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Chelsea speaks with writer Gianluca Russo about the body positivity movement, the dangers of diet culture, and the unfair costs that come with plus-size fashion.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome back to an all new episode of The Financial Confessions.

It's me, your girl, Chelsea Fagan, founder and CEO of The Financial Diet and person who loves to talk about money. And today, we are here with a guest to dive deep on a subject that has been widely requested by you guys at home, both for the fashion slash aesthetic angle, but also from a more social justice angle, and looking at the prism through which we all approach money based on the person that we are and the body that we're in.

I also recently interviewed YouTuber Mina Le who talks a lot about things like fashion, culture, beauty, et cetera. But often when we talk about these things, especially as they pertain to consumerism and our finances and the markets in which we're all operating, we often get requests to dive into these more specifically from a plus size angle because, when it comes to all of these consumer choices, as well as the way that we're treated in our bodies everywhere from a clothing store to a doctor's office, being in a larger body means something totally different. So while these conversations are complementary, I think they're both very much worth having, especially as they pertain to the more generalized fatphobia and way that that manifests financially and otherwise.

My guest today is actually someone who has collaborated with TFD before in various ways. He is someone who speaks really thoughtfully on these issues and is, for the first time ever, a debut author. He has a new book that just arrived today in the mail.

It's actually coming out August 16th. It's called The Power of Plus. And it's all about these topics.

And it touches on everything from the finance of it all to the fashion of it all. I'm very, very excited today to be speaking with writer, editor, and friend of TFD Gianluca Russo. Hello.

Hi. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you for being here.

And before we get started, I want to thank Avast for supporting today's episode of The Financial Confessions. Avast's new all-in-one solution, Avast One, helps you take control of your safety and privacy online. And I also want to thank ShipStation for supporting this episode of The Financial Confessions.

If you're a small business owner and want to save time and money when shipping your products, try ShipStation. With ShipStation, your small business can now access the same rates usually reserved for Fortune 500 companies without the contracts or commitments. Use my offer code TFC to get a 60-day free trial.

Make ship happen. So for those who may not be familiar with your work, can you talk a little bit about the beat that you kind of cover specifically? Absolutely.

So I've worked in journalism for the past five or six years. And I have specifically written about body diversity and how that intersects with the different facets of life, from fashion to culture to health, et cetera. And so I've really kind of been able to dig into what it's like to live in a larger body in our society today, and the many challenges that comes with it.

So that's kind of been my beat over the past few years, and really digging into that community aspect there. Do you feel like it's fair to say that there is a tax placed on people for being in a larger body? Absolutely.

I think it all goes down to the fact that this world is not created for or accommodating of people who live in larger bodies, despite the fact that we have statistics that show that the average American women, and same for men, as well, are plus size. And so it really goes down to the fact that things like fashion and health care and even the workplace are not accommodating and welcoming of diverse body types. And that's manifested in many ways, but I think it's something that really hasn't been worked on or we haven't seen much progress on yet, simply because people don't view it as a kind of discrimination or an important thing.

But the statistics show that a majority of people are plus size, so it is a more prevalent issue. But plus size people are taxed in many different ways. Literal tax, known as kind of the fat tax, which is a higher price that's attributed to clothing for having more fabric being needed, and then other ways, as well.

So I think it's definitely a really prevalent issue that we're seeing, but I don't know if everyone is aware of it or as open discussing it. How do you think that it's possible that we are in a society where, as you say, the majority of people, adults in the society are falling into a category which is oppressed and ostracized and sort of regarded as being an aberration when, statistically, they're the norm? I think a lot of it goes back to the fact that we don't see those bodies reflected.

And not just in fashion, right? So in fashion, we know that, for so long, we haven't seen any diverse body types reflected. But this also goes into all the other facets of life, too.

If you look at Hollywood, top CEOs, tech, all of the people we're seeing kind of broadcasted out there in headlines and imagery, what we're taking in is this very thin image because thin people, in a lot of ways, are granted those privileges to make their way to that spot. And so that's the representation we're seeing. We're not seeing the people in the middle of the country, people who live outside the coastal cities who are plus size who make up that majority statistic there.

We're seeing the rare exceptions, and then society is kind of painting this view that that's how everyone is, when really that's not the truth. That's just kind of the select few or the 30 some percent that do live in thinner bodies, but they take up the majority of the representation that we see. You know, I think a lot of people would identify the past several years as being a kind of body positive era, where I think these kind of maxims and framings were really gaining a lot of popularity, and I think were being jumped on by corporations and marketers.

And it definitely became, I think, a huge dialogue and discourse. But from where I sit, as a young-ish adult woman who's marketed to aggressively, as we all are, I don't feel, anecdotally, that a lot of the bodies that I've seen really changed. And that's also from even an ageism sort of perspective or a racial perspective.

Like, I do feel like when I think about what is presented to me as aspirational, despite the body positive noise, it still feels pretty homogeneous and pretty centered on thinness. What do you think have been sort of the progresses of body positivity, and where do you think it's sort of coming up short? It's a hard question because body positivity, at its core, had really great intentions, like you said.

And if you go back years ago, and even before a body positivity was a thing, and you just kind of had the fat liberation movement and other advocates, as well, there's these really great intentions and really great people fighting. I think what's happened in the past few years is we've seen this commercialization of body positivity happen, like you spoke of, and we're seeing kind of brands capitalize on this topic of self-love and how they can kind of market it. And in that, they have kind of pushed body positivity away from its core, which is about really centering plus size voices in the representation and accessibility of them, and they've made it something that's more just kind of a welcoming of all, feel good about yourself message, which, while important, is not what body positivity was set out to do.

And so in that, it's really kind of been watered down to where it doesn't mean as much. So it's hard because the conversation is more prevalent now, right? Like, people talk about body positivity now because they know the term.

They know people like Ashley Graham, who are blazing trails in their own ways. They are more familiar with it, but they're not familiar with the version that's going to push us to the next level of representation. They're familiar with this very watered down and comfortable version that is inclusive of all, but this movement necessarily didn't start to be inclusive of all.

It was specifically focused on larger bodies. So I think as it's been watered down, we're seeing less and less impact. There's, of course, a lot of progress that's been made there.

So people like Ashley Graham, Paloma Elsesser, Precious Lee, these top models who are now blazing trails at Fashion Week, we're seeing more bodies like them. We're seeing at least the conversation take more form. I mean, even Vogue, for instance, put Paloma and Precious and Yumi Nu and all these models on their covers.

The conversations are happening more, but the level of the conversations is not really in line with where body positivity started. And I think because of that, we're not seeing as much progress as you'd think we would be seeing now 10 plus years into body positivity, 30 plus years into fat liberation. We're not seeing the progress that we would have hoped for because it has kind of been co-opted and commercialized in these ways.

