Dare to Wear: Designer Lauren Conrad Sounds Off Against Body-Shaming
News The iconic designer talks unfair criticism, the power of positivity and dissolving stigma.
Mediaplanet: What was the motivation behind banning body-shaming language on your website?
Lauren Conrad: When I was thinking about the post, I knew that I wanted the approach to fitness to focus on overall health rather than physical appearance. Everyone's body is different, so making "thin" or "skinny" the end goal of eating better or working out didn't make much sense to me. On my website, we have always encouraged a healthy lifestyle, but having confidence and feeling good about yourself is also so important.
MP: How has the media and popular culture affected our view of an ideal body type?
LC: The media is always going to create unrealistic expectations. They will shoot an already lovely girl and after thousands of dollars are spent on hair, make-up, styling, lighting and then selecting the best angles, they retouch any visible flaw. Then, a weekly magazine will post an un-retouched photo of that same girl in a bikini, and people rip her apart for not looking perfect. We might be lacking a happy medium.
MP: Why should people focus on their health and being fit, more so than the number on the scale?
LC: Your health affects your whole life. Everything from your energy and mood to your skin and hair is affected by how well you are taking care of yourself. I've found that when I started focusing less on my size and more on being active and eating clean, I felt better all around.
MP: People do not realize body shaming affects women and men of all shapes and sizes. Why do youthink people do not typically realize these words may be offensive or hurtful as well?
"Focus on the things about yourself that you do like," Conrad suggests. "We all can find things about ourselves that we like and are proud of."
LC: I've seen women of all sizes unfairly criticized. I think often times we associate body shaming with being a larger size, but people are just as brutal to woman who may be underweight. Calling someone too "skinny" is just as hurtful as calling someone too "fat." At the end of the day making someone feel bad about their body isn't right.
MP: How do we as a society move towards accepting, as well as celebrating, all body types?
LC: I think, like any other social change, it will happen one person at a time. Once we stop engaging in shaming, it will stop being acceptable.
MP: What’s your advice to anyone that may be struggling with self-criticism?
LC: The best way to deal with being self-conscious is to focus on the things about yourself that you do like. And we all can, and should, be able to find things about ourselves that we like and are proud of.
MP: What do you think are characteristics to being a successful businesswoman?
LC: I think it's important to feel passionate about your career. Even dream jobs have tough days and require a lot of hard work. It's that love for what you do that keeps you going when you need an extra push.
MP: Starting any business obviously has its ups and downs. What were the setbacks you faced when building your brand?
LC: I've had a million setbacks, both big and small, while starting businesses. I think it's important to keep a bigger picture in mind when you are starting out. Plan on some things going wrong, and use the lessons that you learn as your business grows. Honestly, it's always best to make your mistakes early on, when the stakes are lower.
MP: You’ve talked about how you’ve faced scrutiny being taken seriously as an entrepreneur. What advice do you have for aspiring businesswomen to tackle obstacles they may face?
LC: Use it. Nothing is more motivating than a challenge. People don't think you have what it takes? Why not prove them wrong?