How This App is Building Body Confidence Through Fashion Intel


How many times have you been shopping, and let your mood or feelings get in the way of what, retrospectively, would have been a good buy?

Women are their own worst enemies when it comes to deciding what to wear - whether it's formal wear or gym gear, and this is mostly an issue of letting body confidence in between you and a good outfit.

With intimate knowledge of these decisions, and a lifetime's worth of research, Purva Gupta came up with an idea for an app that would help women utilize their emotions when buying. It would build an algorithm based on body positivity rather than body issues in order to promote body confidence and a happier shopping experience.

Gupta finalized her decision to build the app after interviewing tonnes of women (in over 10,000 hours worth of interview) on the street about their bodies and what makes the decision for them when buying clothes - and it was mostly, their faults, rather than their assets.

And therein, Lily was born.

Gupta's innovation coupled with her knowledge of women's insecurities have proved a winning combination, and since its launch, Lily has made waves in the tech and fashion worlds. Techies are heralding it as an app that "drives behavior never seen in the offline world" because Lily never stops working. It logs all searches and items clicked on to collate a broad view of what the user wants or likes, and forms opinions based on these results. It's like the best friend that comes shopping with you every time, but remembers exactly the shapes, colors, lengths and all other specifications you like.

Lily won Startup Conference's Best Startup award in Silicon Vally back in May and may well be 2017's most interesting invention for women, simply for its mission to promote self-esteem and body confidence above all else. It's currently working with a few curated retailers, ASOS among them, and hopes to keep expanding and adding different sources for all the lovely ladies of the Lily world. SWAAY spoke with Gupta about how her app can affect change for women's body confidence in a positive and empowering way.

Purva Gupta at Startup Conference

How does the app work?

To begin with, the app asks users a few quick questions about body type, style preferences and how they perceive their body- one example of a question Lily asks: “How would you describe your décolleté (that's French for chest — I'm very worldly!)?" Then it recommends clothes, as per what the user is looking for, from their favorite stores that will flatter their body & perceptions. With every like/dislike of the user, Lily learns and makes the next set of recommendations better. The level of detail that Lily understands, is almost impossible for a human stylist to understand from hundreds and thousands of products people browse on Lily. Lily is able to do so because our technology enables us to understand attributes in depth about every single item of clothing available on Lily.

Yet, Lily prides herself in making the woman understand how every single item of clothing recommended to her by Lily flatters her individual body type and minute details she shared with Lily, just like how a great human stylist would do. Yes, every single item, in real-time.

How is your app enabling women to feel better about themselves, more empowered?

Girls start recognizing themselves in the mirror at the age of two and from that time on, they start disliking parts of their body. In their teen years, they start developing perceptions about their body and making judgments about it (thighs, tummy etc.) -- usually negative -- relative to the physical appearance of their moms, friends and celebrities. As young adults, these translate into serious insecurities like, “I'm fat," “I'm not good enough," or “I'm less than others." To the effect that women in the US have 13 negative thoughts about their body every single day! Think about that. That's nearly 1 negative thought for every waking hour. Recent study by Dove & UN shows that 8 out of 10 girls with low-self esteem choose not to do something because they feel they don't look good enough.

It doesn't matter how these girls actually look -- because it's all about how they THINK they look! Their perception becomes their reality because their mind has been cultivating and reinforcing these negative self-images since a very young age.

At Lily, the definition of emotion we use is the perception gap between reality & expectation. When the gap is positive, there is confidence and when the gap is negative, there is insecurity. In the first few minutes of a user's interaction with Lily, we try to understand where the perception gaps lie for every part of the user's body. Lily asks how the user feels about her body — what parts she likes to accentuate and which ones she'd prefer to minimize — and then uses a complex matching algorithm to make recommendations.

"The power of this idea lies in the mix of science and organically ingraining positivity in their mindset every day."

-Purva Gupta

How is Lily empowering women with trends this summer?

Lily understands everybody type, every minute detail she learns from the user and uses it to find clothes that will truly flatter the user's unique body and perceptions about her.

Ruffles, a (romantic summer) trend that adds volume and shape by highlighting specific parts of the body to create balanced proportions.

Oversized sleeves and romantic statement sleeves are very on trend for summer allowing women to de-emphasize their arms without wearing too much fabric.

Off-the-shoulder tops are one of the hottest trends too for someone de-emphasizing their arms and shoulders.

The relaxed fit is also very on trend which helps in camouflaging any extra pounds. Crochet/embroidered fabrics are on trend for summer with thicker fabric which is not as revealing.

And if you're still (inexplicably) unsure about downloading the app, head on over to their Twitter for some expert advice about body shapes, and what to wear for you this fine summer.


6min read

What Sexual Abuse Survivors Want You to Know

In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.

For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.

Believe it or not, I am happy about that.

The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.

It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).

These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.

So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.

Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.

The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."

In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.