Yeah, and also a lot of the models that you mentioned, they are larger than standard size models, but a lot of them fall into a very, very specific body type that is still slim-waisted, full-chested, full-hipped, and is sort of like a very conventional hourglass figure, which at least, I think, from a normal, quote unquote, average woman's perspective, is like, in its own way, is still quite unachievable for most of us. Absolutely. And I think this is something that has frustrated a lot of plus size people because it's what they've coined the acceptable plus size body.

And while it is far different than the bodies we saw in The Devil Wears Prada, it is not really reflective of what the average plus size woman is. And so what designers will do, they will take these size 12, 14 girls and make them their muses, and they will only represent them. And while there's nothing wrong with these women, and I'm, in fact, a fan of all those women I listed, they're not the only body type.

I think that's the hard thing in the commercialization of body positivity, is that it's centered individual body types when it should center the spectrum of them, which goes far beyond the 24 into a 26, 28, 30 plus. And so that's the real problem here, is that even in this body positive movement, we're centering these very rare glamazons that, yes, while they might be a size 12, 14, 16, far different than The Devil Wears Prada and the imagery we've seen before, they're not reflective of the average plus size woman, which is a 16 to 18, and they're definitely not reflective of the spectrum of sizes above them. And so I think until we reflect that spectrum, we're not going to see this change that we need, because the only voices that are being reflected are the voices that are now normalized, which is a size 12, 14, 16, which, of course, is bigger than a 0 to 4, but it's not necessarily much different as it was a few years ago.

So in your book, you're specifically focusing on sort of the world of plus size, if we can call it, through the prism of fashion or the fashion industry. So from a layperson's perspective, if most of the country falls into the category of plus size, then one would think it would be very lucrative for businesses to cater to that market, even perhaps more so than they cater to what I guess we can call straight sizes, because that represents a larger market, because that probably represents more opportunity for new consumers, et cetera. But we do see with a lot of brands, especially certain types of brands, many designer brands, brands that project a certain image, like, we see kind of almost a complete avoidance of branching into larger sizes or making their clothes in different cuts.

And it's hard to understand what the financial rationale kind of is for that. Can you talk a little bit about the finances of why companies are making the decision to exclude such a potentially lucrative market? On paper, you would think that they would want to dive in.

They would want to dive into this market that's been estimated to be worth more than 24 billion. But in reality, there's a lot that goes into it that, from the outside looking in, you wouldn't expect. So of course, there's this whole topic of stigma.

A lot of designers don't want to do plus because, simply, they don't want plus size bodies to represent their clothes. We know that. That is nothing new.

The challenges from the financial perspective, though, come from the fact that diving into plus is a huge investment. For starters, designers in fashion schools are not taught to design for plus sizes. It's not something that is in their curriculum.

Even today, there are some schools today that will incorporate electives that you can design for plus if you want, but there is no plus sized curriculum in these top design institutions. So the designers of today, especially, who went to school 10, 15, 20 years ago don't know how to design for plus. So there already has to be an investment made in figuring that out.

That's done through fit modeling, which is where designers will bring in models of a size 12, 14, 16, 18. They'll fit their garments on them. They'll figure out how do I design for this, how do I accommodate for this, how do I design for curves.

And that is really expensive. Of all the designers I've talked to, that's the biggest investment they make, is in fit models. But that's the only way they can learn about how to design for these body types, because if they simply grade up, which is about adding two inches per size, it's not going to accommodate for the different ways that weight is held on different body types.

So these fit models are crucial, but that is a huge investment there to constantly be bringing in these models of different sizes to try your clothes on them, to make adjustments, alterations. That's a huge thing in and of itself. The other aspect of this is the marketing.

And this is why a lot of designers stray away from doing plus size, because reaching this community is more difficult than you would think. You'd think, you know, 68% of American women, it should be easy. We'll just put ads out like normal.

But this is a customer that's been underserved and ignored for so long, she's not looking in the same places. She's hesitant. She needs to be talked to in a different way.

And a majority of designers have never had plus size people around them, so they just don't know how to do that. The same with their marketing firms. They've never marketed to plus before, and marketing to plus is very different than marketing to straight sizes.

And so making that investment there means making a community aspect. And so it's hiring plus size consultants, it's talking to the community directly, incorporating their voices. So on all these different levels, there's money that they have to put into it.

It is a huge investment. And then, of course, it goes down to everything to stocking plus sizes in store, right? For so long, they've only stocked in extra small to an extra large.

How are they going to now double that offering in store? Where is the size? How are they going to ship those out?

What about all these different factors? So from start to end, there's a lot of money that has to be put in. There's a lot of potential to make that money back.

And I think that's what we're seeing designers are finding when they do it right. But the potential for failure is also so large that it scares a lot of people away. And they think, well, we're already doing so well as a business.

Does it really matter that much? Yes, there's potential that we could be even bigger, but there's also potential that it could fail and flop so bad. So is it really worth it?

I think that's what designers are thinking of a lot. And it's challenging because, while this is a huge market, there's a huge potential for failure. And a lot of people simply just don't even know how to take the first step into figuring out whether it's the right move for their business.

Why are plus size clothes, on average, more expensive? From a designer and brand perspective, it's because it takes more money to make them, simply because of the fabric, the fit modeling, all of those aspects. They'll kind of charge more for that.

I think that's why we have seen the fat tax come out, as it's been called, in which designers will charge more for plus sizes. Now, there is less of that happening. We're seeing more kind of price equality across the board because designers know how othering that is to charge more for plus.

But it's still prevalent. And from the business perspective, it's because it costs more to do plus, from everything from design to marketing. The whole investment there is more, so their initial reaction is to charge more.

But that really has a bad impact on the customer. You know, an area that I feel, an industry that I feel has become very, honestly, weird in this era of sort of nominal body positivity, but still largely very sort of crushing normative beauty standards that haven't really changed all that much, and in some cases, I mean, you look at top models who are pretty visibly underweight, and that's still, I think, very normalized, if not considered aspirational, something that I think has become very strange is diet culture, because the diet industry and the weight loss industry are both still hugely lucrative and dominant. And the outcome is generally the same, right?

Like, you're still seeing an emphasis being placed on weight loss. But I think it's now become sort of superficially less acceptable to speak strictly in terms of weight loss. You'll speak in terms of health and psychology and habit forming and all of this stuff.

But at the end of the day, a lot of it still boils down to calorie tracking with an explicit goal of weight loss. And again, as a woman in my demographic bracket, I'm marketed a lot of those things. And it's very interesting how we've sort of changed the ways in which we can talk about them, and yet not really seen a ton of changes in the sort of ideological underpinning of the industry, which is now, post-pandemic, more lucrative than it's ever been.

Can you talk about the state of the diet and weight loss industry right now? I think, at the end of the day, a diet is a diet, right? You can't escape it from what it is.

But with that commercialization of body positivity, the diet industry has tried to welcome in this message of self-love where it doesn't fit, which is why we see it happen so much that people will say, oh, this isn't a diet, it's a lifestyle change, when really, at its core, what is it? It's a diet to lose weight. And I think the more that we pretend that it's not, the more frustration is going to be caused.

