Bobbie Thomas continued . . .
Before her book, before "TODAY," Thomas was on a traditional path cultivating her academic career as a grad student. Then one day she tagged along with her then-boyfriend, an up-and-coming singer, to a photo shoot for a teen magazine. She thumbed through the publication and was disappointed to find a picture of Britney Spears with the words “fake or real?” plastered on her chest.
“I kept thinking, what an opportunity this magazine had to reach young women, to show them that confidence is sexy, not a boob job,” she said. When she mentioned that to the magazine’s editors at the photo shoot, they invited her to write a column for the publication.
And so she did. “I saw this as an opportunity to step out of academia and help young women develop healthier self-perceptions through popular media,” Thomas said.
“Dear Bobbie’s Buzz” paired her with celebrities such as Spears, Jessica Simpson, Pink and members of ’N Sync to offer advice to teen girls. “It was a way to connect the dots for 15-year-old girls reading the magazine,” Thomas said. “We talked about real issues with pop stars who these girls admired.”
The column saw several incarnations in print over a decade and led to a call from the "TODAY Show," where Thomas has been a contributor for the past seven years, reaching out to a larger, more diverse audience.
“Style starts inside”
With her book, she hopes to reach even more people with her philosophy. For Thomas, style goes far beyond fashion and beauty. “It’s a powerful way to tell others who we are and attract what we want. In fact, your 'style-speak' is a louder voice than anything you might scream from a rooftop.”
She added, “There is often so much focus on the outside that we forget to step back, and understand that style really starts inside.”
It’s the little things that are often overlooked, Thomas said, like when her female friends would go from work straight to a date in their power suits, which could be misread as serious or stuffy outside the office. “Switching into something more relaxed such as a cardigan or adding a soft, colorful scarf can look more inviting or approachable," she said. This is what Thomas means by “style-speak.”
Her book begins with the "inside," offering insight into the psychology of style, before moving on to the "outside" with a guide to finding your most flattering colors and how to balance your body type. It also features an illustrated shopping list of your best silhouettes, advice on how to edit your closet, style sessions to sort through what you wear and why, and tips to build a better wardrobe for your needs.
Thomas hopes the book will help women understand that style isn’t about how much they weigh, how much they spend on clothes or how they fit in. She wants women to own a truly powerful style that celebrates and supports each individual’s message.
The text is meant to feel like a conversation between friends, sisters or even mothers and daughters. In fact, Thomas describes herself as a “professional girlfriend,” cheerleader and style therapist.
Lasting impacts of the U-Idaho experience
For Thomas, the fundamental lessons she learned at the University of Idaho still hold true today as she continues to give back, working with organizations such as Step Up Women's Network, the Make- A-Wish Foundation and the United Nations Foundation. While Thomas is courted by many brands, she highlights only those that she believes in.
In today’s competitive job market, Thomas said she had to stand out and her U-Idaho psychology degree helped her do that.
“Ironically, leaving a big city for a small college town added to my world view. Stepping outside of my comfort zone gave me character and formed skills I still use today. I’m proud to share that U of I, and Moscow, were part of my journey.” Although Thomas hadn't intended to study psychology before meeting Professor Meier, she said, “You have to think outside the box. My education gave me the tools to do more than the obvious, but it was up to me to find out. And I did. Understanding human behavior has helped me both personally and professionally.”
Her advice to students? “Don’t stress about curriculum minutia, but rather pursue a passion. Learning about something you love will never fail you."
View past segments of "Bobbie's Buzz" on the "TODAY Show", check out her fun new finds, style tips, DIY projects and more on her website, bobbie.com. Connect with her at Facebook.com/BobbieThomas and @BobbieThomas on Twitter.