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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

'Go Curvy' Host Sherry Lee Meredith Discusses Body Acceptance, Red Carpet Fashion

Kathy Zerbib |
March 6, 2015 | 10:08 p.m. PST

Senior Entertainment Editor

Sherry Lee Meredith hosts "Go Curvy" (Photo courtesy of Samantha Cohen and Matthew Rivera).
Sherry Lee Meredith hosts "Go Curvy" (Photo courtesy of Samantha Cohen and Matthew Rivera).
Sherry Lee Meredith is the creator and host of "Go Curvy," a live webTV talk show meant to inspire women of all fits and forms. 

Originally from Canada, Sherry moved to Southern California where she launched a chain of beauty salons and started her own line of beauty products. Just as her professional life was taking off, Sherry suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed. She dealt with mental and physical challenges in order to make a healthy recovery, resulting in a newfound appreciation for life.

Now reborn as a body acceptance advocate, Sherry's unique life story is one that deserves to be heard by all women. Her insight on the fashion and beauty industries encourage self worth, not body shaming.

Neon Tommy was able to interview the curve enthusiast to discuss current events and Sherry's backstory.

Neon Tommy: Since the Oscars and the Grammys just happened, I wanted to start off our discussion on red carpet fashion trends. What sort of styles or tailoring are unfairly deemed "appropriate" attire for curvy celebrities? Do thinner women have more leniency in their wardrobe choices?

Sherry Lee Meredith: Absolutely. You know, curvy girls [red carpet] style and mainstream style are really not that different. When curvy girls first starred in movies and then were on the red carpet, the designers wanted to just drape them in all sorts of fabrics. I don't think that did anyone any good. The problem with society going, "Oh, my goodness! Look, there's a curvy girl on the red carpet," is that they're not looking at the fashion. They're looking at what the fashion looks like on a curvy body. I think that's where the problem lies. There's definitely more options out there for mainstream sizes. I think a problem designers are having is when they do dress a curvy girl on the red carpet, they are put under so much scrutiny that they're really afraid to venture out there and dress a curvy girl. I find that really sad, actually. Any time Melissa [McCarthy] or Gabby [Sidibe] or any of the ladies are on the red carpet, it's just negative, negative, negative. I remember last year at the Golden Globes where Gabby was dressed in, I think, a gold dress. The stylist came under scrutiny and the designer said, "That's not the way I made the dress!" Designers are going, "Woah, do we really want to take the risk?" That's really sad. 

READ MORE: Golden Globes 2014: Backstage With The Winners

NT: That sounds terrible. But do you think that perhaps the concept of the curvy woman has become more accepted? It used to be all about the stick-thin model and now we see images of the ideal woman being a more voluptuous woman with curves. Do you think that evolution means we've progressed a bit?

SLM: I think we're getting there. It's a very organic movement of women standing up and saying, "Women have curves! This is what a woman's body looks like." One of the things I think is happening is women are becoming the decision makers, the bread winners. We're running our own lives. Women are saying, "Enough! I'm going to stop listening to you [the beauty industry], because I have the power of the almighty dollar. If you're not going to listen to me, I'm not going to buy from you."

NT: What do you think we can do as a society, perhaps, as women, to relieve the rest of the social stigma that plagues curvy women?

SLM: The one thing that we have to start - now - is we have to cut the [term] "real women" out of our vocabulary. When I hear that, I get this cringe. Like, "This is what real women look like!" We're all real women.

NT: Similar to that, Cindy Crawford's un-retouched modeling pictures were just leaked. It's really split down the line, as far as I can tell, of reactions. Some people are saying the images are empowering, some are saying it's bad for business because it's ruining the beauty industry. I know that you're a businesswoman, you've created your own line of beauty products [including a "sunless" tanning product called Unique Excellence]. What are your thoughts on that?

SLM: You know, when I saw that picture, all I could think of was that this picture makes her look like a mom, a woman and human. She's had children. We're the same age. When I saw that, I thought, "Yup! That's what our bodies look like, especially after having children." One thing that was really sad is that it wasn't her decision to have her pictures leaked. It's almost an invasion of privacy when someone just leaks something out there like that. I know there was a bit of backlash from the beauty industry, saying, "Oh, we don't want people seeing that picture." When you think about that, the beauty industry is about $56 billion in the U.S. Of course they don't want women seeing that picture because they want to sell products and we buy them to look like the Cindy Crawford who is airbrushed and perfect.

Sherry Lee Meredith advocates body acceptance (Photo courtesy of Samantha Cohen and Matthew Rivera).
Sherry Lee Meredith advocates body acceptance (Photo courtesy of Samantha Cohen and Matthew Rivera).

