The picture I've been too ashamed to show you.

Every day I watch the news, and everyday it becomes more and more clear to me as to WHY women have body image issues. When a nominee for the President of the United States of America can get away with flippant misogyny, sexism, harassment and blatant objectification of women on the political platform... well, it makes me mad.

She's a 4. Miss Piggy. Such a Nasty Woman.

And I won't even say the most offensive comment... you know the one.

I've worked REALLY HARD in the past few years to see my body as more than the sum of its "imperfect" parts. I've practiced, actually PRACTICED looking at my naked body in the mirror, staring, until what I saw before me normalized and I could see my body as whole. 

I've come SO FAR in the past couple of years, but sometimes it's still hard.

Just this summer my husband took a picture of me at the beach that sent me into a completely unexpected body-shaming tail spin. I thought I was past that nonsense. I internalized all the garbage we hear about our bodies, and I let it paralyze me.

 
 

I cancelled date night. I hid in a cover-up for a few days. I didn't play with my kids.

I shared my anger, sadness and shame with my husband, and do you know what he said?  "No wonder you feel the way you do, sweetie. The only women I saw walking on the beach this week without a cover-up on were tall, slender, muscular women. Where in hell was everybody else? I'll tell you where they were. Sitting in their beach chairs, hiding their bodies!"

It was true. WHERE WAS EVERYBODY ELSE?

I got back in my suit before our vacation was over, but when I did, I was inhibited. I tried like hell not to be, but it was hard.

The how-to-have-a-beach-body societal pressure has always made me bristle.  I want to believe that I am stronger than any societal message, but sometimes, when I'm feeling open and free and vulnerable, I get gob-smacked and I crash into a puddle of self-deprecating tears. And I believe every slanderous comment and magazine headline that says my body is not beautiful enough.

Except right now, I don't feel myself weakening with every nasty comment I hear on TV, I feel myself gaining STRENGTH.

So today, I'm taking that picture that I've been too ashamed to show anybody, and I'm putting it on the damn internet, and saying... YOU MIGHT THINK I'M A 4, BUT MY BEAUTY CANNOT BE MEASURED ON YOUR MISOGYNISTIC-SEXIST SCALE. IT'S TOO BIG FOR THAT.

I'm not gonna lie, I had to look long and hard at this picture to see my beauty. It was hard for me to look past the cellulite on my thighs to see my gentle smile, my relaxed shoulders, and that smokin' hot pink bathing suit I'm wearing!

The longer I stared, the more I saw.

My dignity. My brave. My strength. My fierce. My happy. My kids. My beauty.

(Whoa... it makes me tear up just to read those words.)

And I can see YOU too.

Listen gals, the ONLY WAY we are going to start seeing ourselves as normal, is if we reclaim ourselves. If we say... NO WAY BUDDY, YOU WILL NOT TALK TO ME THAT WAY!

We cannot hide. We cannot sulk. We cannot forsake our collective power as women because we are afraid.

We must STAND UP and reclaim OUR BODIES. We must STAND UP to the rhetoric, and say NO MAS. We must STAND UP to the bullies and say, HERE I AM.

I just finished up the most recent round of Stasia's Style School, and I'm so incredibly proud to say that there are literally DOZENS more women in the world, STANDING UP and saying, I WILL NOT HIDE ANY LONGER.

(I love you SSS5 Style Sisters!!  You know who you are!)

Meet Jennifer, Style Sister (and total fire cracker of awesome) from the latest round of SSS, and read what she has to say about reclaiming HER body!

 
 

"Before Style School, my default clothing choices were all about trying to hide my “problem areas” by dressing in long tops and dark colors, basically trying to be invisible. After seeing my photos every day in Style School, it was so clear that trying to hide those areas just didn’t work – more often than not it actually emphasized what I was trying to hide! So, despite my great resistance to it, as a Style School experiment, and in that safe space with the Style Sisters, I gave up trying to hide. It’s been an amazing mental shift to give up dressing from a place of shame and hiding and instead moving into a place of celebrating what I love, and who I am on the inside. I feel so much brighter and lighter, and more engaged in the world – more confident. It’s like I let go of a burden that I didn’t even know I was carrying. It’s been a much deeper and more meaningful change than I would have ever expected. Style School is so much more than the usual style "guides" - Stasia gives us the tools and the safe space to learn how to figure out how to let our best selves shine, inside and out." Jennifer G.

Right now is the PERFECT time to RECLAIM YOU!

Put on your shorts and your mini skirts. FREE YOUR KNEES. And your arms. And your belly! 

How in hell are we EVER going to normalize ALL WOMEN'S BODIES, if every perceived imperfection under the sun is being covered up and hidden from sight??  

It starts with me. And with you. 

If the thought of it gives you heart palpitations. Good. Do it anyway. I'll be doing it alongside you!

xoxo Stasia

PS. If you're interested in signing up for the next round of  Stasia's Style School, click HERE to get your name on the list!  

How I Turned a Too-Tight Crewneck into a Cardigan

Do you know how to sew?? If you do, consider yourself lucky and madly skilled! If you don't... girl, I feel your frustration! I've always thought that because I didn't know how to wield a needle and thread, I couldn't alter my clothes. I thought a needle and thread was the ONLY way to make alternations, that is, until I started experimenting... with SCISSORS.

Do you remember when I turned my too-small-denim-jacket into a denim vest? If you missed that post, you can click HERE and see how easy it was.

And you KNOW I'm always cutting the necks out of my crewneck t-shirts!  Because let's be honest... crewneck t-shirts, in most cases, are not flattering.

Today I'm going to add to my scissor-alteration-repertoire, by showing you how I transformed a too-small J.Crew crewneck cashmere sweater into a cutie-pie-cardigan!

As you can SEE here, the sweater is a wee bit too small for me. Even when I'm perfectly still, my belly is peeking out from under the waistband, so you know that as soon as I move, that thing is gonna pop up like one of those suction-cup-poppers.

AND, the too-tight-crewneck really emphasizes my triangle body shape, making my hips look wide RELATIVE to my torso.

 
 

Since I picked up this sweater for FREE at a clothing swap, I figured I had nothing to lose by CUTTING IT IN HALF, to see how it would work as a cardigan!

So that's exactly what I did. With my son's $1 kid scissors.

 
 

WAY better, right?

And you know what, when I hand-washed the sweater, the cut-edge just rolled right in on itself.  It didn't fray, frizzle or fall apart.

Not only does the sweater fit my body better now that it's not so tight, but it also helps balance out my proportions! See how my hips look balanced with my torso?

If you've got a too-small tight-knit cashmere sweater sitting in your donation pile, try cutting it in half to see how it might work as a cardi!  I mean, you've got nothing to lose* by trying, right?

Now that I know how successful this little trick is, I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for honey-I-shrunk-the-cashmere sweaters at the thrift store!

And to be honest, I like the cut, raw edge better than I do buttons. It feels a little more gritty/creative/edgy, and I kinda like those feelings!

What do you think? Would you try this trick at home?

And can you do me a favor... LEAVE ME A COMMENT with YOUR favorite closet-hack! Maybe I'll try it at home, write all about it, and thank YOU for the inspiration!

xo Stasia

PS. Gals, this is just a little reminder that YOUR BODY IS NEVER THE PROBLEM. I was feeling wicked-hip-heavy in the crewneck sweater, but as soon as I cut it in half, and balanced out my proportions, my hips felt curvy and delicious!  Whoa, right!  If, for even one second, you wish your body were different than it is, then I'd suggest you consider signing up for the next round of Stasia's Style School, so you can put that nonsense behind you, and learn to appreciate and dress your body, just as it is!  

*Any alterations you make are done at your own risk. I shall not be held liable.

Is STYLE petty or superficial? Should it matter?

When I asked my Style Sisters from the January round of Stasia's Style School WHY they struggled with style, this is what they said...

"I try to emulate what others wear, but it doesn't reflect MY inner essence, so it's never quite right. I want a style that reflects MY personality."

"After the birth of my daughter and some serious weight gain, I was left wondering WHO AM I, and how in heck do I dress myself."

"I want to look in the mirror again, and like the person looking back."

"I feel like I have lost myself along the way (kids), and I'm ready to find out WHO I AM again."

"I've done a lot of heart and soul work in the last few years, and I want my outside to reflect my inside."

"I'm turning 60 this year, and I want my life to be about ME and MY choices, not what I think everyone else wants for me."

"I'm ready to stop hiding behind my clothes. I want my wardrobe to say THIS IS ME."

"I'm often frustrated of not BEING ME and not SHOWING UP."

"There is an identify confusion - WHO AM I?"

"How am I supposed to know what MY style is? It's easy to default to old clothes I've worn forever that no one will notice. But I'm sick of that. I'm sick of discomfort. I'm sick of feeling unsure of WHO I AM."

WHOA, right?

Any of that sound petty or superficial to you? Or is it the damn opposite? TRUTH, HONESTY and VULNERABILITY. Were you nodding along, saying yes YES, me too!

Listen, STYLE is NOT synonymous with "getting dressed". Getting dressed is an action. STYLE is a feeling.  It's a reflection of WHO YOU ARE on the inside. I call it Inside-Out Congruency, and if you ask me, it is the absolute foundation of style.

The most beautifully curated closet in the world will feel like a complete farce if it isn't a reflection of YOUR SOUL FIRE.

Fashion magazines have missed the boat on this one, perpetuating the myth that style happens on the outside. They teach you how to fit in, and ignore what it means to truly belong.

Let's look at my daughter, Raisa, for a minute, so we can truly understand the difference between "fitting in" and "belonging".

Raisa is a bowtie wearing, blazer sporting, pattern mixing little turkey that I couldn't imagine any other way. If she followed the conventional rules of what a girl is "supposed" to wear, then she'd be WAY off the mark. Sure, she'd "fit in" with the girls if she wore tunics and headbands, but in the process of fitting in, her soul would wilt, her confidence would tank, and she'd begin to question who she was.

But when she SHOWS UP like this, shoulders back, smile beaming, and eyes smiling... she let's you know exactly who in hell she is. No pretense. No shame. No HIDING.

And BECAUSE she said NO THANK YOU to fitting in... she knows what it means to BELONG.

To BELONG is to feel LOVED for WHO YOU ARE, not for who are are pretending to be.

The problem with conventional style is that it's too damn categorical. We feel like we have to choose.

Is my style Bohemian? Artsy? Preppy? Outdoorsy? Classic? Yogi?

What happens if you're an artist who's traveling the globe in her caravan, playing classical guitar along the way, stopping off to do some sailing in Cape Code, hiking in Vermont, and some downward-facing-dogs at the nearest Wanderlust venue?

What goes into your suitcase for the haughty jaunt! Talk about an IDENTITY CRISIS!

This was my struggle for just about my whole life. I was an international traveling, tree hugging, Times Square loving, Maine girl who loved sparkly things, my clothesline and that new-car-smell. WHAT? That doesn't make sense. So, I picked "outdoorsy and sensible" and suffocated in fleece and khakis for far too many years.

I used to think that MY ROLE and the THINGS I LOVED defined my style. Except it didn't, because I couldn't chose just one role and I loved too many things. Which made me feel like a complete style failure.

I became lost, and I felt like I didn't know WHO IN HELL I WAS.

And then things changed (you can read about that HERE), and I figured out that my approach to style was all wrong.

Here's what I want you to do...

  1. Ask yourself WHO AM I?  Grab a pen and paper and write write write until your fingers hurt. Come up with a list of words (NOT ROLES) that describe WHO YOU ARE.
  2. Take that list of words, and narrow it down to the top 5 words that suit you the best.
  3. Go to your closet, and see what you have that connects you to those words/feelings.

In other words, if one of your words was BRAVE, then go through your shirts, try them on, and see if any of them make you FEEL BRAVE. Try on your earrings, necklaces, boots, and headscarves, and ask yourself... DOES THIS MAKE ME FEEL BRAVE?

Do it over and over again. Find those things. Use your closet to help connect you to WHO YOU ARE.

It takes work. It takes practice. It takes motivation.

That's why I created Stasia's Style School. It is a framework from which to practice, with a built-in sisterhood of woman who are on the same journey. It is equal parts inspiration, motivation, and accountability. And there are lessons. OH THE LESSONS!!!

(Inside-Out Congruency is the foundation of style, but girl, you still have a body to dress!)

When you bear witness to another woman's stories and SEE her beauty, you will slowly begin to SEE your own beauty.

xo Stasia

PS. Here's a little BEFORE/AFTER testimonial from my gal, Jennifer!

"How do I put into words the freedom I have found in Stasia’s Style School? Because that is what it has been for me. Freedom from the comments and pushback of people around me, freedom from being a prisoner to my wardrobe, freedom from the negative cassette tape in my mind.  But most importantly, freedom to be exactly who I am, inside and out.

The other day I was scrolling through my pics from Style School and I thought to myself, "Wow! Look at me! I am radiant! I am even stunning!" I started to stop myself because hello! Am I that full of myself?? But no, that's not it. For just a moment I was able to see myself through soul eyes. The eyes each one of us has for one another.

My style sisters pushed me to be brave... and then braver! Thank you, Stasia, for creating this sacred space for us. It has been a glorious unveiling of some of the most beautiful and brave women I have ever met."

Jennifer, The Turquoise Tomatoe

#stylebymychild TURNS ONE!!

Hello! It just occurred to me that Raisa (my daughter) and I have been doing #styledbymychild on Instagram + Facebook for OVER A YEAR!!

That's right, for ONE WHOLE YEAR I have allowed Raisa free reign of my closet EVERY SINGLE MONDAY, to pick out my ENTIRE outfit, without a peep of rejection or resistance from me.

I used to think I had a pretty good handle on my closet... until #stylebymychild came along. In the past year, I've learned MORE about my body, my closet, my limiting beliefs, and my emotional attachment to STUFF than I would have EVER anticipated.

Imagine for a minute, giving YOUR child free reign of your closet, telling them their only task was to MAKE MAMA BEAUTIFUL. (No kids? How about your mother/sister/brother/partner/neighbor/BFF.) You sit back and watch, as your babe thoughtfully works his/her way through your clothes, shoes and accessories and picks out...

Wait. Let's STOP here for a minute, because I want to know what you're thinking.

A) Being #styledbymychild sounds like a GREAT IDEA, Stasia.  I'm totally going to do this!! B) Are you bananas? Hell no. NO WAY. Never.

I'm guessing that B (for BANANAS) is the resounding winner.

Which is precisely WHY I'm going to share with you the lessons I've learned in the past year that have made it ALL WORTH IT, because it hasn't ALL been pretty!

LESSON ONE. It's ok to LET GO of guilt.

Why in HECK do we have things in our closets that we don't like, want or need? You know... the orange blazer with the baggy boobie darts. The gold dress that is a static-cling-nightmare no matter how many times you try too de-static that thing. The black shoes that pinch your toes with every single step. The orange tights that you really really REALLY don't like but keep putting back in your damn drawer!!!

#styledbymychild
#styledbymychild

(Note the orange blazer with the baggie darts, the static-cling gold dress, the black shoes, and the orange tights! This is real life, yo.)

The answer... 50 SHADES OF freakin' GUILT.

"I SHOULD like it. I mean, I like it in my mind so I SHOULD just be happy with it, right?" "But it was expensive." "It was a gift." "I've gained so much weight, nothing else fits. I don't deserve to buy anything new." "My body is too short/tall, skinny/fat, wide/narrow." "It fits so I feel like I SHOULD like it."

I could write a blog post called 50 Shades of Guilt... because seriously, I have heard (and USED) at least 50 guilt ridden reasons why we hold on to stuff we don't like, want or need.

It's almost like there is a part of Raisa that is intuitively drawn to the stuff that I like the least. I moaned my way through those orange tights at least six times before I finally learned the lesson and let those things go, because "I SHOULD like them" has no place in my closet.

And it has no place in your closet either.

Pay attention to the rhetoric inside your head when you get dressed. If it's laced with 50 Shades of Guilt, listen to it, learn from it, and then let that shit go.

LESSON TWO.  It's OK to go a little wild.

I've worn some pretty wild closet concoctions in the past year! Things I would have NEVER worn in public otherwise...

#styledbymychild
#styledbymychild

And it's been AWESOME!

Being #styledbymychild has taught me that it's OK to push my own boundaries. To step outside of safety. To live on the edge!

It has helped me EXPAND and become MORE of myself.

When you step outside of your zone of safety, you will undoubtedly find a place that EXHILARATES and THRILLS. A place you might never have found without that little nudge.

LESSON THREE.  It's OK to be FANCY.

For some reason, we think we have to SAVE FANCY.

We think that feeling CONFIDENT, BOLD, CREATIVE, STRONG, and downright GLAMOROUS is something we have to save for special, and that our baseline should be frumpy, uninspiring and plain old boring.

#styledbymychild
#styledbymychild

No. WAY!

Being #styledbymychild has given me an excuse to wear my fancy on a Monday, and guess what? Nothing bad happened! In fact, GOOD happened. Because I felt good. And when I feel good I do good.

So now, you might find me being fancy... even on a Wednesday.

Here is what I KNOW to be true: 1. My body is BEAUTIFUL, just the way it is, so if something doesn't fit, I now it's the CLOTHES that are the problem. NOT MY BODY. 2. My clothes MUST be a reflection of who I am on the INSIDE. Just because they fit, does NOT mean they are right for me.

Those TWO THINGS right there, are the foundations of style. You MUST understand how to dress YOUR body and you MUST be able to answer the question WHO AM I AT MY CORE, without reservation.

Style is fluid, NOT static. As you grow, and become more of who you are, your style will inevitably shift. That's why what worked 6 months ago, might not work now. That's why you might think you like something, but realize that it no longer suits you.

Being #styledbymychild keeps me on my toes, but YOU don't need to be #styledbyYOURchild to learn and implement these basic, but very profound, lessons.

That's what Stasia's Style School is for.  ;)

Where are YOU at with style? Do you think your BODY is the problem? Do you know what it means to dress your INSIDE on the OUTSIDE? Why do you struggle?

Leave a comment and tell me your number one hang-up, and I PROMISE PROMISE PROMISE to get back to you!

Love, Stasia

When Tweaks are not Enough, it's time for Transformation.

I'm going to say it again...

"When tweaks are not enough, it's time for TRANSFORMATION."
Saul Kaplan, Business Innovation Factory

Communities. Government. Business. Education.

Yea, of course. But what about STYLE?

I know a lot of you are stuck in tweak-phase. Making little adjustments here and there. Trying to shop, but getting frustrated because you're not sure WHAT in heck to buy.

Another pair of earrings? A new shade of red lipstick? A denim jacket?

You've done tons of tweaking, but you STILL feel like your clothes don't represent your YOU-NESS.

You're still not happy with your body. You're focusing on your growing belly, your mama-stretch-marks and the cellulite on your thighs.

BRAVE... that is something you know is INSIDE you, but right now, you're feeling kind of like a whimpy-pants.

There comes a point when you've got to STOP TWEAKING & START TRANSFORMING.

As far as I see it, you need at least THREE THINGS in your pocket:

Inside-Out Congruency, Body Confidence, Bravery

Unless you have all three of those things, tweaks aren't gonna do you diddly.

Tweaks happen on the outside. Transformation happens on the INSIDE!

Let me show you what I mean...

 
 

Ack!

Right before my husband and I left left for the Peace Corps, we did a photo shoot with a local photographer, and THIS IS WHAT I WORE.

ON A PHOTO SHOOT!!!

I didn't have a CLUE about Inside-Out Congruency at the time, and this outfit is testament to that. It in NO WAY reflected my SOUL-FIRE!

That thing that I was doing there... trying to hide my hips and thighs because I was ashamed of my body - NOT WORKING!!

And you see those curved-in, lacking-confidence shoulders? Though I was doing something BRAVE (joining the Peace Corps) I wasn't feeling the POWER of my decision. I approached big change with a little bit of grit... and HUGE amount of trepidation.

STYLE is something I LEARNED.

I spent years tweaking, trying on different kinds of oversized drawstring pants and hippy pendants. And like a true science-gal (my background is in Ecology) I realized a new methodology was needed.

So I invented one, and things changed.

 
 
 
 

Seeing my own BEFORE + AFTER pictures still blows my mind. The "before" feelings, when I remember them, hit me hard right in the gut. I remember...

  • the frustration and disappointment when I looked at my body in the mirror
  • the sadness and defeat that would overwhelm me when I HAD to go shopping
  • the blow-down fights I'd have with my closet each morning
  • the feeling that I was a freakin' style disaster, no matter how many tweaks I made
  • and constantly feeling misunderstood

Here's a side-by-side, to bring it all home.

Believe it or not... I was around 15 pounds lighter in the BEFORE picture.

HIDING DOES NOT WORK!!

THIS is why I started Stasia's Style School.

And this is PRECISELY WHY Style School is not about TWEAKS... it's about TRANSFORMATION.

And it works.

During the last round of SSS, TRANSFORMATION was the name of the game.

One of our #stylesisters, Michelle, transformed into a mighty force right before our very eyes, and it was A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

 
 

Though the pictures of Michelle speak for themselves, I think you need to hear from her directly:

"If I’m really being honest, when I look at these photos, I just see the before side. And I cringe. Seriously. The hair. It’s all I see. Realistically I know you’re looking at both photos... and I’m pretty much hoping you’re looking at the after side far more. So, I’m sitting here trying to get over myself and not dwell on the fact that I’m letting the whole world see something completely unflattering. Nothing like testing my capacity to be real!

What you see when you look at the photos is clothing changes and a new haircut. But the transformation is much bigger than that. You might see it in my eyes and smile. It was soul deep. It’s lessons learned about who I am. About what I was and what I no longer choose to be. It’s about bravery and laughter in the deepest parts. And it’s about community, confidence and caring – both about others and myself.

Wait, you didn’t think Style School could do all that? Well, neither did I. It was the best investment I've made in myself in a long, long time. I’m not sure I could say Style School changed my life. But it did transform me. And I’m the author of that life."

So let me ask you... are YOU ready for TRANSFORMATION?

UPDATE:  The winter 2016 of Stasia's Style School SOLD OUT in 24 hours. Keep your eyes peeled for the spring 2016 launch! 

It's time to WEAR YOUR SHINE.

xo Stasia