But the diet industry really wants to capitalize on self-love because they know how much it can make them. It is a lucrative industry for a reason. They know that by saying, oh, this is just about doing what's best for you, if they change the narrative to be something that is more welcoming, more exciting, more appealing, they're going to bring back all these people who have strayed away from it because the diets they grew up with never worked.

So now they're going to try something new because it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change. It's something different. It's about self-love.

So they'll give that a try. It's something new. The diet industry is just trying to stay alive.

And it will probably always stay alive. People will always want to lose weight because it is easier to live in this society if you are of a smaller size. And the diet industry knows that.

They'll do anything to market to this community to make them shrink down, to make them smaller because they're feeding off these insecurities under this new umbrella of false self-love, when really we-- or I hope we-- can see through it, that it's really not real. And it's not going to make a change. I mean, we have the statistics that over 90% of diets fail.

That's not changing just because you slap on a sticker of self-love. That will always stay the same. And there's a reason they fail, but that reason they want to avoid.

What they'd rather focus on is trying to use your insecurities against you under this new smokescreen to try and ultimately get you to spend your money and continue to fail so that you continue to feed into it. Why do they fail, on average, diets? There's kind of a handful of reasons.

I think a lot of diets last for about two years. I think it's at the two-year mark that you see most of them fail. And most of it is about sustainability, right?

So when you're on a diet, it's usually very restrictive. It's something that, a lot of times, is not healthy. And you're following a very strict structure.

Over time, as life gets in, as you kind adjust to a non-strict life, you kind of go back to old habits. And your body goes back to its natural process, its natural metabolism that's not being changed because of a very low calorie regimen, a very high exercise regimen. It's going back to its normal state of being, which for a lot of people is bigger.

And I think we have so many statistics now that show genetics play a huge role here. Some people are bigger. That is their natural state of being in a bigger body.

And you can't change that. You might be able to change it for a few months, a few years even, but once you kind of fall back into your natural state of being, your body is going to reflect that. But when people follow strict regimens for so long, you're going to see a change, of course.

If you're only eating 1,000 to 1,500 calories a day, of course you're going to lose weight for as long as you stick to that. But the second you go back to eating a healthy amount of calories, which is above 1,500, you're going to see the weight come back on. You mentioned, when referring to diet culture, that people are always going to want to lose weight in this context because life is a lot harder the bigger you are, kind of period.

And it reminds me of people-- we're in a time right now where, for example, trans people are being very heavily targeted and vilified. And a lot of people, I think, will point to statistics showing poor mental health amongst the trans community, high levels of things like depression, self-harm, so on and so forth, which to me has always come across as like, well, yeah, I mean, they live in a world where they're constantly punished and ostracized for trying to live a normal life and be themselves. And you sort of kind of get the same sense from living in a larger body, of you're living in a world that is constantly feeding you very specific and negative narratives about your natural state and about the way you appear and so forth.

So obviously, it's going to be appealing in that context to want to change. And then the success of the diet industry, the prevalence of people wanting to lose weight is then used as evidence, well, see, this is what is more desirable for people. And it's sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'm curious if you can talk about that dynamic, and specifically how the health care that is received and sort of the interaction with the medical community by the plus community, how that plays into it. Absolutely. It's this whole conversation of cause and effect.

And it, like you said, extends far beyond fashion, which is the important thing here. So specifically in the medical industry, plus size people have a very difficult relationship there with doctors and medical professionals because of the years of stigma and abuse that have been prevalent within the medical industry. And so there are studies that have come out about this, but a lot of doctors and plus size patients have terrible relationships and no trust because, oftentimes, the doctors will resort to offering weight loss as a suggestion for any ailment, for any illness.

And that's a real problem because if you're going to the doctor about something that has nothing to do with your weight and they tell you the cure is weight loss, you're going to know that they're not really caring here. They're just looking at your body and making a judgment based on that. So there's just a really difficult relationship here because of the medical fat phobia that we have seen for so many years fester within the industry.

And of course, it goes beyond doctors, as well. It goes down to everyone to therapists and everyone who can have an impact on someone's mind and the way they view themselves and how they're feeling. They're projecting these stigmas continuously based on health.

And this topic of health is so dense, right? But we have so many statistics now and studies that show that not only plus size people, but if we're getting to the specifics, plus size Black people and plus size Black women, in particular, are heavily discriminated against in the medical industry, and they have been for decades now, for as long as it goes back. And that's because the stigma is leading that, right?

Doctors are looking at these bodies and they're judging them based on that. They're not judging them based on tests or blood levels or all those things. They're just looking at the body, they're looking at what the weight is, and they're making assessments solely based on that, and on the BMI, which, going back to its origin, was never created to be a measure of health.

It was created by a mathematician to be a way to find out the average size of a man. It didn't take into consideration all these different body types. It had nothing to do with health.

But it's been used as a marker of health now that has been weaponized against people to see whether or not your BMI is small enough to be deemed worthy of proper medical care or being worthy of being healthy. And it's crazy how prevalent that's become over the years, but it's really been used against the plus size community, who has been ostracized from the medical industry. And we're seeing this in the ways that they're rejecting medical care, how they're not taken seriously, how they're told that they are just fine when, really, there's a problem that is not being explored and not being investigated.

And so when it comes down to it, plus size people today are dealing with real discrimination, real oppression, real stigma that's going ignored because it's being viewed as something that they can change. Doctors are telling them, you don't have to be fat, you could lose weight, when really, is that true? Or can you just look into what the problem is?

Can you just have this conversation without rushing to that judgment? Most times, they cannot, which is why there's such a bad relationship there. When it comes to the finances of it, specifically, we talked at the very beginning about the, quote, fat tax.

And I think a lot of the comments we'll receive when we cover a specific subject, whether it is fashion, beauty, you mentioned also that, statistically, executives and people in high positions of power in professional capacities typically err toward a smaller body size, that basically in all of these areas that we touch on, and when we touch on the finances of them, we will get comments along the lines of, like, but you have to understand this is very different for people in a bigger body. Like, we have to shop different places. We have different opportunities.

We have to present ourselves differently. Like, we can't just do these things or opt out of these purchases the way someone in a smaller body might. So can you talk about the specific costs that are placed on people in larger bodies to overcome those things?

Absolutely. I think in my career so far, I have had the privilege of viewing this from different aspects. I started my career in theater, and then went to entertainment, to fashion, to tech.

And so I've seen it kind of take fold in all these different industries. And it's very similar in all of them. For instance, if someone is going for a job interview, right, and someone wears a size medium, they can go to the mall the night before and find something in their size easily.

They have an array of options. They can pick what fits them best, what they want. They can purchase that.

Whether it's an expensive garment or fast fashion, they can pick that. They're good. When you're looking at someone who wears a 3x, 4x, a majority of those brands that cater to them, which is about 20% of the entire fashion industry sells plus sizes, even though there's no specific there into what plus sizes means, since that's a spectrum of sizes, of those 20% of brands, only a handful, and a small handful, sell plus sizes in-store.

