Unforgettable You: Master the Elements of Style, Spirituality, and True Beauty

Unforgettable You: Master the Elements of Style, Spirituality, and True Beauty

by Daisy Fuentes

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416563259
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 05/11/2010
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 799,054
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Daisy Fuentes has been redefining health, fashion, beauty and fitness for almost 20 years. From MTV to network television, a slew of cable series and specials, she has the ability to move seamlessly between music, fashion, fitness and style, and to own these categories as a host, expert and guide. 

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One
Who Are You? Baby, Who Are You?
Knowing Who You Are

“You have come here to find
what you already have.”
—Buddhist aphorism

I’M FROM JERSEY. And when I was seventeen, I thought that I could not ask for more out of life than big hair, bright nails, Camaros, shopping malls, attitudes, and accents. And then one day, my world shifted slightly and forever.

My next-door neighbor worked for Piero Dimitri, a couture Italian designer. They needed someone to fill in last-minute at a photo shoot. Without realizing what I was getting myself into, I headed into the city with my neighbor. I thought it was a one-shot deal, but it became a regular gig, and then I became Piero’s “fit model.” (The fit model is used to fit the samples on as they are being made. Back in the eighties, fit models were taller and curvier, but later Kate Moss became everyone’s fit model, and I was no longer easily fitting into sample sizes. Fortunately for me the TV world came calling before that became a problem.

After I’d been working for Piero for a few months, he suggested that I take on more jobs and get an agent. This is when I started to really see the world outside of Jersey. I would take the PATH train into the city, and in ten minutes I was ten miles away and ten years ahead of anything comfortable or familiar.

All of the other girls came from other countries. They had their own apartments. They flat-ironed their hair. Their nails were short and barely polished. Their clothes were black and boring and could have used some kick-ass accessories. But mostly, their hair was in dire, dire need of some serious back-combing and hairspray.

And then there was me.

One day, Piero asked me to stand in front of a fulllength mirror in his studio. “Daisy, look. Look at yourself.” I had my big Jersey hair, my fluorescent painted nails, a wider-than-wide white belt over my dress, chunky accessories. I thought I looked pretty damn fabulous. “What is the first thing you notice?” Piero asked me.

“Well, my belt, I guess.”

“Exactly. And what’s the next thing?”

“My nails? My hair?”

“Exactly. Exactly.”

I stared at him. Was he trying to make a point?

“Darling, why would you want people to notice your belt, your hair, your nails, before they notice your face?”

—Gandhi

“Live as if you were to die
tomorrow. Learn as if you
were to live forever.”
—Gandhi

This was the first of many valuable pieces of advice that I would respectfully ignore. When I was seventeen, I thought I knew it all. In fact, I thought I knew it all until I was about twenty-five. Until I was about thirty. OK, until about right now. The truth is, I’ll never know it all. I will always be on a journey of rediscovery. Once I realized this, my path to discovery truly began.

Note

Unforgettable Tip:

Only a fool knows
everything.

Unforgettable You

The purpose of this book is to help you become a more aware, enhanced, happier version of yourself. I have spent the last twenty years of my life learning about myself (mostly the hard way), and I still have the nerve to continue to evolve and change. When I was younger, I was so stubbornly trying to “be myself” that I never stopped to find out who I really was and who I really wanted to be. I hope that this book inspires you to take the time to discover who you are, no matter what age you may be. I only really began to discover who I was when I was in my thirties, but, my God, I wish I had started earlier. I could have been dan-ger-ous. This is the book that I’ve been looking for since I was twenty.

Note

Unforgettable Tip:

Be yourself, but always
be willing to be a better
version of yourself.

“After all these years, I am still
involved in the process of self-
discovery. It’s better to explore life
and make mistakes than to play it
safe. Mistakes are part of the dues
one pays for a full life.”
—Sophia Loren

Let’s Begin at the Beginning

I had been working as a model for a few years when I was offered a job as weather girl for Univision. I knew nothing about the weather, but I knew how to speak Spanish, and I could read a teleprompter. I figured I would give it a shot. I did not really stop to think about what I was getting myself into. Meteorology. Satellite weather maps. Live television. Live television! Did I mention it was live TV? What was I thinking? I wasn’t, thank God. I just went for it. I think the station executives stayed interested in me because I just wasn’t fazed by any of it. No matter what challenge they threw at me, I would tackle it as though I’d been doing it for years. I was giving it my all, but I wasn’t obsessing over every little thing. I learned from my mistakes, I listened to advice, and, most important, I was having a good time. I was having fun, and I really loved that my parents were proud of me. During my school years, my grades were terribly average; I was enjoying the newfound glory of doing something I was good at and came naturally to me. That said, I knew I did not want to be doing weather for the rest of my life. Yet at this point, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I certainly didn’t think this TV thing would last.

