Carson Kressley

Many women hate their bodies, disregarding their beauty and magnifying the smallest imperfections. If you see only jiggling thighs, saggy breasts and a flabby belly when you look in the mirror, Carson Kressley has a message for you!

For four years, Carson and the other members of the Fab Five transformed sloppy straight guys into gentlemen of style on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Now, Carson is putting his stylish sensibilities back to work as he helps women of all sizes learn to love their bodies on the show How to Look Good Naked. In January 2008, the show became the most-watched reality series premiere in the Lifetime Television Network's history.

"When they first said, 'Do you want to do this show, How to Look Good Naked?' I said, 'I can't do that. I don't look good naked, you know? How am I going to tell other people?'" Carson says. "Then we started doing it, and I realized how women have these amazingly deep body issues."
Michael at home

Michael says she was once a "bubbly, skinny" woman who occasionally worked as a model. After she gave birth to her son 13 years ago, she says she began putting on weight. "I went from being a cute little thing to a big pig," she says.

Her appearance makes her reluctant to do much of anything besides going to work and lying in bed. "It's easier to be in the bed than out there facing life, facing people," she says.

Gabriel, Michael's husband, says the real problem isn't her weight but how she feels about her weight. She regularly opts out of social situations like parties, he says. "The reason is because she's going to feel like everybody at the party is smaller than she is. And I don't feel that way, but that's how she feels."

Gabriel says Michael's feelings about her weight puts a real strain on their relationship. "Everyday I have to hear about how much she weighs and how much she used to weigh," he says. "It affects us even in bed, sexually."
Michael sits down with Carson

The first step of Carson's plan is to sit down with Michael for a one-on-one conversation. During their session, Michael admits that she suffers from low self-esteem because of weight gain. "I used to be a size 5 to 7," she says. "Now I'm like [a size] 14, 16 sometimes 18. I have three tracksuits that love me, and I love them back."

Michael tells Carson that it's more than just parties she avoids. She also says she hasn't visited her son's school for some time. "You can just look at people and say, 'My gosh, she really gained over the summer.' And a lot of the moms get smaller and smaller, and I'm just getting bigger and bigger."

Carson wants Michael to put a stop to that thinking! "Just put that out of your mind because we're never going to be perfect," he says. "Someone's always going to be younger and skinnier and cuter, but no one's going to be you. No one has you, your experiences, your husband, your family. You've got something nobody else has, and you should be proud of that. ... You've got all the ingredients. You've just got to believe in yourself a little more."

"I'm just sick of being so emotional all the time and feeling so whiny—and that's so not like me," Michael says. "I want to get back into living and start being the social butterfly that I once was."
Michael looks in the mirror.

For the next part of the Carson's self-image intervention, he leads Michael into a room filled with mirrors so she can get a 360-degree look at her body...after she strips down to her underwear. "Here comes the real deal," Michael says. "This is what's called the truth."

"Sometimes the truth feels good," Carson says.

"Sometimes it hurts, big time," Michael says.

Carson encourages Michael to talk about how she feels about her body. The first thing she notices is her stomach, which she calls a "muffin top." She's not happy about her thighs, either. "Those are bad, too. They're very loose," Michael says. "Look in the mirror at that shaking—it's like an earthquake!"

The part of her body Michael says she hates most is her behind. "It's humungous. When I round the corner you can still see me."

After the jokes stop, Michael gets serious. "I wish I didn't have to feel like this about my butt. I feel really almost guilty that I'm so blessed in so many ways."

Carson tells Michael he sees a different person than what she's identified. "You're sassy, you're confident, you're beautiful. You've got great hair, a great smile. The 'girls' look amazing. Your hips are even with the line of your shoulder. You've got a nice balance," he says. "By the end of our couple of days together, I want you to be able to look in the mirror and see the model within. That might not be the skinny person from 20 years ago, but I want you to see the beautiful person that's still there."
Michael's lineup test.

Carson's next exercise with Michael is the "lineup." He's found six women whose bodies are similar to Michael's and asked them to stand before her in their skivvies. "Notice they're all poised, gorgeous, confident," he says.

The six models are standing in order of hip size, from smallest to largest. "What I want you to do is walk the lineup, check out their booties and decide which spot you belong based on your hip size," Carson says.