So these plus size shoppers, if they have a job interview the next day, if they're going to work in tech, where a lot of times people are wearing suits for these big meetings and all of that, they have to go and order online. Well, they can't do that the night before. And if they do, they're going to have to pay for that expedited shipping.

And so already, they have to go online. It's an othering feeling to begin with. It's frustrating to not have that accessibility in-store like people who shop straight sizes do.

There's a whole shipping cost then. Some brands who do plus offer free shipping for this reason. Some of them don't.

And so you have to pay for shipping. If you need expedited shipping, you're paying for that. Then it could come and not fit.

So you're paying for it to go back if they don't have free returns. Then you have to order it again. So all that time, your interview is probably already gone.

You already missed out. You probably didn't go. So there's that whole aspect there of little costs that continue to add up.

It's things like flying on a plane. If you're going for a job interview from New York to LA and you're plus size, you might pay for another seat so that you can actually fit and be comfortable, and not be judged and ridiculed by the person next to you. Of all the airlines we have, only, I believe, Southwest has a customer size policy that allows you to pay for the seat next to you and then they will refund you for it, which is not accessible to everyone because paying for two seats is not a little price.

But if it's possible, it's something you can do. But all the other airlines don't offer that, right? So if you want to be comfortable, you're upgrading or you're paying for the seat next to you to leave it empty so that you can fly and be comfortable.

Things like that, it's everyday little things that add up. These extra prices, these extra costs of being fat continue to add up and to separate plus size people into this category that is difficult to navigate, because it makes them think why should I even try. Why should I go for that promotion, why should I go for that job in New York City, why should I even try these things when I the odds are already against me?

Why do you think we see such striking differences in size as we move up the professional ladder? I think it's because the people who get to these higher-level positions have always been told it's possible or who are learning that it is possible. But it goes down to the fact that plus size people are not told to aspire to accomplish great things.

They're told from specifically the diet industry, and also their families and people closest to them, to shrink, to cover, to hide. It's a constant message that they're fed that they shouldn't make noise, they shouldn't be loud, they shouldn't try to be like X, Y, and Z. They should just try to stay in their own little lane and try to lose weight, and that's it.

And so they go on this path of lose weight or die trying, and they never try to do anything that's far outside of that because they're never represented to show that that's possible. And that was one of the most difficult things for me, as well, when I joined the fashion industry, is seeing that there was no one like me. I remember going to Conde Nast my first day and going through the magazine offices, going to meetings in Allure and Teen Vogue and Glamour, and kind of going through and seeing I was the only one there.

And this was a few years back, before there was more of an inclusivity revolution in fashion, but I was the only one who looked like me. And I was wearing, like, Old Navy at the time. And I felt so different to be walking around in the office where Anna Wintour is probably a few doors away, and knowing that I look the way I am.

And while that is supposed to be OK, or body positivity tells us that's supposed to be OK, in the moment, you feel so different that it's this thing, is it worth trying. Is It worth breaking down that door? For thin people, their size has never been a question.

They've always had access to the clothes. They've always kind of been perceived by society as someone who is capable. But when you're plus size, there is this stigma automatically attached to it, where people look at you and they think lesser.

They do not think you're able to do these things. They think you're a slob and you're lazy and you don't have big dreams. They think you're someone who just wants to eat the day away, and that's it, when really, we do have dreams, right?

We're people just as anyone else. There's no difference, other than the weight. And really, that shouldn't even be considered a factor here.

But it is something that's been used against us, just as straight stigma that's thrown at us all the time. So I want to take a quick pause here and once again thank today's episode sponsor, Avast. As a digital-first media company, digital safety is incredibly necessary in all forms, and is something that's very important to us here at TFD.

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And now, let's get back to our chat with Gianluca. So one thing that I think is really striking about the executive, and you speak about working in the tech space, where I think this is so prevalent, like, because it's an extremely male-dominated space, and a very specific type of man at that, let's be clear, but I think in the way that women, especially historically in industries like fashion and so forth, are-- there's a huge, huge social premium placed on thinness and having a certain appearance. And it's really, I would say, in general, a question of aesthetics, in large part.

I mean, obviously there's a lot of assumptions that go into it about discipline and control and this, that, and the other, but it is ultimately, I think, in a lot of cases, an aesthetic question, whereas when you look at like the male CEOs, so I feel like every day on Twitter there's like a tech CEO or a startup guy who, like, goes viral because he's, like, doing a challenge for his employees where, like, if you get down to a certain BMI or, like, you lose a certain amount of weight or, like, you bike a certain distance, then like your team gets a bonus or, like, you'll get a promotion, or like whatever they're doing. But it does seem in these spaces, in these more male-dominated spaces, that we're seeing a move towards health, and it's a question of we're getting healthy as a team, that often, again, just redounds to weight. And you look at these men, I mean, all of the tech CEOs that I can think of in my mind, like, I mean, some of them are like quite spindly.

Like, Jack Dorsey seems like, is that man OK? Like. And in many cases, we're talking about men who don't even appear to live super healthy lives, in a lot of ways.

They talk about the fact that they work 100 hours a week, which, like, could not be good for your body. But yet, there is this very specific and strange paradigm of health that seems to be also, in and of itself, about appearance, the way it is for women, but yet it's sort of under a different moniker, and maybe more socially acceptable for sort of the masculine contingent. Can you talk about that dynamic specifically, and how you feel that it's sort of filtering into our professional spaces?

Absolutely. Well, I think there's this divide between men and women. There's this huge gender divide on how they view health and how this topic is kind of manifested in those circles.

I think, for men, health often means weight, and that's it. And then if we're talking about strength, that means muscles. It's very cut and dry there.

And so with all these men in charge of tech and all these other industries, that's kind of the message that they're promoting, is health means how much you weigh, when really that's not the case, and health is so much more complex and multi-layered than that. But they really simplify it down to just that because that's what we've been told for so long, right, by the BMI and by all these different doctors and professionals, is that what you weigh equals what your health status or level is. Really, that's not the truth, but that's what they focus on because it's tangible.

It's a number that they can look at, as people who are number-focused, and say, all right, as a team, we lost 1,000 pounds in the past six months. That's so great. They can celebrate that number there.

But did it really have an impact on overall health? How do you measure that? How do you measure health?

For men, I think it all goes down to that. It's that cut and dry, it's that if you're fat, you're unhealthy, you're unwanted, you're undesirable. So try to be skinny, try to be very thin and ripped and as muscular as you can be.

It's this really simplified view of health that is really not helpful at all. For women, it's a little different because women kind of understand the complexities of it more because the industries have marketed them that way. And I think women do a better job of just knowing their bodies than men will ever.

And so they kind of the complexities there. They know that it's about more than health. They know that there's different aspects that contribute to weight gain or weight loss.

