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Using Fashion to Help You Feel Comfortable and Confident in Your Own Skin with Nicole Garfunkel

3 Things We Dive Into In This Episode:

  1. Tools for/the process of cultivating body neutrality and acceptance and the freedom that comes when you find acceptance for your body.

  2. Plastic surgery as a trend and the effect it has on mental and physical health.

  3. Tips on how to make your shopping experience more empowering and enjoyable.


📌Episode Highlights

[07:18] Nicole is…

  • Nicole is always searching for more in life. She won’t settle for what others expect of her.

  • Nicole’s focus is on helping women transform their lives using fashion. Fashion can unlock the inner confidence everyone has inside.

  • At the age of 16, Nicole was diagnosed with PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome. The side effects that impacted her the most were weight gain, acne, and hair growing in random places like on her chin.

  • Weight gain was the hardest thing for her to come to terms with and deal with.

[09:42] Nicole’s Experience Post-Diagnosis

  • Nicole used her love of fashion to hide her body rather than celebrate it.

  • She compared herself even more to her mom and sister who are both very thin.

  • Masking her body with fashion didn’t make her feel any better – it instead did quite the opposite.

  • Nicole tried to stay “unseen”.

Nicole: “During that time I started to rely on my love of fashion in a way that was really detrimental to my mental health. So instead of using it as a way to express myself and to show who I am, I used it as a way to conceal not only my physical body but like the true essence of my being.”

[13:56] The Mindset Shift

  • During the covid pandemic, Nicole loved lounging around in her workout clothes… until she realized it was making her too ‘chill’ in all aspects of life, including work.

  • After she became aware that being in workout clothes all the time was making her less motivated, she decided to start getting dressed even though she wasn’t going anywhere.

Nicole: “If I'm wearing jeans I just feel like it changes my brain chemistry a little and it's like, okay, you're switching from comfort into work mode.”

  • Part of the treatment for PCOS is dieting, and this part of Nicole’s journey was agonizing. She hated worrying about what she was eating or eating something different than everyone else.

  • Nicole finally said “f*ck this” to dieting.

  • This is the moment she finally felt free.

Nicole: “It doesn't matter what my body looks like anymore because I don't care. I accept the way that I look now and that is such a powerful thing.”

[19:15] Reclaiming Her Love of Fashion

  • Accepting her body as-is allowed Nicole to rekindle her love of fashion.

  • Nicole started to find clothes that fit her body properly.

Nicole: “When you have things that fit you, you feel like you can take on the world and it's such a little thing but it can be life-changing.”

[21:40] Shopping Advice

  • No one likes to hear this, but it takes a lot of trial and error. Brands have different sizing so it’s all about finding what fits.

  • After many, many tears shed in fitting rooms, Nicole has found the best way for her to shop is online. She orders a few sizes and then is able to try things on in her ideal environment.

  • You find the best environment for yourself to try on clothes.

  • Surround yourself with supportive people, or no one at all.

  • Through trial and error you’ll figure out what styles and brands you and your body like best.

  • Tailoring is another option. It can be an investment, but it is also a way to get clothes that fit your body. Order one size bigger and then have it altered.

  • If you’re going to the mall, eat before you go so you don’t get hangry. Map out the stores you want to visit. Give yourself a little self-care before you go by brushing and styling your hair, or putting on a little makeup.

  • In all, do whatever you need before your trip to look at yourself in a more positive light – that will give you the best experience possible.

Caitie: “It is so important to have clothes that fit your here-and-now body, not the body that you want to have, not the body that you used to have, but finding clothing that fits your here-and-now body is such an important part of body acceptance and letting go of body avoidance and really feeling at peace with yourself.”

Nicole: “Get it tailored. You can't even imagine how much better you'll feel just like knowing that you have that thing that is literally custom to your body.”

[27:08] Eating and PCOS

  • When Caitie and Nicole were living in the East Village, Nicole decided to say “f*ck it” to all the diets and different ways of eating that were recommended for women living with PCOS.

  • She started following Caitie’s intuitive eating framework which became the best healthy decision she’s ever made.

  • When you restrict what you eat, you’re stressing out your body and probably doing more harm than good.

Nicole: “I started to incorporate the intuitive eating framework that Caitie talks about all the time, which is such a powerful thing. And I still go by that today and it was the best decision I ever made for my health ever.”

[29:41] The Fashion World is Moving Backward

  • Caitie and Nicole discuss an article recently published in the New York Post about the latest trend for bodies and body image.

  • Even though fashion has recently begun to include larger and curvy bodies, it’s not exactly what it appears to be.

  • Big fashion houses custom create a skirt or an outfit for a larger model and a photo shoot. However, Nicole shares, “they have zero intention of making it for the average consumer.”

  • Plastic surgery has taken the place of dieting drugs from back in the day. This is now the new beauty standard.

[41:15] Plastic Surgery

  • Everyone sees the “after” of plastic surgery, but very rarely do we get an inside look at the impacts it has on your mental and physical health.

  • Nicole chose to have plastic surgery to reduce her breast size. Choosing to do this for yourself (as opposed to doing it because everyone else is) can be a very powerful experience.

  • Having this surgery gave her first-hand experience of what recovery truly looks and feels like. You go into fight or flight mode because your body is healing from being cut open.

  • Nicole contributes a lot of her healing to her therapist. If your body isn’t functioning as it normally does, your nervous system is under stress and you can fall into a dark place.

Caitie: “It really does wreak havoc on your nervous system and your ability to communicate with your body and hear what your body is saying.”

[42:30] Fashion as a Tool

  • First and foremost, dress for yourself and not for other people. Figure out what you like to wear regardless of what is trendy or what other people like.

  • Create a bit of an embodiment routine around choosing what you want to wear and getting dressed. This bridges the gap between fashion and wellness.

  • Fashion is so much about how you want to feel and the vibe you want to give off to others.

  • Nicole supports repeating outfits and they should cater to your lifestyle.

  • Fashion is intuitive.

