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Video: Stacy London ‘didn’t really fit in’ because of weight

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    >> first this is "today" on nbc.

    >>> back now at 8:44 with "today's style." face expert stacy london opens up about struggling to find her own confidence in her new book "the truth about style." good morning.

    >> love what you're wearing.

    >> i pass the test.

    >> nerve racking with you fashion experts. you say this is not just another fashion book.

    >> no. it's not so much a how do-to-book though there is a lot of information and tips. it's really a why we don't book t.seeks to explore some of the reasons and some of the minds et cetera that get in our way when we're trying to kind of create our best most authentic style, even though authentic is probably an overused word, and so i talk about my own struggles and my own love-hate relationship with style and myself.

    >> you're very open in this book.

    >> yes.

    >> the first chapter is called learning how to shed my skin, and as you mentioned, you talk about your own struggles with eating disorders and having psoriasis as a young girl and what impact that had on you.

    >> i was diagnosed when i was 4 and when i was 11 i had a serious bout and was covered in red scales from my neck down. eating disorders kind of came later in life for me and i battled them for a short amount of time, under two years, but it was pretty significant, and i think that,000 that's what attracted me to the world of fashion , and maybe in not the healthiest way because i wanted to be beautiful and cool and in and, you know, i wanted to be cutting edge, and what i found when i got there is, you know, i didn't really fit in. i mean, i loved it, and i loved fashion , but it wasn't until i got to tlc's "what not to wear" that i realized style could have a much greater impact because it really can change the way a person feels about themselves from the outside in.

    >> and you talk a lot about real women and probably one of the reasons you identify with some of their struggles. let's talk about some of the women you gave start-overs to.

    >> yes.

    >> not the same as a makeover.

    >> that's correct. i wonder if a start-over is the right term. now that i've written the book i'm having writer's remorse. i think they should be called jump starts, because what we did here is gave our models a new way to see themselves and when you can see yourself in a new way you can believe yourself in a new way.

    >> sarah , 26 years old, and you write in the book is her symptom blank slate clothing due to fit and self-consciousness and tunnel vision . we want to bring sarah out and tell us what you did to change her style.

    >> hi, sarah .

    >> not that i went so much about changing her style as really talking to sarah about some of the things that were causing her anxiety about shopping and about getting dressed. and one of the things is, that you know, look, sarah has a trickier body. she's tall and lots of tall women have issues finding clothes that really fit them length-wise in the leg and in the arms, but it was also -- it was really about kind of reanalyzing the way that she felt about herself and the most important thing was finding a way to find joy income able to get dressed, even if it's difficult, persevering, and that's what this became about, and she's also lost 20 pounds since the photo shoot . sglur look pretty fabulous. how do you feel?

    >> i feel amazing.

    >> you connected with sarah , could relate to her approach.

    >> nine women in the book, an every woman i chose i chose because i -- i felt that i really understood their struggle and that i have gone through the same thing, if i'm not still going through it, and with sarah i really felt an incredible connection. i really do understand what it feels like to -- to real uncomfortable in your own skin and to be able to get past that and see, you know, yourself for the beauty that you are.

    >> we want to bring out our next model. this is tai. you talked about her symptom is clothing is inappropriate to age. misguided desire to be trendy, not frumpy, frustrated by lack of enthusiasm.

    >> ty said i love my body, i love my curves, and the bigger issue, if i had to name her chapter i would talk about trying to fit which is what i tried to do when i was at "vogue" when i was 180 pounds. ty is a fashion blogger and really understands the fashion industry , has a great eye but wasn't applying that knowledge to herself because she thought she had to look a particular way. when i think ty's a trailblazer, and just because you can't see it doesn't mean you can't become it and become a role model for somebody else, and that's what we wanted to do with ty is give her the confidence to go out and be that fashion blogger and speak to the people who aren't being spoken to about fashion and -- and pave the way for others.

    >> real quickly, ty, what's the verdict, you like the new look?

    >> of course.

    >> you look fabulous.

    >> thank you.

    >> thank you so much, and stacy landon, some great tips and things to remember. the book is called "the truth

TODAY books
updated 10/2/2012 8:45:57 AM ET 2012-10-02T12:45:57

In “The Truth About Style,” Stacy London of “What Not to Wear” offers fashion advice for women looking to boost their self-confidence and develop a sense of personal style. London also shares her own painful struggles with body acceptance, while highlighting the emotional transformations eight other women underwent by finding their own looks. Here’s an excerpt.

What This Book Is Not

This title is a funny one for me. If this chapter were a person, I’d never let them get away with defining themselves in the negative. But in this case, I want to dispel you of any preconceived notions you may have about this “type” of book.