With no delay, Michael chooses what she thinks is her spot near the "largest" end of the line—between a woman with a 49.5-inch waist and one with a 49-inch waist. Is she right?

In actuality, Michael's 46.5-inch waist belongs near the smallest end—she is shocked. "By placing yourself here in the lineup, you've actually added three inches to your hip measurements," Carson says. "I'm not joking here. I'm as serious as global warming."
Strangers react to a photo of Michael.

To further prove to Michael that she has a warped sense of her body, Carson decides to offer some major insight. Carson projects a huge image of an underwear-clad Michael on a building in Chicago's famed shopping district along Michigan Avenue!

"What do you think about her body?" Carson asks a passerby.

"Look at her structure," one woman says. "She has a long neck, beautiful décolleté."

"If you were going to rate her body on a scale of one to 10, what would you say?" Carson asks others.

"Definitely a seven or eight, easy," one man says.

"I'd give her an eight or nine," a woman say.

"I would say 10," another passerby says.

Hearing those reactions brings Michael to tears. "I'm happy. I can't believe those people said those things about me," she says. "They're very happy tears."

Carson says hearing compliments from strangers can be the difference in body perspective. "Most of these women hear that tape in their heads saying, 'I'm not good enough. My butt's too big. My arms are jiggly,'" he says. "Their friends and family say, 'Wow, I think you're so sexy. You're great-looking.' But they don't hear it. They need to hear it from complete and total strangers who they don't know and that don't know them to feel like maybe it's true."
Anita says she feels like a blob.

Anita, a 43-year-old woman from Pennsylvania, says she has been battling her weight since she was a child. "One of my earliest weight-related memories as a child was when I was playing outside and I fell on the sidewalk," she says. "The older woman that lived in the house came running outside and told me to go get my mom because I had cracked her sidewalk by the weight of myself falling on it. Ridiculous, yes, I know this, but somehow of all the things that have happened in my life, I still remember that."

No matter how much weight she loses or how many times her husband tells her she is sexy, Anita says she still feels like a "blob." "Once during an argument, which as usual came down to my poor self-esteem, he asked me how I could ever expect someone else to love me when I didn't love myself," she says. "I hear that over and over in my head."

Anita says she does not want her 13-year-old daughter to develop the same low self-esteem that she has faced herself. "I don't want her to waste her life worrying about that," Anita says. "There's too much life to live."
Carson and Anita

Before giving her a body image makeover, Carson sits down with Anita to have a heart-to-heart talk. Anita tells Carson that her weight has ranged from 105 to 208 pounds over the years. At her current weight of approximately 170 pounds, she says she would like to drop some weight.

"You don't have to be skinny or any different than what you are right now to start liking yourself," Carson says. "Hopefully, this process will get you feeling better about yourself and will get you on the track to losing weight."

Anita says she gets angry with herself and tired of obsessing about the way she looks. "I just want to be able to be happy with what I've got and not always wish to be something different that I think other people want me to be," she says. "If I could learn to live for myself, then I would be living for everybody else, giving them 100 percent."
Anita looks at her body in the mirror.

It's one of the hardest steps in the process, but Anita has to do it—the mirror exercise. She strips down to her bra and underwear to face the truth. "I don't really see any good stuff, honestly," she says. "I definitely don't feel pretty. Repulsive is probably too strong a word, but that's how I feel. Just...eww. Why would anybody want to look at that?"

Anita points out the parts of her body she doesn't like—her arms, her breasts, her thighs and her belly. "When I was younger, I had a very defined waist, so this is really hard for me to deal with," she says.

Carson asks Anita to pay attention to the beautiful parts of her body. "You have a nice shoulder, and your hips are maybe even a little slimmer than your shoulders. You have great calves. You've got pretty little feet, plus your great face," he says. "The thing to remember is you don't have to be perfect to be pretty, all right?"

After she scrutinizes her assets and flaws, Carson asks Anita to give herself a chance to like her body. "I will be easier on myself and try to like what I see in the mirror," she says.
Anita places herself in the lineup.

To help Anita understand how inaccurate her body image is, Carson brings out six ladies who are lined up from left to right according to their stomach measurements. He asks Anita to stand where she thinks she belongs according to her waist size.

Walking down the line, Anita decides she must have the third-largest waist in the group, but Carson says she's wrong. "By placing yourself here, you've actually added three and a half inches to your stomach measurement," Carson says.