[47:52] Nicole’s (not morning) Routine

  • Nicole is not a morning person at all, so it is very down-to-business at that time of day.

  • The first thing she does in the morning is make her bed - win! She also has coffee and gets dressed.

  • Every day is different, but when she does have time, Nicole will light a candle or put on some music while she gets dressed.

  • The evening is when she feels into her feminine energy. These days, it’s by wearing sexy matching pajama sets.

  • Depending on her mood, sometimes she calls a friend, and other times she blasts music and dances around her place.

  • To wind down, she lights candles and turns on her galaxy light.

[53:34] This Week’s Processing Prompt

  • Ask yourself: what is my relationship with fashion? Am I using it to avoid my body? Do I use fashion to embody myself? Do I use it to set the tone for how I want to be seen by others?

  • Actionable experiment: create a routine or practice around getting dressed. Lean into how you want to feel and what you’re expressing as you move through your routine of getting dressed and ready for your day.

  • This can add just one minute to your routine. Let it be intuitive and flow as a form of self-care.

About Nicole

Nicole Garfunkel is a stylist, image consultant, and the creator of Styling Confidential, a space for women to step into their power, using personal style as a tool to heal body image and insecurity.

Visit her website Styling Confidential and Instagram for inspiration and empowerment.

Connect with Nicole: Website | Instagram

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Nicole Garfunkel: I stopped doing all these crazy diets that doctors would prescribe, but I stopped really like leaning on diets to try to like change my body and really just like was like, okay, this is what it is, and that's okay.

Caitie Corradino: Welcome to Whole, Full, & Alive, a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story, and with who you truly are underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. I'm Caitie Corradino, a registered dietician nutritionist, certified fitness and yoga instructor, eating disorder recovery coach, Reiki healer, and founder of Full Soul Nutrition. But underneath my titles and resume, I'm a big fan of kitchen dance breaks, early mornings, all things topped with truffles, world, traveling, and serendipity. I'm here to share no bullsh!t stories and actionable tools to help you feel unshakably worthy. You have everything you need within you to feel whole, full, and alive right here, right now. Let's get into it.

Caitie: Hey, welcome back to another episode of Whole, Full, & Alive. If things are going as planned, this is the first episode of 2023. If things are going a little off schedule, this is probably only the second episode of 2023. Either way, we are freshly in the new year and I wanna invite you to check in with yourself. How are you feeling at the start of this new year and how do you want to feel as we continue into this new year? I am big on trading in resolutions for intentions. I don't like this concept of the resolution because I think it promotes this idea that you’re a problem to be resolved or that your body's a problem to be resolved or your life is a problem to be resolved. You need a resolution. And I think what we actually can all benefit from is intention.

Caitie: And I've said this on the pod before, but I always try to choose one word that I want to embody or kind of like make the theme of my year, something that I wanna like call in for the year ahead and if that resonates with you, I invite you to maybe sit with that. What is one word that you wanna make your theme for this year? So with that, let's take a deep breath. If you can try to take it in through your nose and if you can exhale through your nose too. Do that one more time and make the exhale a little bit longer this time to really promote that regulating effect. So nice deep breath in and exhale.

Caitie: Okay, so let's dive into today's episode. It's an incredibly special episode. On today's episode, I will be interviewing Nicole Garfunkel. She is one of the most special humans in my life, but before I tell you about my personal relationship with her, let me tell you that she is a stylist and an image consultant. She is an expert in all things fashion and creating your personal style. She also is pretty d@mn good at designing and styling websites and branding and things like that. And Nicole is also a former client in my group coaching program and she's one of the people who has been a part of my group coaching cohorts and has provided a beautiful testimonial on it. And after she finished the group coaching program, she actually became a guest coach for the Whole, Full, & Alive Toolkit, which you can buy now at It's a great accompaniment to this podcast and Nicole is one of the guest coaches on there and she provides an amazing module related to using fashion as a personal empowerment tool.

Caitie: So Nicole today is going to talk openly about how she has navigated her own relationship with fashion and with her body and how she has learned to use clothing and fashion as a way to feel more confident, more empowered, and more like herself. Nicole also opens up really beautifully about her experience with her body changing after a diagnosis of P C O S when she was in high school and how she navigated those changes in her body and how that kind of altered and shifted her relationship with fashion. And also, Nicole talks about her experience with plastic surgery, which I'm really grateful for. She opens up about this in such a candid way and we're able to have a conversation about bodies in the media. And all of this, as you can see, really just relates to fashion and bodies and body image as a whole.

Caitie: This is a really great episode. We go in so many different directions, but ultimately come back to this main theme of how you can feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin using fashion as a tool and you can heal your relationship with your body through a sense of gentle, compassionate body acceptance. And like I said, in addition to Nicole being a personal stylist and image consultant, a designer, and a guest coach in the Whole, Full, & Alive Toolkit, she is one of the greatest friends I have ever had. And as I'm talking right now, I'm like, I need to do an episode just on like friendship. She is truly one of those friends that has just been such a constant in my life. Sometimes my anxious mind takes off like a racehorse and tells me that I have no constants in my life because I am a single 20-something living on my own out in Denver, Colorado. And I'm like, everything's always changed and whatever and but Nicole is a constant, she has been such a constant in my life since we were 12 and I'm so grateful for her, and I'm so grateful for you to hear her voice today. So let's get into it.

Caitie: Nicole, thank you so much for being here today. This is a long-anticipated interview and I'm very excited about it.

Nicole: Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here, especially as a loyal podcast listener.

Caitie: So to kick us off, can you please tell everyone who are you, which is different from what you do, who are you in the world?

Nicole: Yeah, so I've thought about this because like I said, I am a loyal listener and I, know you always ask this question. So I am someone who is just like searching for more in life. I feel like especially in the past few years of my life, I have decided not to like settle and not to do things that are maybe more conventional and what people have expected of me. So in the past few years, I've left the relationship that was quote unquote good. I have decided that I am moving across the country and I am flipping my career on its head. So a lot of big changes happening and I think that it's really important, at least for me, just like one of my values is to like not settle for like what is expected of me. So that's the like ethereal version of who I am. But in terms of like what I do, I am a stylist, an image consultant, who's really focused on really helping women transform their lives by using fashion as a way to unlock their inner confidence that I know that they all have.

