Stacy London, co-host of “What Not to Wear” (my favorite style show), has written a book that’s part memoir, part style guide called The Truth About Style.
But I’m not going to talk about the style part of her book. (Though I will say that I love Stacy’s tips and insights on the subject. One of my favorite quotes from the book: “You are already beautiful. At any weight.” This is what I’ve always loved about Stacy and Clinton Kelly’s TLC show: There’s no shape or size shaming. It’s not about fitting yourself into clothes. It’s about finding clothes that fit you and help you feel empowered in your own skin.)
I want to talk about what Stacy reveals about herself in The Truth About Style, because the book is achingly honest. Because it reminded me, again, that all of us have a body image story. That, in fact, many of us have stories of a broken body image, a shaky sense of self and a bully or two.
In the book Stacy reveals her insecurities about having psoriasis as a child. (Her first symptoms started at four years old.) She talks about feeling different, and worse, “flawed” and “unfixable.”
She talks about kids treating her as if she wasn’t normal. Some even left notes in her locker saying she was uglier than the Elephant Man. Other notes told her to leave school before she infected other students. “It was like being outed for being a monster.”
She talks about avoiding mirrors and wanting to trade anything for psoriasis-free skin.
I barely looked at myself. I avoided mirrors and made deals in my head. I’d think, If I could have normal skin, I’d give up my teeth. Or, For normal skin, I’d gain fifty pounds…
She talks about the deep scars left behind, both physical and emotional. She talks about the scars of insecurity, wounds that are still fresh today.
Although I’ve accepted my scars, I don’t always feel okay about them. Wearing bathing suits during vacations in the dead of winter is the worst. I’m white as a corpse, with a strange texture to my skin and deep tears in it. When I see other women in bikinis, I don’t even notice whether or not they’ve got great bodies. What I see — all I see — is the skin I’ll never have. That’s what I envy.
While I have given up on dwelling on the insecurity, it never goes away completely. I wish I could leave the house, head off to meet friends, go to work, engage in life, and not think twice about my body or what it went through. But I’m not sure that’s possible for me. Instead, I think I’ve learned how to live alongside it.
Because of my own past insecurities and grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side beliefs, I automatically assume that everyone emerged from the womb, adolescence and young adulthood unscathed. That everyone has been confident their entire lives. That everyone has everything all figured out.
I really appreciate Stacy’s searingly candid words about her personal struggles. Her words remind me that I’m not alone. And neither are you.
They also remind me that even though we may have lingering insecurities, we can create satisfying, meaningful lives. We can follow our passion.
Stacy has. She has a fulfilling and fascinating life, helping other women improve their body image (and lives) by changing their styles. By becoming proud of being in their own skin, whatever shape or size or number on the scale.
Our past hurts do not direct our lives or define our future. We can shape them into positive ventures and adventures.
We can take the fabric of our past stories and mold the materials into a beautiful blouse, pair of pants, a skirt or even a bracelet.
Everyone has the power to tell a different story.
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Last reviewed: 5 Oct 2012