Carson says Anita actually has the smallest waist of all the ladies in the lineup—and Anita is stunned! "We might have to take you to the ophthalmologist, okay? Because it's not the problem with your stomach. It's from your eyes and how you're perceiving yourself," Carson says.

"It's hard to believe," Anita says. "But I'm believing it."
Strangers see a picture of Anita on a building.

Now that Anita is starting to realize her body looks better than she thought, Carson enlists the help of some strangers to drive home the point. He has an image of Anita, in only her bra and underwear, projected onto a building in downtown Chicago. When people walk by, Carson asks them what they think of her body.

"I think real, wonderful and beautiful," one man says. "I definitely think curves are sexy."

"Put her in some pumps and a knee-length dress and send her down the runway," a woman says.

"I think she has beautiful natural curves," says another man. "I think her legs are actually quite fine. She has very nice calves."

Hearing all the nice things the strangers said about her body leads Anita to an aha! moment. "I'm the one with the disconnect," she says. "I feel like maybe I don't need to cower in the corner anymore and hide behind people. I could just hold my head up and get out there and be myself. But it is scary to do that because I have been in such a cocoon."
Susan Nethero fits Michael for underwear.

When it's time to start their makeovers, Carson begins with the foundation by taking Michael and Anita to see Susan Nethero of Intimacy Boutique. Susan specializes in fitting women for bras, panties and lingerie—"all of the foundation garments that are going to change your life," Carson says.

Susan says Michael's breasts are coming out of the top of her bra and splaying a bit to the side. "I tell women [it looks like] about 10 pounds of weight loss when we lift you up a little bit and we get you centered within your bust line," Susan says.

Before her fitting, Michael says she wore a 36D. But after her fitting, she's in a 36FF. "Her bust line, if you look here, is completely in her body frame," Susan says.

Carson says Michael's new panties fit better, too. "Your butt looks amazing in this," he says. "It's not covering too much. It's giving you a nice length of leg."
Susan helps Anita find a bra.

Now it's Anita's turn to search out flattering, well-fitting undergarments to boost her confidence. Susan says Anita's current bra is riding up in the back, causing her breasts to sag. "When we get the bra level or lower in the back, we'll have all of our support, so then we'll actually get nice uplift here," Susan says.

Anita's old bra was a size 38C, but the pretty new black-and-pink bra Susan helps her choose is a 36E. "Maybe you started out as a younger girl as a C cup, and then maybe you gain a little weight," Susan says. While the cup size often grows, Susan and Carson say it's less usual for the bra band size to get bigger.

Anita discovers that a properly fitting bra with good support causes less of a roll underneath her bust. "Right, because we're not pushing them down," Carson says. When she puts on a sassy red bra, Anita exudes confidence with straighter posture. "I just love it. I feel pretty," Anita says. "You got me to say it!"
Carson gives his shopping tips.

After leaving the bra boutique, Carson takes Michael and Anita to try on clothes that will make them look good when they aren't naked. He offers his tips on how to instantly reduce any perceived problem areas.
"If you're concerned about being big in the hips, you don't want a skinny, peg-legged jean," he says. "That's going to accentuate that shape. You want a little flare."

Carson also says that the right size accessory can serve double duty. "If you have a really big purse, it makes your butt look smaller."

When picking out an outfit for Michael, Carson says knit spandex is a great option. "What it does is it creates shape in the arms." This, he says, reduces arm "rollage" even when she waves.

Since Michael is also concerned about her waist, Carson has her try on a patent leather belt. "What it does is cinches you in and gives you a great waistline."

That flashy belt fulfills another of Carson's tips—feeling sexy by stepping out of your comfort zone!
Carson helps Anita find flattering clothes.

Carson has Anita try on a shape-flattering patterned wrap dress to accentuate her figure. "This is knit, and this is great because it's body hugging in all the right places, and it's forgiving in the right places," Carson says.

"I love it. It's just—I feel free," Anita says.

Carson chooses a jacket with a large print to camouflage her midriff, and Anita says she doesn't notice her stomach at all! "It's a nonissue," Carson says.

To make Anita feel taller and leaner, Carson chooses a long, green jacket. "When you feel short-waisted, which you are, you tend to wear very short garments, and that only accentuates your boxiness," Carson says. "If you just wear longer, more column-like things, it just makes you look longer. It's like magic, isn't it?"
Jude consults with Michael and Anita.