Caitie: So good, so good. Searching for more and flipping everything upside down. These are the things that we are all about on the Whole, Full, & Alive podcast. So can you share a little bit about a challenge that you've overcome in your life that brought you to this place in your life where you're not only searching for more but also are providing styling services and image consulting for people? How did you get there? What did you have to go through?

Nicole: Yeah, so I guess I should really start by saying that fashion has always been like a huge part of my life and I've always known that I've wanted to work in the fashion industry like from the time I was like age five, which is kind of crazy. But the thing is my relationship with fashion has changed a lot throughout my life and honestly it's still changing every single day, but it changed the most for me in high school when I was 16. I was diagnosed with P C O S, which for people who are not familiar is polycystic ovarian syndrome. And there's a lot of different side effects that come along with this and everyone kind of experiences like a different amount of these side effects. But the ones that impacted me pretty severely were like weight gain, acne, like hair growing in like random places on your body, like on your chin for example.

And the weight gain was really a very challenging part of my adolescence. And it's not that I wasn't like big before, I'm a tall person, I'm like five 10. So I've always been like the tall person in the room, especially like among women and like growing up, like being the tall person is something that people always comment on and I was like always very insecure about that, especially like around boys too, because when you're like a young girl, like you don't wanna be larger than boys. Like it really just like changes the way that you feel about yourself and the way that you walk through the world. So there was that. And also my mom and my sister are very thin. Like they're both size zero and I am not size zero. So comparing myself to them too has always kind of impacted the way that I see my body.

But it really came to a head when I started gaining like an excessive amount of weight. And during that time I started to rely on my love of fashion in a way that was really detrimental to my mental health. So instead of using it as a way to express myself and to show who I am, I used it as a way to conceal not only my physical body but like the true essence of my being. And at the time I really thought that by doing this I was gonna make myself feel better. Like I thought this was it, like this is gonna change the way I feel about myself and everything's gonna be fine even though I'm not super comfortable in my body, like this is gonna fix it. And boy was I wrong. It really didn't do anything to help me. It really made it worse.

It made me feel extra bad about myself and it, the reason I was doing it was to just stay unseen and that's just like a horrible feeling to have, right? So once I like kind of started to grapple with like my body size and I will say my body size has changed, it changes all the time. You know this, you'd preach us to your clients too. Like your body's just changing all the time, right? So my body was not the same as it was when I was 16 once I was like in college. And at that time I was just starting to, you know, like accept where I was at with my body. I stopped doing all these crazy diets that doctors would prescribe as a treatment for P C O S, which is a whole other conversation that I could go on a tangent about, but I won't.

But I stopped really like leaning on diets to try to like change my body and really just like was like, okay, this is what it is and that's okay, it's not perfect, it never will be perfect, but that's all right. I'm going to start dressing myself in a way that I want to in a way that feels good. And as soon as I started doing that, I just felt so much better about myself. I could feel the switch happening, I could feel that I was so much more confident in myself and I started to love my body even more as a result of this change. So that's kind of how I like really determined that I wanna help people in this way too because it is really hard to like grapple with your body and to not only dislike your body but then like to have to figure out ways to dress it is just like so difficult because it's really hard to find clothes that fit. Every brand has different sizing. Like you could be a size zero at one store and then a size 12 at another and it's like kind of ridiculous. So shopping is really hard and I find that especially when people don't enjoy it, they really have a hard time dressing theirselves and they're just not using fashion as the powerful tool that like I think that it is.

Caitie: So what was that turning point for you? What was the turning point where you recognized, okay, I don't need to use my knowledge and love of fashion as a tool to conceal myself, I can use my knowledge and love of fashion as a tool to empower myself. Can you remember like some specific moments or some specific outfits or things that kind of helped you feel that shift and when did you know you had really pivoted into using it as an empowerment tool rather than using it as this like secret weapon to hide yourself?

Nicole: Yeah. The moment that sticks out for me actually is like during the Covid Pandemic. I remember, you know, we were all in this phase of just like wearing workout clothes all the time, which was nice. It was a, a departure from like regular life and we all just wanted to be really comfortable and it suited us for that time. But I found myself really like sliding into like laziness and like being like a little too chill. And I felt it kind of impacting the way that I felt about myself impacting my relationships, but also impacting my work performance as well. Like I felt a lot less motivated at work. So that's kind of when I decided that instead of wearing my workout clothes every single day at home, I was going to start putting on regular clothes even though I was not leaving the house at all.

And I'm not saying put on your prom dress or like put on like a crazy designer item. I'm just saying like changing out of your like pajamas into like for me it's jeans, like if I'm wearing jeans I just feel like it changes my brain chemistry a little and it's like, okay, you're switching from like comfort into work mode. Mm-hmm. And you can do that for any sort of, any sort of situation really. Like if you're going on a date for example, like switching from like your casual jeans to maybe like a leather pant or something that you deem like sexy or like more sensual can really change the way that you are perceived in the world and the way that you are like showing people who you are. So I would say yeah, only a few years ago I started doing this consciously, but I think for a bit before that I, I, I kind of knew but I didn't really have the like aha, like this is a tool that we could use and like really tap into.

Caitie: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I, I feel you on this so I'm not gonna pretend that like we didn't grow up together. We like totally did. Nicole and I went to high school together so we grew up parallel, like since we were 12. But we were very close and I feel this is kind of clicking with me just now that I had the same relationship with exercise that you have with fashion. So for a long time I used exercise as a tool to bandage my horrible body image anxiety and exercise, and over exercising to a point was the only thing that gave me the sense of like relief from body image anxiety and from anxiety in general. And over the course of my life, I've been able to reclaim exercise and use it as an empowerment tool, a tool to feel more myself, a tool to feel more present, a tool to feel in my body.

And I see you doing the same exact thing with fashion. And you're right, there wasn't necessarily like 1 point, 1 moment where I was just like, I've completely transformed my relationship with exercise here we are more consciously now as I'm like talking on a podcast every single day I can like start to put words to it and really understand how I use it as an empowerment tool more consciously rather than as a compensatory tool or a bandage for anxiety. But yeah, what were like those little breadcrumbs along the way because I think for sure long before covid, long before you put words to it, there was definitely things you were doing like in college and post-college that were really helping you reclaim fashion and also accept your body. And with that I invite you to sprinkle in more things about P C O S because there are a lot of people who listen to this podcast with P C O S and I know have had that experience of just like needing to navigate all those symptoms.

Nicole: Yeah, I mean that's a big question. So I guess when I first started to realize that I was like reclaiming fashion was honestly when I kind of like, I don't wanna say this is right for everyone because everyone obviously is so different. But with my P C O S, I kind of was just like f*ck it. Like f*ck this. Mm-hmm because like I was saying before, the way that they treat it is birth control and dieting. Okay. So I've tried every single diet that you could name and the kind of bringing it back to like what I was saying about like having a different body type to your family. Like I have these visceral memories of eating these like disgusting frozen Jenny Craig meals at the dinner table with my family while they're eating like regular food. Mm. So I think that a big part of my P C O S journey was just saying like, f*ck this.

Like I'm not treating myself differently than other people. Like I'm gonna take care of my body in the way that feels good for me. I'm gonna stop taking birth control because I feel depressed on it and I've been on it for like 10 years and don't even know how I feel without it. And I'm just gonna like exercise the way I want to. I'm going to dress myself the way I want to and I'm not gonna try to lose weight anymore. Mm-hmm. And I think the second I decided that I wasn't gonna try to lose weight anymore, I felt like I'm free. Hmm. Like it doesn't matter what my body looks like anymore because I don't care. Like I accept the way that I look now and that is like such a powerful thing. And as soon as I let that go I could actually step into this space of reclaiming mm-hmm my love for fashion, which is such a powerful thing.

And I don't wanna say that that was an easy process because it is really hard to find clothes that put your body like kind of going back to what I was saying before, like I'm a tall person, I'm a curvy person. So only recently brands started coming out with tall curvy sizes or like short curvy, like there's so many different size ranges now. So I think that that was a big part of like reclaiming my love for fashion was actually finding things that fit me. Cuz I think for a long time I would like try to squeeze into things or like buy too big like nothing was fitting properly and like the power of clothes fitting properly is incredible and I feel like you definitely feel that way too based on like what I know about you and how I've helped you in the past. Like when you have things that fit you, like you feel like you can take on the world and it's like such a little thing but it can be life-changing.

Caitie: Yeah. And can you speak a little bit to that process of like finding clothes that fit you? How do you cope with that tangibly in the moment? Because it is so important to have clothes that fit your here and now body, not the body that you want to have, not the body that you used to have, but finding clothing that fits your here and now body is such an important part of body acceptance and letting go of body avoidance and really feeling at peace with yourself. But I think where a lot of people struggle is in that process. Like in that process of trying on five different pairs of jeans and finding that none of them fit. I have, I don't wanna say that I have an abnormal lower body, but there's not a lot of clothing that are designed for my body type. There aren't a lot of jeans that are designed for my body type. And there's that process of like, it's so hard for me to find jeans that fit. So I know on a personal palpable level how horrible it feels to have to try on 12 different pairs of jeans, but mm-hmm. What tools do you offer clients? Because I know that a big part of the service that you provide is not just like helping people figure out their personal style and expressing themselves through style, but also through navigating the sizing changes and body changes and coping with having to try on a bunch of different stuff.

Nicole: Yeah, I mean I don't think people love to hear this, but it's so much trial and error like, like more than you can even imagine, at least for me. Caitie always makes fun of me because I always have a return to make and that's because it's true. But that's because

Caitie: I see Nicole, she's holding a return, like a, a bag that she's on her way to return every time.

Nicole: Well the reason for that is because I know for myself, I hate trying on in store. I never feel good there. I feel sh!tty in the dressing room. The lighting's horrible. You're sweating, you're upset. Like it's just not the place for me to try on clothes. So I order clothes online mm-hmm and return them. So you have to be open to like trying a lot. Mm-hmm. And the thing with that, that's like kind of hard to navigate and like, listen, I've, I've cried in many a dressing room, like I feel you, I, I did it this a few times this year. Like it's not, it still happens to me. I'm not saying like I am like the perfect example. Like do I think it's really important to just know like the best way for you to try things like how to put yourself in the right environment, how to get the right people around you, how to like work with people like me to kind of figure out like maybe what brands could be better for you based on the shape of your body and the place that you're at and your style preferences.

Like mixing all of those things together. And also, I don't love doing this but some people do it and have found real success is like tailoring clothes, which is an investment. But I think that, like I was saying before, it's really important to have clothes that fit you and if you can't find something that fits you maybe buy a bigger size and get it tailored and you can't even imagine how much better you'll feel just like knowing that you have that thing that is literally custom to your body. But I will say that I do find that it is helpful to go shopping with friends depending on like what you're going for or friends or family. Like I was shopping for a dress for a wedding this year and my mom came with me and it was so nice to have someone to like run interference for me.

Like I had a bunch of dresses in the dressing room and none of them were working. I was on the verge of a breakdown and she would leave and be like, I'll be back and would like find a bunch of other stuff and eventually we found something. Mm-hmm. But if she wasn't there with me I would've just like cried in the dressing room and went home defeated. Hmm. So I think it's important to realize or not realize, to determine for yourself like what is the best way for you to go shopping in a way that's not gonna like ruin your day. And again, that comes with some trial and error, but that's something that I like to help people with is to figure out the best method for them.