Why write a book about fashion? I’ve struggled with this. It’s not that I don’t love the subject, but what else is there to say that every fashion blogger, mommy blogger, stylist, ex-model, and even I haven’t already said? I mean, there are a kajillion fashion books out there already. Does anyone really need another tome to tell her what 99 items to buy, how to dress like the women on TV shows, how to dress for the red carpet, or wear shimmer? I’m not knocking “how to” books—they are often great, and necessary. But I did one of those already. My first book, Dress Your Best, which I coauthored, was about how to dress according to body type, just like a Colorforms manual. Why write another one? Save the trees! Keep your money! Who needs another fashion book?

Penguin Group

Story: 'Pretty Powerful': What it takes to feel and look good

And then I had a bit of an a-ha moment. It came to me at the home of my dear friends Molly and David, whose three children were all under the age of six at the time. These kids were like aliens—so polite, so well behaved, but inquisitive and joyous, and just such a pleasure that I had to ask Molly and David how they managed to be such wonderful parents. What was the trick? It was Zion, their son, who gave me the answer: their number-one house rule was called “Yes . . . And.”

I sat there blankly looking at this five-year-old, waiting for him to finish the sentence. David stepped in to explain that this was the first rule of improv: The idea is to take what life has given to you, accept it wholly, and then build on that. Accept and create, essentially. Molly and David’s kids had been taught to accept rules and to be creative, and their demeanor reflected what they’d been taught. It’s not only a great parenting strategy but a fundamentally useful life philosophy. And as I sat there, I thought, That’s a great style philosophy, too—and one I can write a book about.

First, consider the principle “accept what you’ve been given”—the “yes” part of the equation. “Yes,” where style is concerned, is an unbiased, dispassionate acceptance of who you are, where your body is right now (today, not next week, after a crash diet), and what your life circumstances are. You must accept the good, the bad, and the ugly, without prejudice. “Notice, don’t judge,” as my sister Jaclyn once told me (attribution, sister, see?). You must get to a Zen place about the raw material you have to work with, to be able to say, “I love my back, hate my ass, I’m old, I have limited resources and that’s okay.” Acceptance means knowing when your pants are too tight. It means not wearing your favorite dress when the armholes squish your chest into your armpits. When I say “accept,” I mean accept: No more judgment, just pure dispassionate observation. The “yes” is absolutely essential to style. If you deny the reality of your body or your life, you’ll never be able to dress any of it well—even the parts you love. You have to see it all to work with any of it.

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Ignoring a problem (or a “problem area”) doesn’t solve it. Trust me when I say I’ve tried that route many, many times. The only way to deal with a style problem is to confront it and attack it head-on. This is the “and” part of the equation, the best part of it. “Yes” is acceptance; “and” is advancing to the next step. “And” is coming up with a passionate strategy to emphasize what you love about yourself and to de-emphasize what you don’t. Don’t ignore your least favorite areas or try to hide them. Hiding implies a shame about ourselves. Even when you don’t like something, you can accept I and “consciously camouflage” (trademark pending) it instead. Go up a size or three to look great in your pants. Strategize your spending budget. Part of “and” is using style as a tool to help create the image you want to put out in the world that tells others how you want to be treated. It can also help you foster self-esteem you didn’t know you could have.

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Going through the mental process of “Yes . . . and” is paramount before you try on a single article of clothing. Style doesn’t start with your body—it starts with your brain. There has been much discussion in the last few years about neuroplasticity, the notion that the brain can reconfigure itself and form new pathways throughout life. The same can be said for how you think of your physical appearance, especially how you dress—call it the neuroplasticity of style.

For fashion-book clichés like “the must-have trench for spring” or “three ways to rock a poncho,” you’ll have to go somewhere else. Let’s be honest: If “how to” advice was that useful, you’d all be dressing well and I’d be out of a job. The “how to” approach is about changing your look. From years of working with women, I’ve discovered that that is only part of what they’re really after. For that reason, my bookdoesn’t only deal with only how to dress well, and why you should, but it examines why you don’t. We all put obstacles in our own path toward personal style, myself included. If we understood why we constructed these practical and emotional obstacles, we might move beyond it to healthier, happier perceptions of ourselves and, ideally, a better sense of self-esteem. Style can change your look, certainly, but it can also change your life.

And that, my dears, is What This Book Is.

The book is called The Truth About Style. But when I think about it, there’s more than one truth. Or maybe there are lots of little truths that add up to one big one.

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group Inc., from “The Truth About Style" by Stacy London. Copyright © 2012, Furry Purry, Inc.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive


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