There's more room for conversation there. But when it comes to men who are in tech and in other industries are the people in charge, they kind of simplify it down to just lose the weight, get to that goal number, and your life will be perfect, and you'll be able to succeed and be successful and happy and healthy. That's not the case.

That will never be the case because everything is so more multi-layered than that. But I think body positivity has not even reached men in a tangible way yet. Definitely not in a way that we're seeing across industries.

I don't know how much longer it will be until that conversation even erupts. I think it'll be a long time, from my viewpoint and from where I'm at, which is very unfortunate, as a man myself. But I think it's the unfortunate truth that men have rejected body positivity and this conversation for as long as possible.

And they will continue to do so until it's time when it just has to erupt and happen. There are so many, like, male-specific diets that have, like, propagated over the past couple of years that are so deranged. And like, what is going on with you guys?

Like the carnivore diet. Like, there's so many guys on Twitter who just, like, talk about how they eat only-- Jordan Peterson being one of them, but there's a lot of them, and they talk about how they only eat raw meat, and it's, like, cured all of their ailments. And I'm like, you cannot tell me that this is not the equivalent of, like, the '60s housewife, like, just eat, you know, celery for five days and you'll lose all your weight.

Like, it is mind-boggling to me that this masculine-coded diet culture that is clearly just as deranged and clearly just as focused on really effective ways to manage calories is somehow perceived as more acceptable. Yeah. I mean, those men are something else.

I do not identify with that group of people, and never will. But like you said, it goes back to this toxic masculinity there, right? They want to seem strong.

They want to seem like cavemen, essentially, and people who can have these very lean diets and these physiques that are like Greek goddesses, like Hercules come to life. And it's like, OK, but is that real? And also, is it attainable?

Because it's not. Like, the people you see with those bodies did so in likely unhealthy ways, or had the genetics to be able to reach that easily. And honestly, good for them if you have those genetics.

I mean, that's not a choice. That's what you were gifted with, so good for you. Enjoy it.

But that's not attainable by all, right? I'm not going to go and eat a raw steak and then suddenly, like, lose 100 pounds. That's just not going to happen.

So to say otherwise is just a crazy fantasy that they've somehow constructed to try to keep up with this masculine image they want to present. Can you talk a little bit-- so you mentioned the limitations in choice when it comes to shopping for, for example, clothes. And I've also, I've read it quite a bit about the sort of tax that is placed on larger bodies to present as done-up.

You know, you're not going to be the way a very thin person might be able to walk out in a hoodie and still be perceived as kind of pulled together or minimalist and chic. That is just not an option because, if you are over a certain size, that same sort of styling is going to just be perceived as not putting in the effort or what have you. But we also hear a lot about, when it comes to a lack of options in terms of shopping for food, for example, food deserts, like, we often see these correlations between larger people often having more limited choices in terms of where they're buying almost all of their consumer goods.

And it's ironic that we talk so much about sort of reframing this through health when the accessibility of huge amounts of the country to even access fresh produce, things that are, quote unquote, the most healthy, is so limited. Can you talk a little bit about the socioeconomic landscape and the consumer landscape of being plus size? Absolutely.

I think the statistics show that a lot of people who are plus size come from a lower socioeconomic background. And like you said, that's because of things like food deserts. It's accessibility, availability, what can they get at a low cost point that is going to sustain them, and then, if they have families, sustain their children, sustain the people that they're taking care of.

There is so many factors there that we kind of often put blame on a person for, right? It's your fault you're this big. You made yourself this way.

And we don't take into consideration everything else that's going on around here. And so a lot of people are in what has been coined by the media the middle of the country. I hate that term because now I live in the middle of the country.

But I lived in upstate New York before this, where it was very similar. So I feel like there's middles of the country in every state. But these people who are kind of outside of these areas of availability and accessibility have to do the best with what they're given.

And oftentimes, that means things like fast food. It means things that are cheap, easy. These are also people who are likely working two, three jobs.

They have to make ends meet. They don't have a lot of money to spend on food, especially if they have young children, if they have families, if they're taking care of grandparents, all these different aspects here. Money is tight.

People do not have X amount of money to just throw around on food. They just need to make ends meet and make enough to sustain the people that they're taking care of, including themselves. And because of that, they go to places like fast food places, and places that are not, quote unquote, healthy, but that are available.

That's what they can go to. That's the resources they have. They have to make the most of it.

That's the position that they're in. And so what's going to happen is what we see. People are of a larger size.

People are unaware of this. They don't have access to these things. It's the whole cause and effect conversation once again.

My absolute all-time nemesis in terms of personal finance memes are the ones where it'll be-- a guy will go to the grocery store and get a bag of dried beans, a bell pepper, an onion, a thing of oil, whatever, and be like, I'm feeding my family of 6 for 40 cents a day. And I'm like, OK, but first of all, congratulations that you're eating beans 18 meals in a row. But also, how long does it take you to prepare that stuff?

Ho long does it take you to portion it out, to freeze it? Do you even have the proper storage to keep all that stuff? It is just to me the extent to which people feel empowered to shame people for opting for convenience, when as you put it, we're talking about a country where very few people are even paid a living wage at their primary job to not have to work more than one job, if they're raising a family.

The shaming that happens for just opting for something that is relatively convenient is just mind-boggling to me. Because those are the same people who would say the most precious thing you have is your time. So something that you mentioned earlier that stuck out with me, that I think is a really, really fascinating dynamic, specifically as it pertains to weight.

Although, we're interviewing soon, for TFC, Imani Barbarin who's a disability activist, specifically about disability health, chronic illness, and money and all of that. And I do think there's probably a lot, and she'll tell me, but a lot of the same dynamic with those issues as well, but specifically, as it pertains to weight. As you mentioned, the vast majority of diets fail.

It is very difficult for people to change their body size on a very long-term basis. The vast majority of women who give birth, for example, are going to have a body that is changed for the rest of their lives. And so by every data-driven metric, body types are-- they're features that are at least to a very large degree innate to us, the way other physical or genetic features might be.

Aa yet, the way we frame it, even the way I think otherwise pretty with it and woke people will often frame it, as you said, get thin or die trying, perpetually being on the pathway of changing your body, despite how unrealistic it is. And I do feel like we have the data. We have this body positivity movement.

We should be better about this. Why do you feel that there is still such a persistent myth that this is something that people should always be in the process of changing? Yeah.

It's something that I always think about, and I open my book with the sentence that we live our lives aimlessly chasing the concept of self-improvement. It's something that we're taught that we can change. We can't.

But the people in charge want us to think otherwise, and the people in charge being the people at the head of these industries. It goes down everything to the media and Hollywood and these images we're seeing. It's people who lose all this weight.

Right? People like Rebel Wilson who can lose all this weight at the age she is and celebrate it and now be this-- what she wants to be this kind of fashion goddess and on the red carpets and all these things. It's people who will have children, like you said, and then be on the red carpet and be like, it was nothing.

