Stacy London on the Existential Crisis of Aging

The former What Not to Wear host is now the CEO of personal care brand State Of — and it was a painful and traumatic early menopause experience that pushed her into this pivot.

Ladies First - Stacy London & Laura Norkin
Photo: Courtesy

Stacy London has changed everything about her life since you last checked. The former TV personality and stylist is now a CEO. Rather than splurge on a new pair of shoes, she treats herself with subscriptions to medical journals.

In this week's episode of the InStyle podcast Ladies First, London talks about how an existential crisis in early menopause led her to this massive pivot — and she isn't looking back.

When menopause hits, which London warns may happen as early as your 30s and with any of 34 unique symptoms, it can be a confusing experience we don't have the vocabulary for, because no one's really talking about it. The sudden shift in your physical and emotional state, "makes you feel like you're not you anymore," she says. "There's this sense that the old you is gone. That is a very scary feeling, to feel like you look in the mirror and you look different or you feel uncomfortable in your skin."

Part of that discomfort, she tells me, is put upon women (though she's quick to clarify that State Of's products address the symptoms of menopause, which are not exclusive to women-identified people). This part, though? The shame surrounding it? That is a woman problem.

"A lot of what we talk about when we talk about aging is directed at women through this patriarchal lens. And we have internalized shame around the topic. We've internalized a lot of shame about being women, period, right?"

Shame, sweatiness, brain fog, identity crises — not all of these things can be solved by the right moisturizer or Cooling Spray, but London agrees that having a "rapid-relief solution" to some of the day-to-day indignities of aging make all the difference.

"[State Of] started with skincare for a reason. It is the first thing that people will talk about when they start to talk about changing, right? One of the first things they see is what they see: a difference in the texture of their skin, or their skin doesn't feel as plump as it was before," she says. She plans to rise to this challenge with an entire "menopause ecosystem" to join the creams, sprays, and supplements already on offer.

Ladies First - Stacy London & Laura Norkin

"I am not asking for permission to make this pivot," London says of turning from fashion to business. And here's where fans of What Not to Wear will recognize the Stacy London they know and love, as she mixes some hard truths (menopause is unavoidable. Deal with it.) with the sweet support to guide you through.

"We are telling [this] to generations that are younger than us, because you're going to get here eventually. That's the joy of aging, right? We have to really change this conversation, so that younger people aren't like, 'It's never going to happen to me,' because I was that person. I thought menopause was optional. I thought it happened to other people."

Though if there's anything we've learned in the last year, it's that aging is an adventure and it only happens to the lucky among us. London agrees, and wants to help her fans (and shoppers) move into the next phase of their lives in comfort and, of course, in style.

"With age comes wisdom, and I am not convinced that we're solely talking about style anymore. We're talking about capital-Life, lowercase-style, and that means starting to think about health and wellness as much as you think about what you're wearing." That doesn't mean she won't notice your outfit, though. "I'm still Stacy from What Not to Wear in the sense that I will tell you if something doesn't look great, but I will only tell you that with an alternative. That's what makes it constructive criticism and not just bitchy."

For more from Stacy London on her evolution into CEO, the cookies she prefers to eat cold, and why cool girls always wear their new shoes the MINUTE they get them home, listen to this week's episode of Ladies First.

Listen to the full episode and subscribe on Apple, PlayerFM, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. And tune in weekly to Ladies First with Laura Brown hosted by InStyle's editor in chief Laura Brown, who speaks to guests like Michelle Pfeiffer, Emily Ratajkowski, Cynthia Erivo, Naomi Watts, La La Anthony, Ellen Pompeo, Rep. Katie Porter, and more to discuss current events, politics, some fashion, and, most importantly, the major firsts in their lives.

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