I would come home and sit on my parents’ couch and watch MTV. I loved to watch the original veejays, and I would envision myself as one of them. I could really see myself on TV, interviewing the world’s biggest stars, traveling to the hottest hot spots, being invited to the best parties. “That is my dream job,” I told my mom.

“Well, send them a tape,” Mom said.

“That’s not how it works,” I informed her (remember, I knew it all back then). “You have to have a big agent, get an audition. All that stuff.” Remember, this was before reality shows—the only way to get the job was to audition and interview for it.

“Just send them a tape.”

I still thought she was wrong, but I put together a tape anyway. My friend at the station helped me to splice together some of my weather pieces, and we sent off the tape. At this time, MTV did not have a Spanish division, but footage of my Spanish weather forecast was all I had. I sent it, then tried to forget about it. Somewhere, in an MTV office, Steve Leeds (the on-air talent director) received a tape of some chick doing the weather in Spanish. He later told me that he didn’t understand a word of it, but he thought I was cute enough, so he stashed it under his desk. He forgot about it until eight months later, when another MTV exec told him they had been interviewing hundreds of girls, looking for someone to host the one-hour Latin MTV program they were launching. They couldn’t find anyone who fit the bill. He pulled out my tape, and out of nowhere, I got a call for an audition.

Oh, that audition. It was not my finest hour.

I was so nervous that I woke up early, giving myself about six hours just to get ready. And my eye was swollen shut from some sort of insect bite I’d gotten while I was asleep. That’s it, I told myself, I’m not going. It’s just not meant to be. But for three hours, I iced my eye and put on every cream in the medicine cabinet. I did a bunch of makeup tricks, made my hair big, and then flipped some of the hair over to cover most of the damage. After a few hours and lots of makeup, my eye didn’t look terrible. Oh, and I also took Benadryl (perhaps not the wisest decision).

I then got dressed in (are you ready for it?) a white leather miniskirt, a white leather-fringed jacket, and white leather boots. Also fringed. (See the picture. This was in at the time, I swear.) I got on the PATH train, and by the time I reached the city, there was a sleeting ice storm. I could not get a cab anywhere, so I had to walk to the studio. I arrived forty-five minutes late, and I was a mess. My hair was flattened down, I was covered in disgusting New York City sleet, and I was doped up on Benadryl.

When I walked into that studio, I was sure I was never getting the job, so I just went for it. I played to the camera, I tried not to be nervous, and I set myself at ease. My executive producer, Barbara Corcoran, later told me that this is what saved me: “You looked like a mess when you walked in, but once you got on camera, you lit up.” If it had not been for my weather gig (which, if I’m being honest, was not my dream job), I would not have had the experience in front of the camera or the comfort level to get through that audition. This is why I am a true believer in giving it my all, no matter what I am doing. There is a purpose for everything, even if it doesn’t quite make sense at the moment. In life, seemingly insignificant “gigs” are exactly what prepare you for “the dream job.”

Note

Unforgettable Tip:

Whatever you do,
no matter how trivial or
how fabulously important,
do it with integrity, dignity,
and style.

Still, when I walked out of that building (my hair fully flattened and stuck together now, the gray sleet stained into all that white leather), I was certain that I was going back to reading weather maps for a few more months. There was a lot yet to learn. And then, of course, the impossible happened. MTV called me the next day and told me I had the job. And that’s when everything really changed.

I stepped into a world of celebrity and fame and parties that I never knew actually existed. And I found out quickly that there was a lot to learn. There were fancy dinners with seventeen pieces of silverware and cocktail parties with the most glamorous of the glamorous. I was mingling with the world’s biggest rock stars, making small talk with newsmakers, and rubbing elbows with top supermodels. I was in over my head.

The whole “it” crowd was fascinating to me (still is), but I was always particularly intrigued by a certain type of woman who really stood out. At every party, there was one woman who possessed a beauty and elegance that set her apart from the crowd. Sometimes she was a rock-and-roll chick or maybe a high-society lady, sometimes she was a downtown girl clad in vintage, and other times she was a perfectly polished uptown gal. These standouts were all unique, but they had certain traits in common: presence, grace, elegance, style, and inner tranquility. They knew who they were. They were secure, sure of themselves, and they had an opinion.

I was sure of one thing: I wanted to be like these women.

“Always act as though
you are wearing an
invisible crown.”
—Unknown

At this time, I was young and impressionable. Everyone was saying, “Dare to be different” and that old clichÉ “Be yourself.” Sure, we were all being ourselves, but we had no idea who the hell we really were because we were mostly imitating each other. We still had so much to learn. The first lesson was not to take the “Be yourself” credo too seriously. Always leave some room to grow and improve who you are, because the road to selfdiscovery should never end.

Note

Unforgettable Tip:

Before you can “be
yourself,” you must find
out who you really are.

We must all take the time to get to know ourselves. What do you like? What do you dislike? In my early twenties, I was constantly surround by people who had so much—so much fame, money, notoriety, experience, class, and so on. I was intimidated at first. To be honest, everyone was giving me advice about what to do, how to act, who to be. And in return, I was giving advice on everything. I gave advice (or dictated) to my parents, to my sister, to my friends. We were a bunch of young people dishing out advice about things we knew nothing about. Everybody thought they had the secret to success, including me. As time passed, I learned to smile politely and take only the advice that I truly admired and that made sense to me. I also learned to keep some of those unsolicited opinions to myself (I do wish I’d learned that sooner).

Note

Unforgettable Tip:

You can “be yourself”
and still work on yourself
at the same time.

—New Jersey aphorism

“Opinions
are like assholes.
Everybody’s got one.”
—New Jersey aphorism

I discovered that I was most inspired by those who managed to maintain their individuality, self-respect, and dignity. By observing, I discovered that “being myself” meant taking inspiration from these men and women but never imitating them. The truth is, nobody’s perfect. Also, I realized early on that if you try to imitate the rock-androll chick, the high-society woman, the downtown girl, and the uptown lady, you end up a hot, schizophrenic mess.

The mistake we all make in our youth is adopting others’ points of view without really thinking, Is this my point of view? It is so important to self-evaluate and ask ourselves who we are so that we are not constantly adopting the style and opinions of others. Popular opinion does not automatically make it your opinion.

To know yourself fully, you have to question yourself. Throughout this book, there will be several questionnaires. Some I have made up, some I have pulled from other places. Let’s start with my very favorite, the Proust Questionnaire. It was a game that French novelist Marcel Proust made famous as a parlor game. Proust believed that by answering these questions, we reveal our true selves.

Note

Unforgettable Tip:

Ask yourself questions.

I found a coffee-table book with blank Proust Questionnaires. I keep this book in my guest room and love to have our friends and family answer the questionnaire. These questions were really meant for fun, yet I found that answering them wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I really wanted whoever read my page to know about me. Part of me was trying to be honest, and part of me was trying to be cool. I realized that when my “cool” answer was also my honest answer, I was solid in that area. When my “cool” answer was not completely honest, that was an area I had to work on and explore.

“Find out who you are,
and do it on purpose.”
—Dolly Parton

Your Proust Questionnaire

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

2. What is your greatest fear?

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

5. Which living person do you most admire?

6. What is your greatest extravagance?

7. What is your current state of mind?

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

9. On what occasion do you lie?

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

11. Which living person do you most despise?

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

16. When and where were you happiest?

17. Which talent would you most like to have?

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

21. Where would you most like to live?

22. What is your most treasured possession?

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

24. What is your favorite occupation?

25. What is your most marked characteristic?

26. What do you most value in your friends?

27. Who are your favorite writers?

28. Who is your hero of fiction?

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

30. Who are your heroes in real life?

31. What are your favorite names?

32. What is it that you most dislike?

33. What is your greatest regret?

34. How would you like to die?

35. What is your motto?

“The real voyage of discovery
consists not in seeking new lands,
but in seeing with new eyes.”
—Marcel Proust

Note

One Unforgettable Woman

Cleopatra

“Be it known that we, the greatest, are misthought.”

From her makeup to her jewels to her serious powers of seduction (she hooked both Marc Antony and Julius Caesar), Cleopatra is one of our earliest examples of a kick-ass confident woman. Legend has it that she had the sails of her ship soaked in jasmine oils. When shewould set off to war or to meet with her lover, Marc Antony, her fragrance would blow across the shores, and the people would line the coast to witness her arrival. The chick knew how to make an entrance.

Note

Unforgettable Tip:

Never be ordinary.

TAKE NOTE:Unforgettable You is meant to be a springboard for you to discover who you are and who you want to be. Now that you have answered the Proust Questionnaire, take a bit more time to ask yourself who you are and what you really love and value.

