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Vicki Iovine: 'The World Needs a League of Girlfriends!'

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After 27 years of marriage, successful writer, model and lawyer Vicki Iovine is stepping into the next chapter of her life as a recently divorced mother of four. And she has discovered that being kind to others is just as important as being kind to oneself. We sat down with the author of the "Girlfriends' Guide" series to talk about her new love: charity work with theMy Expressions of Kindness campaign.

Vicki Lovine
momlogic: What has 27 years of marriage taught you for the next 27?

Vicki Iovine: Speaking just for myself, it's taught me that I don't need a 28th! Much as the father of my four kids and I adore each other, once the kids started leaving the nest, I had a big yearning to step out of the caretaker role that I'd embraced for three decades. The kids are now 16, 18, 20 and 22, and their father and I divorced a year ago. I'm happy and dating and feeling 135 pounds lighter! My dream? To find someone who "has my back" -- just not like Jesse James!

ml: You talk about sharing kindness with others, and being kind to ourselves. Why is that an important goal for women at all stages in their lives?

VI: Now that I'm in my fifties, the obvious reason for being kind to myself is right in front of my nose: If I don't value and care for myself, it can result in missed mammograms, Pap tests, dental upkeep ... and before you know it, I've given in to slothful disregard for my health and self-respect. I commit to exercise, I eat right and I SHAVE MY UNDERARMS AND LEGS EVERY SINGLE DAY -- just to stay as fastidious as I deserve to be. (Plus, you never know when an "intimacy opportunity" will present itself.) One last thing: I now drink expensive wine, even if it's just a Crockpot dinner with a couple of friends! "Two-Buck Chuck" (or, adjusted for inflation, "Five-Buck Chuck") makes me feel disrespected.

As for being kind with others, that's a reflection of some of the humility I've picked up on my journey. Birthing children reminded me of how humble and dependent I am on other people, particularly other women who have continued to be my backbone and inspiration for the [last] 25 years. Girlfriends have a POWER that transcends professional alliances, politics and socioeconomic conditions. I sense that the transcendence of women will depend on each and every one of us ladies taking the hands of the women on either side. We may not know them yet, but we love them and see in them a mirror of our own selves. We can't make a statement alone, but we can make it as a League of Girlfriends.

Not offering a hand to a girlfriend is the same as saying, "I can't expect a hand when I need it." I can't live like that, so I'm busy paying forward and reaching out whenever I need to. Like the Temptations, I insist that I "ain't too proud to beg." And when I ask a true girlfriend, I never feel like a beggar.

ml: Tell us about the My Expressions of Kindness campaign and how you became their ambassador.

VI: I've never been coy about the fact that I've received treatment since 2002 with BOTOX Cosmetic (from a licensed and trained physician), to treat my "ugly 11" lines between my eyebrows -- and have been very happy with the results. You know I can't help but share with my girlfriends when I find a great thing. As a longtime fan of the product, I was thrilled when Allergan, Inc. -- the maker of BOTOX Cosmetic -- asked me to be an ambassador for the My Expressions of Kindness campaign.

As part of the campaign, Allergan is donating up to a quarter of a million dollars to benefit three deserving charities: Children's Action Network, Make It Right and the organization I'm supporting (with ultimate girlfriend Vanessa Williams), Dress for Success.[Each time] people log on to the campaign website at and complete a short profile telling how they express kindness, Allergan will donate $25 on their behalf to the charity of their choice. Giving back has never been easier.

ml: We hear that your charity, Dress for Success, is very close to your heart. Tell us about that.

VI: If a woman cannot actually visualize herself in the job or future she seeks, her dream is vague and doubtful. Each of us has to be able to picture ourselves in a satisfying job and trust that our vision is more powerful than any naysayers, indifferent HR folks or our own secret fears that we're inadequate.

Often, we can face the possibility that we may be bigger and greater than we know when we've seen ourselves looking like that woman! I've been there. I graduated from law school and didn't own a single suit for a job interview, and had about $50,000 in student debts. My girlfriends who were taking the bar exam with me created a sort of "lending library" of separates, suits and accessories that we could communally dip into as the interviews arose. The rest of us girlfriends loved to help pull the outfits together and give hair and makeup advice. A success for one of us was a success for all of us.

Dress for Success is essentially the same concept taken nationwide. After [interviewing candidates] to determine how serious and dedicated [they are], the Dress for Success organization will select candidates who will be given a complete interview suit or appropriate outfit to keep. If a candidate gets another interview -- or the job -- Dress for Success is committed to finding separates that match the original outfit, so Cinderella gets to keep looking like Cinderella until she can earn her own clothing budget, hence becoming a real-life princess!

It's kismet that Vanessa Williams, the titanic agency head "Wilhelmina" [on "Ugly Betty"] and I, the girlfriend's girlfriend, would team up for Dress for Success. We both believe in the transformative powers of the gift of seeing ourselves as we could be, rather than being frustrated by what we think we are now.

ml: Will there be any other installments of the "Girlfriends' Guides" series to chronicle this new chapter of your life -- and help women who might be going through the same?

VI: Are you kidding?! Of course I will continue spreading the message. First of all, I invite all of you to join me on my Facebook page, "Vicki Iovine." I also have a page for, where you can find updates about the progress we're making for Dress for Success. Spring 2011 will also mark the release of my next book, "The Girlfriends' Guide to Teenagers."

next: Facebook: The Best Way to Catch a Cheater
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