and appearance is FUN, and I see it as part of crafting my experience in the world. There’s nothing superficial about aesthetic concerns.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: