By Ashley McAdams
Over the last five years, Stacy London lost her beloved father, had debilitating spine surgery, and took to the bed overcome with grief and depression. But the What Not To Wear host is thankfully on the up and up.
Her recent 50th birthday was marked with some serious life changes: She came out with girlfriend Cat Yezbak and made some major pivots professionally – launching a new business and a podcast, both of which are brilliantly aligned to who she really is as a person.
“My 50’s aren’t going to be the best decade of my life, but they’re going to be the most enlightening. This transition has been the hardest and the one where I’ve been the least kind to myself so far. I’m eager to get back to a lighter, warmer place, surrounded by people with positive energy. My new podcast, my new business, these are all extensions of this new evolution I’m experiencing.”
She’s super-excited about her new concierge gifting business, Small Beautiful Things, with Cat: “I’ve been collecting objects since I was a little girl – it’s always been my thing. I love the hunt that goes along with finding a special vintage piece. The art of gift-giving has gotten lost in the world of Amazon gift cards, so it felt like the perfect time to launch this.”
Read on for some serious realness about accepting how you look, what you do, and who you love from the uber-inspiring Stacy London.
Love Is Love
I met Cat Yezbak when I was taking care of my sick father. We met through friends, who told her my dad was sick, and she started checking on me regularly. Because she was traveling, it started out as just wonderful conversations, but when she returned and we started hanging out, I knew pretty much immediately that it wasn’t just going to be a friendship. We had this real connection. She showed me lightness during the darkest time in my life. She saw me go through a lot and was still happy to be here – she’s an extraordinary human. I’ve dated men my whole life, so it was a surprise that I would be so happy dating a woman. It’s just proof that your heart decides who you love.
Coming Out Publicly
I wanted to give us some privacy for a while, but I also felt this huge responsibility to the LGBTQIAP community to acknowledge our relationship publicly. I was definitely nervous about it, as I didn’t want it to be perceived as attention-seeking or to offend the community. My approach was to just be sincere, and I was thrilled when Out and The Advocate responded positively to the news.
Embracing Social Media
I’m 50. Social media isn’t a natural form of communication for me, but I appreciate that the younger generations have given us the opportunity and platform to be more honest and open. It was such an extraordinary relief to talk about my depression, and I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. There were 2,000 comments and strangers sharing their own issues and experiences.
I strongly believe in intergenerational mentorship. I learn more from 25-year-olds than I ever thought possible. We absolutely need younger people to guide us through the future. That said, the wisdom and experience I have from the sheer number of days I’ve spent on the planet shouldn’t be disregarded. I want to be a mentor for young women navigating broken relationships for the first time, or losing a job, or simply losing one’s way. I’ve been there. I can relate. We need to find a way to bridge the generations.
Talking The Talk
I just launched a podcast, Could Be Better, TBH, dedicated to shining a light on mental illness and taking the stigma out of the conversation. It’s a collaboration with the JED Foundation and the Crisis Text Line, two organizations working to save the lives of young people and support their mental health journeys.
I think 40 was my favorite age. I started What Not To Wear in my 30s, and that decade was mostly about the show. Being on TV and shooting new episodes every week motivated me to make good food choices and exercise regularly. At 40, I felt completely in control and at the apex of my career, doing shows (The Today Show, OWN, Access Hollywood, Love Lust or Run) and endorsements (Pantene, Dr. Scholl’s, Woolite, Riders by Lee). Ten years later, I don’t have the pressure of being in the public eye every day. My health choices have been more lax because of that. I’m going through menopause (cue the memory fog and weight gain). Finding your place at 50 is hard. Not impossible but definitely the most difficult decade thus far. I’m hoping that this can be the one in which I settle into aging with more ease and enthusiasm so that by the time I’m 60, I’m really raring to go.
Losing my dad was like losing the rock I’ve had my whole life. It made me feel like I was six-years-old, lost in the supermarket and couldn’t get out. I have wonderful friends and family, but grief isolates you. Talking about it doesn’t make it better. You dont get past grief, you live alongside it. There are a few things that helped me:
- There’s a great TED talk by Nora McInerny (ignore her red lipstick and wrong shoe choice).
- The book Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande, guided me on how to protect my dad’s dignity while he was sick.
- The day after my dad passed, a friend left The Comfy, a pair of cozy socks, and a note that said ‘You’re going to need this.’ at my door. I didn’t get out of it for a week. I can’t explain how important tactile things become.
- Weighted blankets are also great. I knew they were good for insomnia and anxiety, but they really have a place when it comes to grief. Anything that gives you a sense of safety is so important.
The Weight Struggle Is Real
I look in the mirror and don’t recognize myself. I’ve gained 25 pounds. I stopped caring for myself while taking care of my dad. The six weeks after he died, I ate a party size bag (two pounds!) of Caramel M&Ms every. single. day. They are so heavy: I put a bowl of them out once, and a friend ate one and said, ‘Well that was a meal.’.
They went with me everywhere, including a fancy Paris hotel I stayed at for a styling job. I woke up sobbing and missing my father one night and grabbed the bag. I woke up with M&M stains all over the sheets and my face – it was a massacre! I’m probably banned from that hotel forever.
I’m currently in the process of remembering what it means to take care of myself. I have terrible insomnia – lucky if I get 4-5 hours of sleep a night. That takes its toll. I don’t eat gluten, dairy, or soy because I have a lot of autoimmune diseases, but I do drink alcohol and eat sugar. Moderation is NOT my thing, but I’m working on it!
Gee, Her Skin Looks Terrific
I’ve had psoriasis since I was four. At one point, my whole body was covered in scales. Somehow, I never had it on my face, so I’ve always been super vigilant about taking care of my skin. I try not to stay with the same product for too long because your skin gets used to it, so I’m always switching up cleansers, serums, and moisturizers. My nighttime ritual can have up to 11 steps. I’ve had more than one significant other tell me to videotape it because it's so entertaining!
No one on IG looks in real life the way they look on there. There are so few unfiltered raw pictures anymore. I’m so afraid we’re losing our ability to love ourselves as we are. Use all the beauty products you like and have all the cosmetic work you want, as long as what you’re attempting is to be the best version of yourself and not the ideal of another generation.
This Is Not An Ad
I swear by Iris & Romeo foundation. I’ve never worn foundation because I think it makes you look old, and I hate looking matte. A friend sent me this product, and I asked my makeup artist to try it while prepping me for an event. We were gasping. My skin looked fresh, dewy, and still like my own. It was just the right tone and felt like I was wearing nothing. I’m terrible at doing my own makeup, so to have a product that takes the guesswork out for me is remarkable.
A Hairy Situation
Everybody thinks I dye the rest of my hair and keep the gray streaks – not true at all! They are totally natural and are getting bigger and bigger. I can’t wait to have all white/silver hair. That’s dope looking.
To me, your environment is like an outfit: It should say something about who you are. My new business Small Beautiful Things is all about finding vintage, covetable items that feel like the sprinkles on the sundae of your home – something shiny and fun that makes a statement. Finding these special pieces requires work, thought, and energy – that’s what I love. It’s a side hustle right now, but we want to start doing immersive shopping experiences. We did one where we took over a penthouse that felt very Auntie Mame meets Grey Gardens and decorated the entire place with items that fit the vibe – everything was available to purchase.
I’m not completely convinced that TV is done for me. I’m not sure if that’s on-camera, producing, or both. And I have so much to say, there’s at least one more book in me. A lot of what I’ve tackled in the last 5 years has been really tough stuff, and I’ve been really earnest about it all. I’ve lost a bit of the light, and I want to let it back in. Even sad things can be discussed with a certain amount of humor.
It was such an honor to be a Pantene spokeswoman. I struggled with psoriasis all my life and never thought I would be in a beauty campaign. It was a remarkable feeling for me, not out of the vanity but out of the “every woman” aspect of it. Women don’t want to be bullshitted, and P&G very much got that. They didn’t add extensions or dye my gray streak. I was so flattered.
The surgeries and losses I’ve endured over the last five years have caused a lot of identity confusion for me. Who am I? has become a really significant question: Who am I when I don’t look like me? Who am I when I’m dating a woman? I’ve mourned the loss of my younger self, and I’m finally feeling a shift.
For me, turning 50 requires real tenacity to allow changes to happen and not fight them. It’s about tightening my support system and relying on myself more. I’m looking forward to going back and learning things I was too scared or embarrassed to learn before. I failed algebra. I would love to go take an algebra class. I never learned to swim really well. I never did things I wasn’t already good at and missed out on stuff because of it.
thanks for that authentic share. i loved you on the show for your moxy and humor. this transition you is super inspiring. i havecworked with people in transformative healing for 30 years and i dig seeing the process in humans. thx! you’re amazing. 👌
I am so thankful for u telling bout all your troubles so to speak cause it made u more real an not just Hollywood. I lost my mom n 2009 an still struggle with it today. I have depression an am overweight I struggle with being fat all the time. Some days I feel suck it up buttercup. An other days I look n the mirror an say own it, no matter what people say.
I live in St Louis, so I dont know how much help I can be, but I can give you some pointers on swimming and algebra if you want? My email is above and my instagram name is tricia_aurora
I’d really like to help in anyway I can. You’ve done so much for the world and deserve it! 😊
What a wonderful article! Love how real and open you are…thank you for sharing some very personal thoughts that more people than I’m sure you can even imagine are having. Women are so inspiring and you are no exception. That fog of depression after losing a loved one, especially around the time of menopause is an ever present threat that tries to infiltrate our daily lives and we have to learn to dispel the fog. It’s not easy….using your voice on social platforms to normalize what we are feeling is so helpful.