April 23, 2013 at 9:30 AM ET
In our society, style is so connected to body image that it’s almost impossible for a woman to look at a dress and not think of her figure simultaneously — therefore what’s under the dress, and how you feel about it, is the foundation of it all. And for this reason, my book "The Power of Style" takes a unique step back to start from the inside out. So, I’ll go first: Here I am in my minimizer bra and shapewear.
Acceptance is a difficult word to embrace, especially when standing in front of a mirror naked. Even if you don’t like what you see, you must own, embrace and accept. It’s critical to see yourself honestly, exactly as you are in that very moment, and value your reflection.
Because if you don’t value something, why would you invest in it? What would motivate you to take care of it? And wouldn’t it be true, that you would then adorn it with items of equal worth? I mean, after all, would you wash or put premium gas in an old car you don’t care about?
Only you can deprive you of feeling good, and of self-worth. Regardless of our current state, nothing can be gained from focusing on what you don’t like. It’s when you love the skin you’re in that you can really be free to express yourself (the true definition of style).
Many women don’t wear what they want or love, but instead opt for something that will conceal or cover-up. Instead of wearing things that highlight who you are, we often end up focused on what will make us look thinner, or younger. Ultimately this detour alters your entire wardrobe, and in turn, your image. Others would never know if you have a free-spirited bohemian streak if you’re in all black, or a quirky personality if you’re afraid that patterns are unflattering.
For the past eight years, on a weekly basis, I've spent approximately two hours glamming up prior to each of my TODAY segments, where viewers watch the polished version I present. I absolutely love fashion and beauty, and exploring different ways to express myself. And while I've typed the above words, and hold the title "style expert," I’m not immune. At 38 years old, it’s an ongoing challenge to accept my ever-changing self. I’ve cried in a dressing room about my boobs being "too fat" just moments before walking out on live TV, and I’ve passed on the dress I loved because it exaggerated my hips. But I dig myself out, shift my focus inward, and rely on the true power of style within me.
With so many “picture perfect” images ingrained in our psyche, we have a knee-jerk reaction to compare ourselves to unrealistic ideals. It’s as if we are afraid of ourselves, and thus avoid looking in the mirror. Therefore, I think it’s important to see more reality, to see more of ourselves —and each other. I’m a girl’s girl, always have been, always will be, and wholeheartedly believe that a support system works. We really can change our view, individually and collectively, to understand that style is not about stuff, and starts far deeper than the surface of our outer layers.