If Melissa McCarthy seems like she'd be super fun to hang out with, that's because she is. But the reason the superstar can be so cool is not only because she's comfortable in her own skin, it's because she's comfortable in what she's wearing—namely items from her new clothing line Melissa McCarthy Seven 7. As mom of two daughters, Vivian, 8, and Georgette, 5, the actress and fashion designer feels her best when she looks her best. The comedienne told Parents about her fashion philosophy, how she's raising confident girls, and the moments they make her laugh.
P: Before comedy, you were actually studying fashion. Do you feel like you're returning to your roots with this line?
MM: I was in college for two years at Southern Illinois University in clothing and textiles. I always had clients I made clothing for. Then I moved at 20 to New York City to finish college at FIT and I moved in with my best friend from high school— Brian Atwood who is a shoe designer now. The second night I was in town he said "You should do stand up." I was like "Alright. What's the big deal? That can't be hard." I called my parents the next morning and said I'm not going back to school. Strangely they said ok which is really terrible advice. But I really always enjoyed dressing. I enjoyed kind of making almost a costume out of it.
P: So what's your inspiration behind this line?
MM: I want women to feel good about themselves all day and have a little bit of fun with it. It can be kind of a tricky wicket, at a certain point, to maintain a sense of style and have fun with clothing and I think that's crazy. I wanted to do it and then we found the right manufacturer that would be willing to do all sizes which was important to me. I find it crazy that we pretend women stop at a size 10. I don't understand that. Fifty-seven percent of women are a size 14 and a 14 is not available in 80 percent of stores. I find that very bizarre.
P: How does being a mom affect your fashion sense?
MM: Being a mom affects every fiber of your being and every decision you make. I want to look put-together, but I realize I have to be comfortable. I have two kids and I don't want to be irritable because I'm in an uncomfortable pant. That just seems like a crazy choice. There's also a 62 percent chance that someone's going to douse me in something. If something accidentally spills I don't want to be "Oh my G-d what have you done?!" That's not the person I am, that's not the person I want to be.
P: What about how your kids see you?
MM: I want my girls to see me dressing for my mood. I think there's something fun to watch your mom feel good about herself. I want to show them a positive self-esteem. I don't do the "Oh I look terrible." I don't want any of that to bleed into their minds. I try to have fun with what I wear and I try to say "thank you" when people compliment me, so they hear that. We are in the bad habit of "Ohhh no but—" I try to say, "Thank you, I love it, too." Why is that such a bad thing to say?
P: Aside from setting this example, how do you cultivate a positive self-image for each of your daughters?
MM: When they show their creativity—how they want to dress, how they want to wear their hair—knock yourselves out! Not inappropriate. You can't wear a bikini to school, but I don't want them to be defined by their physical appearance. Vivi has made three other prints for me. My little one is really into changing her clothes. She wants to wear the princess dress with a T-shirt over it to the store with me and I'm like, "YES! Go get your cowboy boots. Let's take it up a couple notches." Your actions are what make you who you are and I don't want it to be about how they dress.
P: You mentioned that Vivi has drawn graphics for your line. How has it been working together on this?
MM: It's great. The first time I got [the sweater with her graphic] and wore it out I was walking down the street and a girl randomly looked up and said "I love that sweater." And I was like "MY DAUGHTER DREW IT!" I got so overly proud. As she comes up with something I say, "Do you mind if I use this?" I would never be like "Sit down! I need some graphics." I don't put any pressure on it. The little one has no interest in it yet, who knows, she might. It kind of fills me with joy and [Vivi] gets a real kick out of it.
P: What do you hope she learns from her involvement?
MM: I hope it means her creative process is valued. If she goes into accounting, whatever original thought you have it might be a good one. It might not be. Everything she draws doesn't necessarily go right into the line. That's something to learn: Some things are right for it, some things aren't, but that's the way the world goes. They'll still all go on the fridge, so who cares?
P: We know that you're the comedian in the family, but when is the last time your girls made you laugh until you cried?
MM: Daily. Yesterday. Vivi was doing a very funny bit. When I talked to Ben she kept going behind him eating cereal which doesn't sound that funny except she was really doing a lot of eyebrow work. She kept popping up in the picture. . It was so silly.
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Ruthie Fierberg is an editorial assistant at Parents. Though she does not have children of her own, she's practically been raising kids since her first babysitting job at age 11. She is also our resident theater aficionado and has interviewed over 40 celeb parents. Follow her on Twitter @RuthiesATrain.
Photograph: Melissa and her ladies wearing Melissa McCarthy Seven 7. Available beginning September 1st at Macy's, HSN, Lord & Taylor, Lane Bryant, MelissaMcCarthy.com and more. Shop all sizes (4-28 in bottoms and S-4XL in tops).