TAKE NOTE:What Do You Love? Use this page to make a list of your very favorite things. This will help you to realize what you truly value. Many times we let ourselves be consumed by our jobs, our ex-boyfriends, the last ten pounds that won’t come off, the guy who won’t call, and so on. But once you see written down on paper the things that you truly value, you can remind yourself to focus on these items, make time for them, and cultivate them. Does that guy who won’t call make the list?

Raindrops on roses . . .
And whiskers on kittens . . .

Bright copper kettles . . .
And warm woolen mittens . . .

Since I am always interested in what other people love, I had a few of my friends make their own lists (have your friends do this too. It will surprise you and help you really get to know them better). Here are a few of my friends’ favorite things:

I have only recently started to carry a journal with me. I wish I’d had it earlier. I still have to remind myself to jot down my thoughts, but when I look back on what I have written, it really helps me put life in perspective. I keep my list of favorite things, things I am thankful for, and my “Who am I” paragraph at the front of my journal. I am constantly adding to these pages. Throughout my journal, I am also continually asking myself questions. Do not edit yourself in your journal. The whole point of a journal is to be open. Don’t play it safe, don’t try to be profound, and don’t worry about anybody finding it. And so, in the interest of practicing what I preach, I’ll share a few of my favorite pages from my journal with you:

Note

Unforgettable Tip:

Buy a journal. There is
no better self-discovery
tool.

Brown paper packages . . .
Tied up with string . . .

I remember at one party, a fabulous model came up to me. I had been sipping champagne and been turning the glass, so that I had given myself a rather unattractive line of red lipstick on the bridge of my nose. “Darling,” she old me very sweetly, “let me give you a tip. When you are drinking champagne, always drink out of the same spot so that you don’t get that line of lipstick on your nose.”

Wow, I thought, she’s a goddamn genius! And that’s when I realized that I could learn a lot by observing. And I guess I was observing when I didn’t even realize it.

Note

Unforgettable Tip:

Take a genuine
interest in others.

I have always been a people watcher. I can sit at a cafÉ and watch the people for hours—human actions and behaviors fascinate me. There is so much to learn about how you want to be and how you do not want to be by just sitting back and taking in the world.

I love to watch the way people talk to each other, the way they carry themselves, their body language, their tone. It is one of my favorite things to do on a lazy afternoon, and I am still somewhat surprised to discover that I too, am being watched. The first time I noticed a table of people staring at me and whispering, I was a little freaked out. Yet I also completely understood their intrigue. It made me more aware of how I act in public. I try to be confident and sure of myself but not self-conscious. I remind myself to keep my cool and be courteous when someone upsets me and makes me want to “go Jersey” on them.

But whether or not you are in the public eye, it is helpful to remember that there’s always somebody watching you. A few years ago, I was shopping, zoned out in my little world of retail therapy. I had been in the store for about an hour, and when I reached the checkout, the cashier said, “It is so great to have you in the store. I am such a fan of yours.” Then she leaned in and told me, “And all the security guys in the back, they are so excited. They have had the cameras zoomed in on you the whole time you were here.” I thought, Shit! Did I pick my nose? Did I pull my wedgie? I hope I didn’t embarrass myself. After that day, I have tried to remind myself that there may always be a group of security guys watching me. They may be watching you, too. Kenneth Cole once ran an ad campaign with billboards that read: “You are on video-camera an average of 10 times a day, are you dressed for it?” More important, are you acting for it? What would you say if you saw yourself on playback? What would your mother say? Would you be embarrassed or proud of what you saw?

TAKE NOTE:What I Know for Sure

What I know for sure . . . about who I am.

The late film critic Gene Siskel used to ask in his interviews, “What do you know for sure?” The first time he asked Oprah Winfrey, she didn’t know how to answer. Now, in the back of every O Magazine, Oprah writes a column entitled “What I Know for Sure.” I think it is a genius question on Gene’s part and a genius column on Oprah’s part. I decided to start making my own “What I know for sure” lists, and I have included them at the end of each chapter. After my list, I encourage you to create your own “What I know for sure” page.

Your Turn

Now it is your turn to write down what you know for sure about yourself. Use this list to help you become aware of who you really are (flaws and all). Only include items that you know about yourself for sure right now, not things you wish were true or hope will be true someday. Be honest, and put all your cards on the table. You have to let people know who they are playing with, so no bluffing. Write a date below your list, and come back to it in a year and revise.

© 2010 Daisy Fuentes

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