"The big goal for me is to feel vibrant without being a caricature of the Golden Girls," says the What Not to Wear co-host

By Colleen Kratofil
May 21, 2020 12:06 AM

After dealing with chronic health issues, grieving the death of her father and turning 50 this past year, Stacy London has a fresh perspective on life, and she's using it to start a "middle age revolution."

"At 40 I was at the top of my game," the What Not to Wear co-host tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "It’s the best age there is. But 50 is not 40. It’s a different hallmark."

What London wants is for society to acknowledge the big life changes women in their 50s experience — physically, professionally and by losing a loved one or becoming an empty nester.

"We should be celebrating menopause instead of bitching about it!" adds the stylist, who turns 51 later this month. "There's an incredible sense of loss at this stage of life. And I think that we gloss over it. We don't talk about it."

For more on Stacy London, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.

stacy london
Stacy London
| Credit: Tory Rust

She's dealt with her share of grief, losing her father, Herbert London, an academic and founder and president of the London Center for Public Policy, to heart disease and amyloidosis (an abnormal protein buildup in the tissues and organs) in November 2018, and she's opening up about the experience.

"Grief was a trip wire for me in having to cope with more depression than I had before," she says about his death. She's also experienced bouts of "debilitating depression" in 2017 after having an "agonizing" spinal surgery in 2016.

While she says that life’s ups and downs "never gets easier," she says her ability to handle them does. "It’s about using difficult times to make things better going forward."

"Grief changed my priorities. I’m much closer to my family and friends now," London adds. "There were 15 years where I was working so hard that I took my family for granted. I’m making up for lost time. The big goal for me is to feel vibrant without being a caricature of the Golden Girls."

Another issue London is shining a light on these days is mental health. The stylist teamed with JED Foundation, which aims to prevent suicide in teens and young adults, and the Crisis Text Line for her new podcast, Could Be Better, tbh. “We’ve spent too long being quiet about mental health,” she says. "The more you shine a light on things the less scary they are."

People has also partnered with the Crisis Text Line, which offers free 24/7 support from trained crisis counselors. If you or someone you know needs help, text STRENGTH to 741741.