Like Christine Quinn in Selling Sunset, who I love, but at the same time, it's like she painted it as if her body was fine, and she was perfect, and it was great. People look at those, and they say, well, why can't I be like that? What's the difference here?

It's weird, and it's frustrating, because you would think people understand the disconnect here. You would think that that is not real, or that is rare, and that is not going to be the average experience here. But people still feel that way.

They want to aspire to something. They want to go on this journey towards being better, because they're told, a lot from the diet industry, from a very young age, that they can be. A majority of the people who struggle with this are people who went on diets when they were like three, four, or five years old, when parents started restricting what they were eating, sending them different snacks in elementary school.

That continues to build on itself. It's a mindset thing, and once it's in your minds, I don't think it's possible to take that out. I really have not met anyone who has been able to take that out of their minds, this idea of, well, I can be like this, if I try hard enough.

If I do the best that I can, I can get there. It's just not true. It's true for other things, which is I think why people want to try it.

They want to continue to attempt it for as long as they can, until they fail. Because it's like, if you work hard enough, you can accomplish anything. They apply that to their bodies then, and they don't take into consideration the fact that bodies are not things that can just be moved and changed and sculpt in whatever way you want.

They're living things that will be changed naturally throughout your lifetime. So it's something that we know the disconnect here. We know that this isn't real.

The images we're seeing on social media, those highlight reels, aren't real, but a lot of people still believe that, if they try hard enough, they can get close enough to where they can reach that level of confidence, of success, of affluence. But really, it's not going to be possible. And I'm not sure how we get there, when body positivity continues to be so commercialized.

I think that's the problem here. It's become so far away from where it was, that you have people like Kim Kardashian and Skim saying, this is for every body, and then they're promoting the exact same body types that we saw on Victoria's Secret for so long. How is that for everybody, when you're not reflecting every body?

And so people are going to think, well, I should look like that. I need to continue to push myself to look like that, because body positivity doesn't have the same meaning it did years ago, and so it's not helping people in the way it should be. Also, we did a video recently-ish about how celebrities and influencers gaslight us financially about beauty, and a lot of it in the video is about famous women who will have pretty drastic facial changes which are supposed to be lighting and makeup and this, that, and the other but are obviously cosmetic procedures.

Or they have flawless skin, which is the result of drinking a lot of water, but it's actually frequent laser treatments and having facialists on staff and all of that. Or men who have to go through these radical transformations to play in these superhero movies, and they talk about eating a lot of chicken breasts and lifting a lot of weights. When really they're also on performance enhancing drugs, and they're working 12 hours a day with a trainer and have their food micromanaged and all of that.

So there is, I think, when it comes to weight loss, you mentioned Selling Sunset, Christine Quinn, so I'm a long-time watcher of the Real Housewives. And it's gotten to the point now-- and trigger warning, but talking about disordered eating-- but it's gotten to the point now where basically, once a season, on the franchises, there's a woman who her entire storyline for that season is about the fact that she has a very serious eating disorder, that she is only able to maintain her weight. They're almost all incredibly thin.

Many of them seem visibly underweight, but they're only able to maintain that weight through whether it's drugs or super hyper restricting what they eat or compulsively working out or whatever it is. And it does beg the question, for every one of those women who's being transparent about what it takes to maintain this radical weight loss, how many of them are doing the exact same thing and not saying anything about it? And similarly, when you see these celebrity weight losses, it's very difficult, because for example, when Adele lost a lot of weight, there was this really I think very, very tedious discourse about like, oh, people are mad at her for losing weight.

I did not see one single person who was like, I'm mad at this woman for losing weight. However, I do think, for most celebrities who lose a very, very substantial amount of weight, we're talking hundreds pounds or more and maintain it, there is a collective delusion that we have to engage in that this was done by totally above board methods that are accessible to the average person, that can be reproduced, that are not very expensive, that don't involve surgical interventions, that don't involve very heavily monitored eating, working with a trainer, all of these other things that are totally inaccessible. And I do feel like the really maddening part of it for me is that we're not allowed to be honest about what these things actually take in practice.

Absolutely. It's like this whole smokescreen of aspiration that you can look to. I think someone like Rebel Wilson, for instance, who lost weight and then went on a whole press tour about it and talked about how great it was and how much better she is, it's doing a harm here.

I think if you want to lose weight, and many celebrities do for many different reasons, that's fine. Go ahead and do that, if that's your personal choice. Go ahead.

How they then market that and speak about it is the harm. And so someone like Adele I think handled it very well in the way that she spoke about it and really didn't care and didn't want to go out and promote it. She just said, yeah, I did this, because I wanted to, and that's it.

And I think that's the way it should be. Right? If you want to lose weight, go ahead and do it, but no one talks about how they do it.

Right? And if they do, it's like an article in Men's Health or Women's Health about follow this diet on how Rebel Wilson lost 100 pounds in three months, but it's nothing that's tangible. It's something that's real, because they don't want to show what's real.

They know that then that strips away the aspiration aspect there, because people will know, well, if you didn't just do it by eating less, then how am I going to do it? I don't have access to personal trainers, and I can't go to the gym in the morning and the afternoons. I can't do these things.

I have two jobs. I have kids. I have all these responsibilities.

Once they pull back that smoke screening, you see how they're actually losing weight, how they're actually having these major Hollywood transformations. You see that it's never going to be attainable, and at that point, even though we know this, but once people see it for themselves, they're going to know, oh, I'm not going to follow this. I'm not going to give in to it, and then there's no money to be made, ultimately.

Right? There's no conversation to be had. There's no press headlines to be given to Rebel Wilson anymore.

So things like that are going to take away this glamor aspect to losing weight, because you'll see it's not, oftentimes, just eating less. Right? These people are, like you said, using drugs and using trainers and having very strict regimens, and people prepare their meals for them.

They're having all these things that a normal person has no time, money, or resources for. Once they're told that directly, they're going to stop falling for it. It's frustrating and saddening that people still do fall for it, but it's what they're fed.

It's the images that they're given. It's what they're told continuously in the media and through these celebrities and people who they look up to. That's the hard thing.

People in these positions of power have these platforms for a reason. People are looking up to them. They're seeing what they want to do.

And so when these people are going to show them the truth, those people are going to walk away. So they're not going to do that. They're going to paint you a version that is aspirational, something that you can look to, something that you can feel inspired by, and that you can follow.

So that you continue to feed into them, so you continue to support them, and be a part of their journey, and so that they can be a part of yours. None of that is true. None of that is helpful, but it's what we continue to see.

Not to bring it back to capitalism, my fave, my problematic fave, but how much-- because again, so much of this shit is cognitive dissonance, like especially when you consider the numbers, especially when you consider how many Americans fall into this very category. Do you feel on some level that it all falls in some way to the fact that it's very lucrative to keep America on this hamster wheel, or do you think it's more than that? I believe that is the issue, 100%.

I think capitalism is the issue, will always be. That's why I do not have as much hope as some people, that we're going to see a lot of progress and solve these issues. Because I think capitalism runs everything.

