An Open Letter to Tim Gunn: I am a real woman!


First things first: I am a big Project Runway fan, and you play no small role in that. You appear to be one of those rare people who is infinitely likable. Everyone should have a little Tim Gunn sitting on their shoulder. Thanks!

And now to the meat of the matter: I just watched the “real women” episode of Project Runway, Season 10. Every season there is one such episode– where the designers have to design and fit a client who is not a professional model, and is instead a woman proportioned more like the rest of the country. The “real women” challenges are particularly interesting; they highlight some of the assumptions made by the designers, separate the versatile wheat from the one-size-only chaff, and also allow us viewers to connect more closely to the whole process.

Each season, the women selected for the challenge are thematically linked. This season, we saw women whose friends had nominated them as desperately needing a makeover. In years past, we have seen brides-to-be, women who lost a lot of weight, daughters going to the prom, mothers of the contestants, and so on.

And so I would like to propose the theme for next season: women with fashion challenges imposed by medical need.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m talking about me, here. Chicks with insulin pumps. And Continuous Glucose Monitors and a bunch of other junk taped to their bodies.

Most of the time, I wear my pump like a pager, clipped on to my waistband. Really hip. When I got married, I strapped my insulin pump to my leg with a piece of velcro that I then hooked on to my underwear with a safety pin and string. When I wear a bikini, I have so many tubes and wires and puncture wounds all over the place that I have had to carefully cultivate an attitude of “Screw it,” and just deal with it. I rarely wear dresses because figuring out how to attach my medical devices to myself and still be able to see and use them is a headache.

I would love to have a Project Runway designer make me a fabulous outfit that takes into account my particular medical needs. Please? I nominate myself as the diabetic client, and then there are the women missing limbs; in wheelchairs; on dialysis; with dermatological sensitivities; and the list goes on.

Think of the possibilities! And the stories that can be told! Educational for the audience, and also heartwarming. This is a perfect idea, you must agree. 

C’mon, Mr. Gunn– what do you think?

Yours truly,
The chick with the insulin pump

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10 years ago

Great idea and what a fantastic way to put such a pretty face to the diabetes cause!

Jane Kokernak
10 years ago

Great letter. Please reach out to the hosts of What Not to Wear also []. I’d like to get on one of these shows myself, for selfish reasons: what are tips for wearing great clothes and having great style, while dealing also with the insulin pump?
I’ll bet, too, that people in wheelchairs or with any assistive devices would like to be taken seriously for their interest in looking professional or good or funky or whatever, and not have to be practical before they are sartorial.

Ilene Raymond Rush
Ilene Raymond Rush
10 years ago

Great idea, Karmel, but I think you look smashing as is!:)

Jeff Nobles
10 years ago

Great idea. I would love to see Tim Gunn and Project Runway accept this challenge!

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