Caitie: Yeah. I wanna like pull over and underscore a few key things that you mentioned. So like the first thing is that yeah, trying on things in a dressing room isn't always the best experience. Dressing rooms suck. I say that to clients a lot. I'm like, often there's fluorescent lighting, there's really bad like just random throwback elevator music playing and it's not great lighting. Sometimes at stores like Aritzia you have to like step outside and look at yourself in the mirror in front of everybody instead of in the privacy of your own dressing room you have to go back out and get other sizes. It's you're, if it's the winter you're carrying your coat and your purse, your phone's like on the little stool in the dressing room and it's just like a messy chaotic experience. So just have compassion for yourself knowing that like, it actually kind of sucks to like try on clothes.

It's not, it's not fun, it's not designed in the most cushy and luxurious way. So maybe you do order a few different sizes online and try them on in the comfort of your own home. And if you absolutely have to go buy something in the store because you're on a time constraint, just try to set yourself up for the most success possible. For example, bringing a friend, I can't even tell you how many times I've brought Nicole shopping with me. Can't even, I, I can't count on both hands how many dresses you've helped me find in the past. And also like setting yourself up for a more calming experience by like brushing your hair before you go. Maybe putting on a little bit of makeup before you go instead of just like going in like you know, a super messy bun if you're not feeling super confident, if you go in feeling a little bit disheveled, you're also more likely to kind of be down on yourself when you're looking in the mirror versus like just taking a little extra love and tender care to yourself before you go into that experience. So yeah, I think acknowledging that it's a sh!tty experience is great and doing a little bit of research to set yourself up mm-hmm for success before you go there by like seeing what sizes they carry and what kinds of experiences people have had in those stores before if you can. And then also like taking care of yourself and regulating your nervous system and maybe putting a little bit of love into your appearance and your body self-care before you go. How do you feel about that stuff?

Nicole: Yeah. And something else that I think you're gonna love is that I think you should eat before you go because I find that when I go shopping I end up getting really hungry and then I cross over to hangry. Yeah. And when you're hangry, like you are not gonna find anything, you're just gonna be off and you're gonna get even more emotional. So there's that. And then also to add onto, onto like the research that you were talking about, you should map out like your route. So like if, if you're not going to a mall where there's a lot of stores or even if you are like decide what stores you're gonna go to ahead of time, it's sure you can like kind of veer off that. But it's good to just like be prepared in that way just to like set yourself up for the most success you can.

Caitie: Hmm. Of course. I love the idea of eating before and like speaking of eating before we kind of move on to a different topic, I actually would like to hear briefly from you about the moment you dropped dieting because you kind of brushed over it a little bit and I think it's important to kind of pull over and say that many, many doctors very lazily prescribe P C O S patients with restrictive diets. They'll be like, oh don't eat carbs. Or like, I just like, it's so mind blowing to me how sort of offhand some of the recommendations are for people with P C O S and choosing to walk away from that. There are a lot of leaders, dieticians nowadays who are saying, Hey this is like the way we're treating P C O S patients doesn't make sense. And you definitely caught onto that just on an internal level. So I'd love to hear just like briefly about that experience.

Nicole: Yeah, I mean like I was saying, I've tried every diet like I did f*cking Jenny Craig, which is bullsh!t. I like, like you were saying, cut out the carbs. I've like literally done everything. I've tried everything and I think, I don't remember the exact moment, but like you were a pivotal person in my life who like helped me realize that this way of eating that I was doing for so long is just like so bad for you, bad for your body and bad for your mental health. And so I feel like it was probably around like 2019 when we were living together in the East Village that I was like, we're done dieting, it's just we're done with it. And I just started to incorporate the intuitive eating framework that Caitie talks about all the time, which is like such a powerful thing. And I still go by that today and it was like the best decision I ever made for my health ever Really. Mm-hmm. To be honest.

Caitie: Yeah. I think more people need to hear the, just like that statement, that implementing the intuitive eating framework or deciding finally to drop dieting was the best decision you ever made for your health because so many people still associate health with the pursuit of weight loss. Like you can't possibly be pursuing health unless you're pursuing weight loss.

Nicole: Exactly. And I think back to all the times in my life where I was my thinnest and I was the most unhappy and I feel like everyone says that. So it's just important to do what feels right for your body and like not restrict yourself because I think the stress that you inflict on your body is probably doing more harm than like it should be when you're restricting.

Caitie: Yeah. And I mean, so this kind of is a segway into this article that was recently published in the New York Post about the trends in body types changing and how the heroin chic body type is starting to become trendy again. This article in New York Post like horrible article, I can't believe it was published, but like the fact that people still talk about bodies being trends, the way they talk about fashions being trends is mind-blowing to me.

Nicole: Yeah. This article is, when I saw it, I like almost started crying like it was so upsetting. So I, I think it's important to talk about the fact that like fashion is a very exclusive industry and one of the ways that it is exclusive is in the body types they portray, like growing up it was only really thin people and honestly only in the past few years have they started to expand and show people in larger bodies and start creating clothes for larger bodies. But even so it's kind of half-assed to be honest. Like they make the clothes like kind of uglier than the regular clothes. Again, whole nother thing like makes me really angry. But yeah, a lot of the ways that the fashion industry has sort of catered to bigger bodies is very performative. And one of the things that they actually talk about in the article, which I find infuriating, but I think it's something that needs to be talked about more, is the fact that a lot of times, even when a big fashion house will make an outfit for a plus size or like a woman in a larger body for their runway, it's a custom piece.

Nicole: Mm-hmm, they have zero intention of making it for the average consumer. So for example this year Miu Miu relaunch their miniskirt, which honestly why? Um, but they created it for a model named Paloma who I love. She's a plus-size model and has worked with really big brands and I was honestly upset that she worked with them on this because they custom made that skirt for her and they never sold it to the public. And I think that's a huge problem. It's only perpetuating the exclusiveness of the industry and it's really upsetting to see because I feel like we're moving backwards in a time where we should have moved miles and miles forward.

Caitie: Yeah. I think that is like the main alarm bell that went off for me when I saw that article. I was like, wait, what the f*ck? Like how are we moving backwards? I often say to clients like we have a really long way to go. And also there's been a lot of progress recently in terms of body diversity that we're seeing in the media and plus-size clothing and all of that. And that article just like that and the Kim Kardashian Marilyn Monroe dress thing and now mm-hmm what you are saying, which is completely new information to me. I actually didn't even know that. And I'm really excited for people who listen to this podcast to now be aware of that information is making me feel like we're going backwards.