Now that they both look fabulous in form-flattering clothes, Michael and Anita are ready to continue their body image overhaul with the help of celebrity makeup artist and hair stylist Jude Alcalá.

After looking at their hair and features, Jude shares his ideas create beautiful looks. For Michael, Jude focuses on hair color. "What I want to do is obviously cover the gray. I want to see two different colors," Jude says.

As for Anita, Jude wants to give her locks a completely different shape. "I think this is just hanging, and you're hiding behind your hair," Jude says.
Michael's new look

Before Michael has even seen her new hair and makeup, Carson gets a first look. He can't believe the transformation. "Wow, I so didn't recognize you," he says. "I was, like, 'Who is that?'"

Michael is ready to see her new hair in 3...2...1... "I don't even look like myself!" she says. "This is unbelievable. I'm gorgeous! I look beautiful!"
Anita sees her makeover for the first time.

It's time for Anita to see her gorgeous transformation! When Carson lets her see her newly shaped blonde bob, Anita is ecstatic. "Oh my god," she says. "Who is that?"

"It's you, kid," Carson says. "Take a look. Soak it all in."
Carson proposes nude photo shoots.

After seeing how happy Michael and Anita are with their new looks, Carson decides to try shooting for the moon. "To really seal the deal and say, 'Hey, I love myself so much I'm going to really sex it up and flaunt it,' wouldn't it be fun to do a photo shoot?" he asks. "And to make it really sexy and romantic—like a tasteful kind of boudoir kind of shot—we could do it in the nude."

"I'm game," Michael says.

"I'm game if she's game," Anita says.

"That was easy. I didn't even have to buy you dinner," Carson jokes.

After her shoot with photographer Matthew Mitchell, Michael was still glowing. "I came alive, and my self-confidence is reinstated. I've been ridiculous," she says. "My heart is good and it always has been, and I feel so much better about myself."
Anita poses on a bed during her photo shoot.

When it's Anita's turn to bare all in her photo shoot, she says she's a little nervous about how they'll turn out. "I'll believe it when I see it, I guess," Anita says.

After posing for a few practice frames in her robe, it's the moment of truth—time to take it all off! "I'm not looking, I swear," Carson says.

Anita shines as she smiles for the camera, posing on a bed wrapped artfully in a sheet. "Take a bow," Carson says. "Anita, you rocked it out!"

"That was both the scariest thing I've ever done in my life and also the most exhilarating," she says. "And the most fun!"
Michael loves her new look.

After their photo shoots, it's back to Michigan Avenue for the big reveal. When Carson shows Michael her photo projected in larger-than-life size on the side of a building, she's floored. "Wow! That's me? I look gorgeous," she says. "I love the colors. I love the hair. I love the makeup. I love the legs. What a hottie!"

And she's not the only one who thinks so! Carson and Michael flag down some passersby to ask what they think.

"You look hot," one woman says. "I think you look very exotic. I love it."

"We were walking down the street and we stopped in our tracks and we looked at you," one young man says. "You look absolutely beautiful."

Carson asks one woman how old Michael looks. "I would say you are 28," the woman says.

"Forty-six, but I love you," Michael says.
Anita sees her nude picture on a building in Chicago.

After Michael's big surprise, Carson unveils Anita's nude photo. All she can say is, "Shut up!" "No, I won't shut up," Carson jokes. "There you are in all your nude glory. What do you think?"

"It's pretty hot," Anita says. Soon perfect strangers start weighing in on Anita's super sexy photo!

One man says her skin and eyes look awesome. "The way your body's positioned, you look beautiful," he says.

Another man says Anita looks confident and beautiful—and he's disappointed that she's taken! "Unfortunately, I see a ring on your finger. Are you married?" he says. "Because the woman I see up there, I would want to ask on a date, because that's beauty. That's real beauty."

Anita has finally developed confidence in her looks. "I don't feel like I have to hide in the corner and just can go about my life," she says. "I haven't even heard those voices in my head telling me all those negative things. They're a nonissue."

Get a bra that actually fits!

Carson Kressley on how to love your body

Look your best with expert beauty advice.
FROM: How to Look Good Naked
Published on March 14, 2008


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