Grae Drake, One Woman’s Story on Carson Kressley’s, How To Look Good Naked
Grae Drake, One Woman’s Story on Carson Kressley’s, How To Look Good Naked
by Guest Contributor JR
As Grae Drake laid in bed one night, her thoughts turned to what she had been eating over the past few days. The usual self-deprecation entered her head. “You should eat healthier! If you really set your mind to it, you could easily lose weight!” Suddenly, another voice entered her head. It asked the most important questions she had ever asked herself. It said, “What if you’re wasting your life worrying about this? What if you’re perfect how you are? What if you could take all this energy you use to beat yourself up and do something important instead?” The next morning she woke up, and during her usual morning tea and web-surfing, she saw an ad for a reality show. At the top, in big bold letters it said, “Women! Is worrying about your weight keeping you from doing something amazing with your life?” Grae stated that she felt like “she had no choice but to write in, since the timing was a little too perfect.” And thus began her journey on the Lifetime TV show “How To Look Good Naked” with celebrity host, Carson Kressley.
The TV show, now in its second season covers and hour-long episode each week of different people facing their body issues and distorted self-images. Through this reality series, Carson Kressley’s goal is to help women see how beautiful they are right now, and celebrate their shape with flattering clothes, hairstyles, and makeup. Then, once they see the beauty in themselves that everyone else sees, they dare to bare it all in a naked photo shoot. Sounds a little risqué and crazy, but is extremely effective.
As Grae was propelled through the casting process, it seemed like just in a blink of an eye, she was sitting there, chatting with Carson about how she loathed her wide hips and flabby arms. As a film editor in Los Angeles, Grae was allowing what she describes as her “blah feelings become the norm.” When asked what she would do if she wasn’t busy worrying about her body, she replied “I’ve always loved musicals and dancing but have never tried it because I always found an excuse not to.”
When asked what one particular moment stood out for her when being filmed for the show, surprisingly it wasn’t the one you might think-the “naked” shot. “Oh, the three way mirror part? No,” she says, making a face. She is referring to the segment in the show where women stand in front of a three-way mirror in their bra and underwear and talk about their least favorite parts of themselves. “The part that stood out was when they asked me to compliment life-size pictures of three headless bodies. I easily found nice things about all of them, especially the last one, which I thought had nice legs and a nice stomach. And it turned out that the last one was ME with a different skin color and tattoos. They totally fooled me into being nice to myself for once!” She says it helped her realize how judgmental we can all be to ourselves.
Kressley worked around the clock to get Grae’s wardrobe into shape, giving her items like structured basics to accentuate her “lovely décolletage” and long legs. He showed her what kind of pants and skirts would help take focus off her hips and draw it upwards. “Prints on top, solids on bottom, and stay away from white bottoms at all costs,” he told her. When they were done with their retail therapy, Grae had a great idea of how to bring her love of fun and fashion to a more sophisticated, appropriate wardrobe.
When they introduced her to Enrique Lugo and Monica Klus, professional dance partners to help her realize her dream of dancing, she said “It’s all kind of out of the blue, I just remember Carson bringing me into a room, me shaking hands with people, and then learning the tango. I was terrified.” And there were more hurdles to jump! Grae and her tired dancing feet knew that something big was happening one particular morning when during filming, the production staff didn’t tell her where they were going or what they were doing, and she ended up with Stylist to the stars Tyler Colton, who had joined up with Carson to make over Grae’s hair and face. What they failed to tell her was one small detail-it was the day of her naked photo shoot! Tyler went to work to make her the star of her own show. They wouldn’t allow Grae to look in the mirror until Tyler had made her the “star of her own show.” When they revealed their handiwork, Grae said she was stunned speechless. “There aren’t many things I can’t think of a response to, but seeing myself in that amazing new hairdo with that gorgeous makeup knocked the words right out of my head. I LOVED it!”
Carson led her out to the roof of the Roosevelt Hotel in the heart of Hollywood, California, and she shimmied into a red kimono, and began her photo shoot with Christian Horan behind the lens. “He was so supportive and helpful! When I first got up there I was a mess. But with his instruction and encouragement, I knew that he was there to help me look phenomenal, so I loosened up. Carson and Tyler were there too, helping me position myself properly and keep my lip gloss shiny. I couldn’t have done it without all of their help!” She also stated that after the initial shock of being naked on top of a Hollywood landmark, she realized that she was doing it and that she actually looked great! Lip biting turned into big smiles.
Her adventure was not over. On the last day of filming, Grae was whisked away to a ballroom where 100 of her closest friends and family were eagerly awaiting her tango debut! Deborah Lindquist had taken some of her old clothes that Carson forbade her to ever wear again and presented her with a gorgeous tango dress. “I felt like Cinderella!” she remembered. She danced with Enrique and pulled it off, flips and all! The crowd was ecstatic. “It has been a long time since I have been onstage hearing people clap for me,” she said, “and it was totally amazing. I had about six hours to learn that dance and I did it! I was so, so proud of myself.”
Just when she thought it couldn’t get any more surreal, Carson revealed her naked photo and again, she was floored. “When I first saw the photo I thought, what a lovely picture of someone! And I realized it was me!” Carson asked her what she thought and she couldn’t respond. Finally on the third try he said, “Grae, use your words honey, do you look good naked?” and she managed to sputter out, “Holy moses, yes!” The audience was going nuts, clapping and cheering.
So one might wonder what the aftermath of such an emotional experience is? Grae says that it hasn’t been easy, but it has been very rewarding. “Doing the show is something I never would have done before. But I am ready for a real change in my life, where I start healing old wounds and moving forward. So that means I have to get my hands dirty and dig up all that stuff I have buried for so long.” I asked her if she has still heard the same evil voices that plagued her before the show and she said, “I definitely hear them once in a while, but now I have more tools to counteract them. Every time I tell myself I look fat in something, I follow it up with, ‘okay, so wear something that shows how hot you are!'” Grae says that the show helped her realize something important, “I have always made such a huge effort to be nice to other people and give them respect, understanding, compassion and love. Now I take the time to apply that same rule in how I talk to and treat myself!”