Nicole: Yeah. And to me, the fact that the Kardashians have so much power in our society is really alarming, especially right now because of the way that Kim and Chloe mainly have lost a ton of weight. Mm-hmm and the way that they've lost weight is really unhealthy. I mean usually the way the people lose weight is unhealthy but mm-hmm. They first of all have a ton of money so they can just get plastic surgery. But also a lot of people in Hollywood right now are taking a diabetes drug to lose weight. Mm. Like we are really reverting back to like our, when our moms were like, oh I'm gonna take this diet pill and everything's gonna be great. And it's just like not what we should be teaching, especially the youth of the world, not just America. And the fact that the Kardashians are preaching this by losing weight to fit into a dress is mind-blowing to me and extremely concerning. And I think more people need to talk about it.

Caitie: Oh y-y and something else that is infuriating about the Kardashians' power in the world is that they have a ton of plastic surgery and that is viewed as the beauty standard. So they have a ton of, they made a ton of investments in literally artificially changing their body shape and size and their face and all of it. And people are saying, oh my gosh, so gorgeous. There's the beauty standard natural beauty. I know that you're open to talking more about this, so I kind of wanna transition into it that you had an experience getting classic surgery and feel passionately about how casually people talk about plastic surgery, about how it's like not that big of a deal and yeah, just share what you feel called to share. But I think it's also something that's important to mention along these lines because so many individuals who are viewed as the beauty standard are unfortunately making these crazy investments in getting quite frankly a very dangerous surgery. It's a surgery you're going under the knife and is that worth it? At what cost?

Nicole: Yeah. I mean a lot of friends and family that I have, like they will we'll just be casually talking about like people in the media and like someone I know is always saying that they think Bella Hadid is gorgeous. Mm-hmm. And every time they say this I'm like, you know, that's not what she looks like, right? Like I literally showed Caitie a side-by-side of Bella Hadid before and after plastic surgery. It's like a whole different person. Mm-hmm. So like yours. I just wanted to add that what you're saying. Yeah. It's so alarming that people look up to these people in the media and they're like, wow, they're gorgeous. Like I can't believe I don't look like them. Like I hate myself cuz I don't look like them. But they don't even look like that and people don't even realize mm-hmm. Which is a huge problem.

But, um, to kind of segue into my experience with plastic surgery, I actually had a breast reduction this year. And I think that after doing it, I'm very alarmed by the way that people just like glaze over plastic surgery. And by that, I mean how they glaze over like the recovery and the implications that it has on your mental and physical health. So I will say that the reason I did this procedure was really mainly for me and I genuinely mean that. Like I didn't do it because people made fun of me or because I wanted to change myself to appease other people. It was truly for myself, which I think is, is a good reason to have plastic surgery. Like I think yes, sometimes plastic surgery is maybe not the answer, but if it's because it's something that is going to like improve your life in some way, then I think it is a good option for you.

But again, like you need to weigh this option because one is expensive. Two, it's painful, it takes time and it impacts your mental and physical health. So obviously deciding to do this procedure was like a big decision for me. Like it wasn't something that I just like decided overnight was like, yep, I'm gonna get the surgery and everything's gonna be fine. No, it was like a, a big to-do and it took me a while to decide and I ultimately did it because I was like comfortable and um, it was again what I wanted to do. So I had the procedure, I had the anesthesia, all that. It's very scary. It's not like an easy process and the recovery frankly was horrible. Mm. And I think that it's interesting because I did talk to someone who used my same doctor just to like get an idea of like what it was gonna be like.

And even they were like, yeah, I was like playing with my kids a week later and everything was fine. And for me it was not fine. Like I literally could not move my arms for like a month. Like I couldn't move them over my head. Like this was my range of motion. I was literally like a robot. It was crazy. And luckily I had someone to help take care of me. Uh, yeah. So there's that. And then also like when you have a surgery like that, you're gonna look pretty beat up for a long time and seeing that puts your body in fight instead of flight for an extended period of time. And I'm very lucky because I go to therapy and I had a therapist throughout this whole process. If I did not have my therapist, I honestly would've been in a really dark place because it impacts the way that you view yourself and the way that you kind of move about the world because you're just like stressed.

Even if you don't realize it, you're stressed because your body's like, what if someone tries to attack me? I physically can't. Like I can't do anything right now. So it's really hard in that regard and it just takes a long time to, to heal fully. Like my doctor said that I will not see like the actual results until a year after. And then the scars don't even settle down until two years after. So the time that it takes to recover from a procedure, of course every procedure's a little bit different, but mine specifically is a long time. It's not like a quick fix, if you will. It, it's a long drawn-out process and it can really mess with you and impact you. And even now, like I, like I can move my arms, like we're all, we're all healed, we're all good. But I like still haven't even like nailed down a fitness routine yet. Like I haven't really gotten back into that and I'm trying to be kind to myself about that because mm-hmm. Again, I underwent a major surgery mm-hmm, it wasn't like a little shot of Botox. It was like a big thing. And so many people now, especially young people are getting these procedures without researching, um, without really understanding the full implications of what they're doing. And it's really concerning and especially doing it for the wrong reasons. I think that's a huge thing. Like you have to do it for you.

Caitie: Yeah. It reminds me of what we often talk about with food and with movement is like it needs to be motivated by a love of life, not by a fear of weight gain. It needs to be motivated by a desire to live your life more fully and freely. Not by a fear of gaining weight and not by shame. And if a plastic surgery procedure is motivated entirely by shame and not a desire to enjoy your life more, or maybe for functional reasons, a lot of breast reductions are for functional reasons. Mm-hmm. If it's completely motivated by feeling shame, then that's going to make this whole process even more difficult on your nervous system. I think it is really important to talk about the nervous system implications of it. Right. Because your body is shocked, your body's not expecting to be cut open. Mm-hmm. And when something like that happens, when you have any kind of surgery for any reason, it really does wreak havoc on your nervous system and your ability to communicate with your body and hear what your body is saying.