NT: So do you think people should be seeing pictures like that, or is there a certain amount of retouching that should be done and a certain amount of realism that should be kept?

SLM: I think we should be seeing pictures like that, but I don't think we're ready to. We're not there yet. Should things be retouched? I think they always will be. 

READ MORE: In The End, Cindy Crawford Is Still A Supermodel

NT: I think this really connects to body shaming and low self esteem, the fact that we may not be able to accept ourselves and that's why we flock to these perfect images of models. That really relates to me, being a college student. On college campuses, we are pushed to look our best. This can create a really unrealistic standard for us. How do you think college students can push past body shaming? Is there a connection here between this environment and the sexual assaults on college campuses?

SLM: One of the things I do on the show is [stress that] I really believe it's important for women to talk and share their story. I kind of want to go back and talk about, you know, from my own experience. I think about when [I was] in Canada, [when I attended] university, I was at my lowest point. No self confidence, no self esteem. I think about all the situations I put myself in, trying to be accepted. Trying to get any type of attention. Trying to find my self worth in somebody else's eyes. I think about all the dangerous situations I put myself in, trying to fit in that way. Looking for acceptance. I think, as a girl being in college, there's so much pressure to look a certain way. There's so much pressure to be perfect. That's a really hard time, when you're trying to find self esteem and confidence. Without those things, it leads us to make bad decisions. We make bad relationship decisions. When I look back at my 18-, 19-, 20-year-old self, if I could go back and say anything to her, I would say, "Hey, you're good enough. You're going to be okay." One thing we do as women - we're so hard on ourselves. At least every morning when you get out of bed, you need to look in the mirror and you need to see that person looking back at you. You have to be kind to [yourself]. We have to be better to ourselves. I know it's hard. It definitely has to start from within. 

NT: So what made you realize all of this? What led you to embrace curves and use the avenue of entertainment to try to help other people?

SLM: Well, it's certainly been a long road. I look back at all the things I did to my body. I probably first tried diet pills when I was 12. I tell the story of the mall doctor, [when] my mom took me to the mall to get diet pills. Then going to school and going through eating disorders… Horrible things I did to my body. When you're younger, you think you're invincible and your body will hold out forever and you can do whatever you want to it. It all kind of caught up with me in 2011 and I had a stroke. I was pretty much paralyzed on the left side of my body. One of the things that I remember so clearly when I was laying in the hospital bed [was thinking about] all the life I missed out on because I didn't feel well enough. I was waiting to start to live when I lost the weight. Life would be changed and I would be running down the beach in my bikini because I finally lost 20 pounds and life would be totally different. For the first time, it was like, "You might not ever get that chance again to run down, to even wear a bikini." Life really became real to me, at that point. I had all these young women working for me and I owned beauty salons. I was trying to be a great role model to them and I was thinking, "What good am I now?" All the years of abuse to my body and missing out on things in life, so I vowed that I would make a difference. Make a change. Through recovery and getting back on my feet, the idea of "Go Curvy" came. I thought, "This is how I can really make an impact and reach out across the world." I wanted to get the message out to women that you have to start living today. In life, you can't start when you lose the weight, or when you're going to fit in that dress that's been hanging in your closet for two years. You have to start today. You have to start appreciating your body, because I didn't… Your self worth is not dependent on your waistline. 

NT: So what can we expect from the rest of season three? I know it just started.

SLM: It did! I'm so proud that we are doing a series with [body image speaker] Pia Schiavo-Campo about body confidence. We're talking about healthy at any size, the diet industry, accepting your body and self love. More curvy fashion. We're hoping to continue our series on what is beauty, where we go out into the community at different events that we attend and we ask people the simple question, "What is beauty to you?"

NT: If you could interview anyone for "Go Curvy," who would it be and why would you have them on?

SLM: I love this. It would be Hillary Rodham Clinton, because I want to say that I interviewed the first female president of the United States of America.

NT: Just to finish, I wanted to ask if you have any advice for curvy girls, such as clothing brands that you think are curve-friendly.

SLM: My first piece of advice is a bit of consumer advice: buy from the manufacturers that use curvy models. There is this whole other thing that's kind of crazy - mainstream models will be padded up to model curvy clothes and I'm really against that. Buy from manufacturers who appreciate you as a curvy girl. Also, wear what works with your body. Be your own trendsetter. Be your own style. Don't be afraid to love colors and patterns. Find those bloggers who you can see a little bit of the style you like and reach out to them. That's what they love to do.

Check out Sherry Lee Meredith's show "Go Curvy," with new episodes streaming live every Thursday at 2 p.m. PST. Find her on FacebookTwitter and the "Go Curvy" Twitter

Reach Senior Entertainment Editor Kathy Zerbib here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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