And I think that is what the main issue is here. Everything down to the medical industry is being run by money, and people are not-- that's not going to change. It's only going to get worse.

Right? Maybe it'll get better a little, and then it'll get worse. It'll go back and forth, but I think that is the main issue here is capitalism.

Everything from fashion, to the medical industry, to Hollywood, to the media, it's all run by this. That's what's force feeding us these messages of get thin, or die trying. I don't think that's going to change, unless capitalism itself changes.

When you talk about the medical incentives specifically, why is it, do you think, that it is so much easier, in many cases, to default to treating the issue of a larger body, of defaulting and redounding to losing weight, than to explore what health really means in all of these different bodies? I think it's easier to look at it from that perspective. I think the medical industry has used the statistics about how your body operates at a certain weight as the scapegoat for a lot of problems.

And so instead of digging deeper, they know cut and dry that, if you are of a higher weight, you are more predisposed to these problems. That's probably the problem. Let's try that first.

If that doesn't work, maybe we'll see something else. They're going for the easy answer. A lot of that is attached to the stigma that is faced against these larger bodies.

And so these doctors look at these patients. They see there of a larger weight. Their instant reaction, based on that bias and stigma, is to offer weight loss, because they think, based on everything they know, that that will be the cure for a majority of the problems that they are predisposed for.

So let's try that first, and then we'll dig in deeper. It all really goes back to this bias and stigma here that they are first judged with and aren't taken seriously for. And there are many people who have gone on their social media platforms in the media to talk about how they were just rejected for so long, and by the time that they figured out there was a problem, it was too late.

They were just told to lose weight. When weight wasn't the problem, and the doctor finally looked and saw that, it was too late. The problem was there.

There had to be a different course of action. And so I think they judge by the weight first, because they look at things like the BMI and what those studies show them. That yes, maybe if you are of a higher weight, you are predisposed to x, y, and z.

You can have a higher risk of all of this. That is all true. However, that doesn't mean that it's going to be the problem.

There can be another problem there that a thin person is experiencing as well. But if you can't look past the weight and not consider the weight there, then you're not going to see that. But people can't look past the weight.

When it comes to someone who is watching this and feels like they're on a hamster wheel of consumerism driven around feeling like they need to change their body to have the career that they want or to be perceived a certain way or to shop at certain stores or whatever it might be, how do you advise people to, as best they can, unplug themselves from that matrix? My best advice is to surround yourself with people who can help you through that. It is an incredibly difficult journey, an incredibly difficult battle, and it's so complex.

I think that's what frustrates me is when people don't talk about the complexity there. That it's so up and down, there's never going to be this moment of peak body positivity of peak self-love. It is such a journey, because you're force fed these messages for so long.

It's so hard to pull away from them. My biggest advice is to really find those communities who accept you, center you, who can give you advice, a listening ear, help you through this, who can relate, who understand that specific struggle. I think the beauty of the plus-size community is that there's not one plus-size experience, as opposed to different identities.

Any one can be plus size, anyone of any background, race, or any industry. So you can find people who specifically understand your struggle, your battle, your journey. Surrounding yourself with them I think is the key in being able to start to work forward, to take steps forward.

I don't think there's a point where someone can say, I'm healed. I don't think that's possible, but I think there's a point where they can say, I'm working on it, and I'm getting better. And that's only possible when you have your community around you.

Now, to throw it in the other direction-- and if you can solve this, then listen, that's real peace level stuff. But like almost every millennial woman I know has like a tenuously body positive outlook and is like I'm trying to get better about how I look, just like decoupling my idea of health from my idea of weight, like all this good stuff, like focusing on what makes me feel good and give me energy and strength and whatever. As a mom, a Boomer mom, who's like going to just be like punishing themselves relentlessly and eating SnackWell's cookies and berating themselves for not being the size they were before they gave birth a couple of times until they die probably.

They're just really hooked up to that 24/7 body shame machine that I think-- and of course, I'm sure it affected men in a lot of ways as well, but I think for women, of our mother's generation and beyond was I think just like 10 times I think what a lot of women our age experience in the media and their culture around them. And a lot of us, I think, have that feeling of like I want her to feel differently about herself, all these women in their lives. Like when you're speaking to someone else, what do you say?

It's hard to know what to say. I don't think there's one answer. I think first like listening is very important to the certain circumstances.

What's hard is how generational it all is, and you mentioned this, but all of this is passed down. I think taking the time to understand that, first, how that impacts someone is really important. I think what the problem is nowadays is people want to help others first rather than help themselves.

So a lot of women in those situations will say I support everybody. They have all these things. They'll promote these messages that are really good, but do they feel that themselves?

Not really, because they're not working on it themselves. I think a lot of it is just like being honest and saying, this is what I'm going through. This is what I struggle with.

This is my insecurity. Having that conversation, at least opening up the door for it, and opening up with other people to find what that common connection is there, but it's a hard situation. I don't think anyone knows the best way to be able to go about that, because it is such like a personal and individual conversation.

But I think the more that we at least offer honesty and transparency and go on that self journey and really figure it out internally, like what's the cause of this? Like why do I hate this about myself? Why does this bother me?

Figure that out, I think the closer we're going to be able to making progress there. One boundary that I have found to be quite effective is no negative food talk at the table of shooting that [BLEEP] down relentlessly. Like if a woman is like, oh, I really shouldn't be eating these fries.

I'm like, then either don't eat them, or don't say that. We're eating the fries. The fries are delicious.

We're not going to neg the fries and make them taste like ash in our mouths, because we shouldn't be having them, like not allowing the negative talk. Yeah. Absolutely, and I think that's the thing is people it's their like instant reaction to say things like that.

Right? They're not even really thinking about it. They just say, because that's what they think they should say in that moment, but it really does have an effect.

Right? So setting those boundaries is important, which is also why putting the people around you as people who reflect that message is important as well. So you're in comfortable spaces.

But for a lot of people, saying stuff like that it's just an instinct reaction. It's something they've done forever, and they really don't even understand the impact it has, but like don't say it. Be aware of the impact that your words have.

That's the least that we could do is like be aware that our words have impact. Yes. They make food taste worse.

So we're almost out of time here, but the time has come. It is our famed, our beloved, our-- what? What's another like good superlative?

Infamous. Our infamous questions that I have to scroll a million miles to go get to. Our rapid fire questions, here at TFD.

As a reminder, Gianluca, you are free to take, pass, whatever comes to mind. These are purely financial in nature, so whatever comes off the top. What is the big financial secret of your industry, and can we say for the fashion industry?

For the fashion industry, the big secret that I really hope is not so much of a secret anymore, but it's that the people who are the most successful come from money and have that level of privilege, where they can bypass those entry level phases. I don't think I know many people who make it to the top who do not have that esteemed level of privilege. So that is definitely the big secret that I don't feel is a secret, where people still act like it's not a known fact.