Cuz your body just goes into that fight or flight mode. And so yeah, I think it's important to talk about this because of how plastic surgery procedures are kind of now put as like the norm in the media. It's like more celebrities and more people that we see in the media have plastic surgery procedures than the number of celebrities and people in the media who don't have those procedures. And when we're viewing ourselves up against the people we see in the media who have these procedures, we are likely to feel a lot of shame. And I see this happening, especially to young people, especially to the Gen Z TikTok generation, constantly comparing themselves to individuals who don't have natural bodies.

Nicole: Yeah. And also like, I'm 27 just for reference, so I'm not like super young and, I can't imagine like going through a procedure like this as like a really young person. Like I don't think I would've thought it through. And also like when you're that young, you usually don't have a lot of money, so you're likely to go to a sketchy doctor, you have a higher chance of getting botched or like maybe something could go really wrong in your surgery. Like it's possible things happen. So yeah, I just think it's really concerning that young people like see other people in the media and they instead of like even trying to like accept their body, they default like, oh, you get this procedure and they really fall into that shame hole that you were kind of talking about.

Caitie: So kind of connecting this back to fashion then, how can you use fashion as a tool to feel more empowered in your physical appearance and as a way to feel, yeah. Literally more powered, more empowered and confident in your physical appearance rather than feeling like you have to change your physical body.

Nicole: Well I think the most important thing is dressing for yourself rather than dressing for other people. Like I used to find that, especially like going out with friends, I would wear clothes that I absolutely hated because I thought that that's what I should wear because I thought that that's what made me desirable. And even though I thought that's what other people wanted of me, like I felt horrible. So I think it's really important to dress yourself truly for you. And with that, I think it's important to not necessarily follow the trend cycles. I think that it's like a really easy pitfall to go down, especially if you are someone who's interested in fashion. I kind of used to be that way. I used to like follow the trends really religiously and like every fashion week would like be on the Vogue website looking at every single runway show, trying to like figure out what the trends were.

And sure at the time it was fun, but it's exhausting. So I think it's really important to figure out what you like, regardless of what other people say is like appropriate or trendy and kind of sticking by that. And then finding the clothes that fit you properly and then kind of like creating routine around it. Like I think it's such a powerful thing to get dressed in the morning and like make a ritual out of it. Or at night if you're picking out an outfit, either one, depending on like what you like to do. But I think it's really awesome to kind of like do an embodiment kind of practice to like kind of bridge the gap between fashion and wellness right now. You can kind of like do a bit of a meditation, close your eyes, play music, like candles, whatever you like to do in your like wellness kind of routine.

And just like think about how you want to feel in your next day or at this event you're planning that you're trying to pick an outfit for, whatever it may be. And really think about how you want to feel and the vibe you wanna put off mm-hmm. because people can feel that and they will portray you a certain way depending on the way that you're dressing. So I think it's best to figure out how you want to feel and how you, you want people to see you versus how you want them to view you, if that makes sense. Hmm. Did that make sense?

Caitie: Yeah.

Nicole: I can say it again if I need.

Caitie: So no, so prioritizing how you want to view yourself rather than how you want over people to view you.

Nicole: Exactly.

Caitie: So what does that mean? Like tangibly how do you want to view yourself and how do you, yeah. How do you reframe and focus on that?

Nicole: I guess it kind of depends person to person, right? Like it also depends on your lifestyle. So like for example, I, I work a full-time job on top of my styling. Um, so when I go to work I like to feel like very put together and classic and just like powerful and I dress myself to feel that way by knowing what my uniform is. I like really have like just a few different like versions of outfits that I wear and kind of cycle through. I'm a big proponent of outfit repeating. I think it's great. I don't think that we should stray away from that, but by just like knowing what works for you and having like this formula, you can really tailor your outfits towards how you want to feel in every situation that you're going to be in.

Caitie: Hmm. So like when I'm counseling clients, like I want to feel soothing, nurturing, down to earth. So I don't dress the same way as someone going to a corporate job. Often, I actually can justify being in cozier clothes because I just want people to feel like they're hanging out and being authentic and being themselves with me versus I'm here being your like clinician, your therapist. Like I really don't wanna give off that vibe. I think that's like stereotypical like, oh I've gotta wear this scarf and like I absolutely will never be that person cuz that is not the vibe that I wanna see myself as. And that is not the vibe that I want my clients to see me as.

Nicole: Yeah. And it doesn't have to be a serious thing. Like I think maybe the way I'm talking about it is making it like a bigger deal than it is. Like this should be very intuitive. Like for you you wanna feel inviting and comforting and a place that people feel safe. So you often gravitate towards very comfy clothes, like nice like light pastel kind of colors. Mm-hmm. And little things like that just like make people feel safe around you. So it really does depend like on what you do for work and or if you go to school or whatever. But that's kind of how you like cater it towards your lifestyle.

Caitie: Yeah, I think, I mean I always appreciate when we simplify things when we say things are like, wait, it's actually not that big of a deal. It actually can be a little bit more intuitive. You know, I'm all about that. So I feel like, uh, there are so many more things that you and I can talk about and we really have hit so many buckets today between talking about P C O S and changing bodies in plastic surgery and styling and clothing.

So as I'm wrapping us up today, I wanna ask you the questions that I ask all of my guests. Do you have morning routines and nightly routines? I love a good morning routine and I love a good nightly routine and I love reminding people that we don't do these things every single day. We just try to stick to these anchors when we can.

Nicole: Yeah, I mean my morning routine is pretty sparse because as Caitie knows, I'm really not a morning person at all. Like, I roll out of bed quite close to my work time when I'm working from home.

Caitie: Let me just say, I spent a lot of our friendship trying to just help Nicole accept the fact that she's not a morning person and it's like, totally okay. I think more people need to talk about this, right? More people need to talk about, yeah. What like some bodies don't like getting up at 5:00 AM like that's just the way it's.

