Welcome to UnStyled, a new podcast from Refinery29’s global editor-in-chief and cofounder, Christene Barberich. As we embark on the first season (11 episodes in total for your listening pleasure; make sure to subscribe to the entire series on iTunes!), each week will explore the perspective of a strong woman who knows that "style," however she defines it, doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, the messier the better, as long as you make it your own. As our first guest, Stacy London, tells us, “Style and psychology meet at the corner of happy and healthy...just like Walgreens!”
You probably know Stacy London from her time as co-host of TLC’s iconic, long-running show What Not To Wear — and if so, that means you have so much more to know about this legend in the making. Listen, below, as she goes deep with Barberich on ageism, body dysmorphia, and how much power the right wardrobe for you really has. In London's own words, changing an outfit can be a gateway to endless possibilities: “When you see a fast and [positive] change in yourself — once you see that’s possible — you start to wonder what else is possible.”
You've talked a lot over the years about dealing with and living with body dysmorphia.
"Body dysmorphia isn't like the flu; it doesn’t actually go away. I think that it goes into remission and then it can flare up. It is one of those things that I have struggled with my whole life. You look at yourself in the mirror and can't see yourself and your body doesn't really change, you know? It's more complicated for somebody like me, who has a history of eating disorders, because my body has looked so different all through the years that the body dysmorphia gets confused with just not being able to see myself anymore. One year I'm 20 pounds lighter and the next year I'm 20 pounds heavier — and that's a big roller coaster."
I think it [insecurity] also has a lot to do with our closets. You don't wanna deal with it and you can close the doors on it. Obviously, that's a huge metaphor in life. There's something so symbolic about the shit that we stash in our closets. There's the sense of like, 'I have so much stuff and I have nothing to wear,' right? I mean we hear this over and over, 'It's not who I wanna be.'
"It's not who anybody wants to be. We take it for granted that the closet and getting dressed in the morning is always gonna be a thing, it's always gonna be a hassle. And I don't believe that. I actually believe that your closet should be a place of joy and fun. It can be so wonderful. All you have to do is organize it so that it is. That means going through and slogging and doing the work. But once you do all that work at the front end, the reward is that it's sort of manageable. That also means having to come to terms with the things that you need to let go of. I am not big on sentimentality when it comes to clothing. I don't like to keep tons of things that don't fit me, even though my weight goes up and down and I should probably just hold onto a few things, I just don't want to."
What are three things that women in their 20s and 30s can look forward to in their 40s?
"You don't care so much what people think and your style will probably be decided. You'll have an idea of what you want to say to the world, because your identity will be so much more cemented in experience. And...you don't have to go out every night! You're not gonna wanna be as social. There is a solidarity between my friends that I didn't have in my 20s. Some of them are newer friends, some of them are super-old friends. But there's such a loyalty between my friends now.
"I don't remember my 20s, because I was running so fast. I was like, 'Don't look down and don't look up, because if you do, you'll trip.' I feel like 30s are the most fun decade in the sense that you're not making sort of the youthful mistakes of your 20s. You're still trying to define yourself but that is the decade in which you can do it. You hit 40 and you look good enough to get away with whatever you did at 20, but you're smart enough not to."
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