Well, depressing, but validating, I guess, because I always felt that must be the case. Like man, like friggin, I was like taking a doom stroll through-- I have a couple heiresses that I do not follow on Instagram, because it would be so bad for my mental health, but I occasionally go look at them or whatever, like not heiresses, socialites. And one of them is, like I'm sure you know her, she's a huge fashion person, Lauren Santo Domingo.

She's got the most aspirational-- it's ridiculous. I don't even personally find it that aspirational, because it just seems too perfect. But anyway, she's like a fashion maven, like launched this like really famous modus operandi or whatever, like she's whatever.

I googled her husband, a billionaire, and not even a self-made, inherited a billion like multibillion dollars. And I'm like, why do I look these things up? Why do I even want to know?

Right. Then, it makes me feel bad. I felt that way when I watched My Orthodox Life on Netflix, and it was like of this woman who left her like orthodox background to move to New York and got remarried and started this fashion empire.

I was like, oh my god, a self-made story. We love this. She literally just married the husband of the leading modeling agency in the world, and then he gave her a shoe line, and that was it.

I was like, wow, not as inspirational as I had hoped. Listen, don't meet your heroes financially, I think is the takeaway. What do you invest in versus what are you cheap about?

This is hard. I definitely feel like I invest in clothes. I buy a lot of clothes, but I'm like smart about it now.

Whereas, years ago, I was like just buy every fast fashion thing. Now, I buy things that are of higher quality, last longer. I invest in a lot of that, I feel now, as opposed to just spending like $30 on a shirt.

I definitely put more money towards buying things of a higher quality which is not an easy thing, but it's something I'm trying to get better at doing, as I get older. What am I cheap about? I definitely am cheap about-- it's the worst, but I'm cheap about everyday costs, so little things that really have no impact, and I really shouldn't care about.

But even when I'm in New York, things like I'm not paying an extra $2 for an Uber. That is like surcharged right now. Like things like that that really will have no impact on my weekly budget but that, in the moment, look like a lot more money, I'm like, no, I'll pass on that, but then I'll go spend like $300 on a suit.

So the balance there I haven't figured out yet, but I'm working on that. Some would say that opting out of those little day-to-day costs are some of the most important things to get frugal about. What has been your single best investment, and why?

My best investment I would say is-- I think my best investment would be going to-- and it wasn't a huge investment-- but going to community college I think was my best investment and like paying that out and not having to worry about that and getting my education there. And then even when I went to my four-year university, I went like local, so it was super cheap. Making that investment and doing that, rather than going to my, quote, unquote, dream schools that I wanted to when I was like young and bright-eyed I think was the best investment I made.

My favorite answer of all time, as a fellow community college student who doesn't and didn't have student debt, I love to see it. What has been your biggest money mistake, and why? My biggest money mistake is the amount of money I spend on food all the time, especially when I'm traveling.

That is the thing that I'm like, oh, I'll just write it off like it's for work or whatever. I spend so much money on food any time I'm traveling for work, which is like fine, I guess. Like live it up.

Enjoy it, but I spend a ton of money on that, which I probably should not do. And even when I'm home now, I like order all the time. Because it's like I don't have the time to always go shopping, always spend an hour cooking, even though I love cooking.

But I think, as I've gotten older, and now I enjoy it, I'm like, no, if I'm going to cook a meal, I'm going to do like the full thing, make it Instagrammable, the full moment. Which I've made it, like when I'm not doing that, I'm like, oh, I'll just order something to the house. It's fine.

So I definitely spend a lot of money. I'm fueling that Uber Eats every day. So I would say that if my worst investment there.

Wish I could say I can't relate to that, but I can. I want to do a challenge where it's like no takeout, no restaurants for a month. You could.

I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it. Oh, it's hard, especially in New York.

When I was in New York, that's like the-- I can't imagine doing it in New York. Also, New York, my kitchen was so small, I wasn't cooking there. Like now that I'm in the desert, I have room to cook.

But when I was in New York, I was like, I'm not cooking here every night. Like the amount of dishes I would have to do is just not worth it. Yeah.

I love my kitchen, and I do cook in it a lot, but that take-out, man, it just hits. OK. What is your biggest current money insecurity?

My biggest insecurity right now is that I am about to be 25, pushing into adulthood, off my parent's insurance. And what I worry about the most now is being able to pay like all my bills at once and like making that leap from like half adult to full of adult like stresses me out, especially because I want to buy a home in this market, not fun. So things like that, thinking like can I pay for every single one of these bills?

How am I going to manage that literally keeps me up at night to think about that. So that is like my biggest thing right now is like how do I make that jump into adulthood, where I'm paying for absolutely everything, including a mortgage and not go bald and pull my hair out? So that's the hard thing on my mind.

Listen, you're doing better than I was at 25, and also, that's what a budget is for. What has been the financial habit that's helped you the most? I learned this from being a freelancer, that my money like directly goes into two accounts to separate that for paying for taxes and then like what I can use.

Separating those and knowing like, all right, I'm going to be paying 30% to 50% of this in taxes, like I need to save that put it aside. And having those separate accounts as been like the biggest blessing. So that at the end of the year, when I have to pay taxes, it's not shocking, and I already have the money set aside for that.

Similarly, when I was a freelancer, every time tax day came around, I was like, oh, what? Uh-oh. So last question is when did you first feel successful, and what does that word mean to you?

Oh, that's hard. I think I first felt successful the day that I had my first article published in Teen Vogue, when I was in college. It was started my junior year, and I just remember that moment just being like the craziest moment.

I was like in my creative writing class, at 7:30 in the morning, and ran out into the hallway crying. And it was just like a moment where I was like, oh, I did this. Like I wanted this so bad.

I had started reading Teen Vogue right before their huge revolution, ahead of the 2016 election. And I was like I want to be here, and in two years later, I was at the magazine. And it was the craziest thing and seeing that first article go up with my name.

And that for me is like the biggest moment of success, and I had a lot of exciting things happen then and done great things. But just that one moment, writing that one article, which it literally was about a scholarship I got. It was really about community college.

So it has nothing to do with what ended up doing and like nothing to do with fashion, but just the fact that I made it there, when I wanted to. Set that goal, and broke in at a place I never thought I would have access to was like the most defining moment for me. And great stuff has happened, but nothing like has matched the joy of that moment.

I love that. Well, I'm sure when you go visit your baby in a bookstore, it will have a similar level of importance. So your book is The Power of Plus.

Please, remind people where they can go to pre-order it. Yeah. Absolutely.

You can pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, all these other bookstores as well. All of it is online, a bunch of indie bookstores as well, which are really great, and there'll be more leading up to the launch as well, where they can pre-order. Awesome, and we will be linking, of course, to all of his socials down below in the Show Notes and Description.

Gianluca, thank you so, so much for coming by. And thank all of you guys for tuning in, and I will see you next Monday at an all-new episode of The Financial Confessions. Goodbye. [MUSIC PLAYING]