Nicole: Yeah, I'm not about the five-to-nine four or nine-to-five, that's just not me. So my morning routine's very, very simple. And again, I don't do this every morning, it really depends on how much time I give myself. But I try to make my bed everyday cuz it's just like an easy check mark that I can do in the morning. It makes me just like feel like I've done something productive. I also like always I need coffee, like that is number one, like necessity before anything or I just can't function. And then getting dressed every day it's a little bit different depending on, again, how much time I give myself. But I like to make a routine around getting dressed and sometimes I will maybe pick an outfit out the night before. If I'm going to my office, I go in twice a week so I try to pick out my outfit the night before so that I'm not like rushing in the morning.

Cuz again, I know myself not a morning person, so I've gotta prepare. But I do like to try to make a routine out of getting dressed and every morning that looks different. Sometimes if it's more involved I'll like put on music, I'll light a candle, I'll like really get like embodied and then other times I'll just like throw something on mm-hmm. It really just depends and that's totally fine. Like I, I definitely preach this like, you have to get dressed every day, but like, you don't have to, like you gotta do what's right for you in that regard. And then in terms of nightly routine, I'm like a huge night owl. Like love it. So I do a lot of different things in the evening. I recently have really been loving, wearing like matching pajama sets and honestly more like sexy kind of PJs, like very silky and lacy.

And it just helps me feel like very like feminine and like in my power. And I love it. I used to just wear like a t-shirt to bed, but that part of my routine has like, kind of just changed the way that I feel about myself and like has made me even more confident. So it's not just how you dress for your day. Mm-hmm. That's important. I think it's also can translate into like other areas as well. So yeah, that's a big part. And then I love lighting candles and Caitie and I both love Galaxy Lights. I'm a huge Galaxy Light girl. If you don't know, get one on Amazon, it's the best. It just like creates this like beautiful like starry sky in your room and it just like helps me feel calm and I, I really like to read or like call a friend at night to wind down. I try to like stay off my phone as much as possible just cause I work on the computer all day and then if I'm really feeling restless, I like to like put on my giant over ear headphones like blast music and like dance around my room alone, which I don't think I've ever told anyone. But I love doing that. And it just makes, again, makes me feel like embodied.

Caitie: Let's just tell every person this podcast.

Nicole: Yeah, let's just tell the world right now. The secret's out. But yeah, that's my nightly routine.

Caitie: Ah, so good. So good. And you know, I love to also wrap up this podcast by providing a processing prompt and an actionable experiment for everyone who's listening. So let's try and make those related to fashion. I do think that a really good processing prompt for what we've talked about today is to simply consider your relationship with fashion. Really, I didn't notice that I had a bad relationship with fashion for a long time. Truly. I was just like, oh, and just the girl that likes to wear fitness clothes to the bar, I just don't care. Like, and it that it wasn't that, it really wasn't that I didn't care, it was that I didn't feel like acknowledging my body. I was in a place of body avoidance for a while and if I was gonna step outta that place of body avoidance, it would mean that I was gonna go shopping and try on a bunch of different clothes and try to figure out what size fit me. And like, I didn't feel like doing that. And my relationship with fashion was pretty toxic for a while. Clothes had power over me. It was like, I have to shop for an event. No, like, don't make me do that. I have to think about what I'm actually putting on. I have to buy a new pair of jeans, I have to buy jeans, period. Like, don't make me do that. So yeah. So I think that that's a really good prompt. Anything you wanna add to that?

Nicole: I would also just challenge people to do what I was saying before about like that getting dressed and being embodied kind of practice. Mm. Um, like it doesn't have to be like a long drawn out thing. Just like really think about like what you need to wear based on your lifestyle that day. Like are you going to work? Like what's your plan for the day? And then like how do you wanna feel and like how can you use clothes to like express yourself and to embody those feelings that you wanna feel throughout your day.

Caitie: Hmm. I think that can be the actionable experiment. That is something that I do not do as much as I want to, maybe ever. The only time I ever do that is if I'm going to a major event or I'm like getting photos taken of myself. I very rarely will take any time to think too much about what I'm wearing. I'm kind of just like going and pulling the first thing I see, putting it on and that's it. And I know that when I do actually take the time to seriously just pull over for five seconds to think a little bit more about my outfit, I, I do feel more embodied. I do feel more like I'm expressing something about myself. And yeah. When people also say they like my outfit, it's like, oh, I'm like, that's cool. Like it feels good to be complimented for your clothing. It also feels good to be complimented for something that you chose to express yourself.

Nicole: Exactly. And the thing that I also tell people too, is you don't have to make like an additional routine out of it, like add it to your existing, like you, for example, I know you like to like meditate and journal and breathe in the morning, so just add like a minute of that. Like to be dedicated to getting dressed. It doesn't have to be like a huge time suck of your day.

Caitie: Yeah, and that kind of goes in line with everything we talk about on this podcast, right? Food doesn't have to be such a big *ss deal. Fitness doesn't have to be such a big *ss deal. These things can be intuitive and they can flow and it doesn't have to be like this whole new thing. You don't have to make fashion a hobby. It can just be something that you consider as a form of self-care. So I love that. Thank you so much for being here today and I can't wait to have you back for a future episode. Something that's worth noting before I sign off is that Nicole is actually one of the guest coaches in the Whole, Full, & Alive Toolkit. She did a little mindful workshop on, what did you call it? Do you call it, intuitive styling?

Nicole: Um, I think holistic styling.

Caitie: Holistic styling, and it's great. So if you purchase the toolkit, you'll have access to that hour-long workshop, which is amazing. So definitely more tangible tools in there.

Thank you so much for being here today. If you enjoyed today's episode, please leave a five-star rating on iTunes or on Spotify. Those ratings help us just get the podcast to more people who might benefit from this resource. I'm super thankful for the reviews, the ratings that have been left so far. This is one of the first episodes that's being released in 2023, so I hope that wherever you are, you're having a peaceful start to your new year, and maybe you can consider fashion as one of your intentions for the new year.


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