Love Your Body

#turning40andsad? Style expert Gok Wan's tips to accepting your changing body

Fashion expert Gok Wan, host of the British TV show, "How to Look Good Naked" says it is his mission to help women feel better about themselves and their bodies. We all have an urge to cover up and hide ourselves, says Gok, who joined TODAY as part of the week-long series "Love Your Selfie, Reclaiming Beauty." But "if you start showing off a silhouette, you'll feel smaller than you actually are."

If we are feeling unhappy with our size, he advises: "Go to a mirror, with a marker pen. Get someone to do our sihouette in the mirror. Stand back and you'll see exactly where your perception is wrong." 

We asked what advice you needed from Gok. Read on for his answers.

Q. I am 39 about to turn 40. I don't feel 40 (which is good), but I couldn't be more unhappy with my body. What advice do you give women whose bodies are changing as they are getting older? #turning40andsad

--Carilu Contreras

A: Your bodies change the whole of your life. Your bodies are continually evolving. 

This is what you have to do — form a new relationship with the new reflection you’ve got in the mirror. The mirror has got to be your best friend. A little tip I suggest with the women in the UK: in front of the mirror on the left hand side, with a packet of post-it notes, write down every single negative about your body. Put up as many as you like up. You can talk about yourself as honestly as you want to. Then, every single day, on the right hand side, you need to write one part of your body or something you accept about yourself. To do that, you have to take down one of the negatives. 

Over weeks or days, however long it takes, what you’ll see is you’ll start building up a positive [feeling]. It changes or rewires how you see yourself. So when you look in that mirror over a couple of weeks' time, you’ll start concentrating on the parts of your body you accept. 

Q. I am a 53-year-old woman who has very large legs. My feet are normal size. I can only wear wide leg or wide boot cut jeans or pants. I am comfortable with my weight and upper half of my body — but my legs are embarrassing. I wonder what you can recommend. 
--Peggy Sanchez, Minnesota

A. The first giveaway is the language you’re using. You used a terrible word, which is “normal,” insinuating that your legs are abnormal. There are no abnormalities when it comes to the body, because every single body is built differently. It’s genetics. It’s about muscle mass; it’s all that kind of stuff. You accept half of your body — your torso. You need to focus on that. 

It’s not about covering it up. It’s not about hiding or disguising it. It’s about making sure that isn’t the focus point. Really work on your upper body and work on your hair and makeup as well. All the other stuff in your beauty regimen and grooming, it’s going to make you feel more confident. It’s not about turning around and saying, "I love myself." It’s about accepting. 

Q. How does one battle a mother who constantly puts you down growing up ( “you would look better if you…lost weight, cut your hair, styled your hair, etc). I am almost 50 and I am still ashamed of what I look like.
--Sherrill Craig

A. She’s probably not embarrassed about you. You have to think about where your mother came from, if she was a dancer she was probably judged by the way she looked. You need to open up clear forms of communications; you need to talk to her, you need to be really, really honest. If you can’t talk to her in person, then you need to write her a really detailed letter. Don't email it, hand write it. Explain why it hurts when she says some things, explain why you think it’s damaging. Allow her to see and hear from you for the first time. She’s not doing it to be malicious. She comes probably from a slightly darker place. I’ve been to drama school, I know the environment ; it’s a breeding ground for insecurity. The only thing you can do is be honest with her. 

Q. I am a 37-year-old mum of 3, married, am in college and work part time. I am 6 feet tall, size 12 and find it so hard to find clothes that suit me. I can do casual very well I think -- but if I try to dress up at all I just can't do it. I hate my body after the kids and would love you to sort me out with wardrobe advice realllllllllyyy need it! 
--Denise Keane, Co. Waterford, Ireland

A. There are so many different brands that do outsize clothing — that’s tall or plus size. Just because you’re 6 foot, you still need to wear heels, to embrace your height. Stand higher than everybody else. Shake what mama gave you, that kind of thing. 

You’re 37-years-old — it’s a good age for you to change your look. Do your research, build up a file with images and looks you like. Then start changing. It’s very hard to give a makeover on paper, but that’s what I’d say. 

Questions have been edited for content and length.