If I had to answer the question “what is the most important lesson you teach women every day?” the answer is clear: YOU ARE MORE THAN JUST YOUR BITS!
This is also the title of my book, written to help women overcome the overwhelming insecurities they face every day when they look in the mirror.
Every day I work with clients who when studying their reflection in the mirror say things like: “Look at my thunder thighs”, “I hate my knees”, “my boobs were too small, and now they are too big”. Honestly, our list of complaints about our ‘bits’ is never ending.
We only see what we don’t like about ourselves, and we are all guilty of putting ourselves under vicious scrutiny.
Could you imagine saying that to someone else? Of course not! Why? Well because it is awful! We are our own worst critics.
When I first started styling, it was incredible to me that my clients thought I was some magical wizard, waving a wand making all the ‘bits’ go away. Their ‘enchanted’ reflection which I created by simply putting them in the right cuts, styles and sizing have resulted in happy tears, hugs and kisses.
Don’t get me wrong… these are the most rewarding moments I could ever ask for, however, at the time, I found myself struck by the outpouring of emotion.
Of course, now I realise, from dealing with thousands of women, that they are all simply overwhelmed by the realisation they were more than just their ‘bits’.
These ‘bits’ that no one else has even noticed, have been a cause of self-doubt, negativity and insecurity for many years and in some cases their whole adult life. My beautiful clients see themselves unobstructed for the first time, without their ‘bits’ they feel fantastic.
I am reminded of the Dove Real Beauty Campaign, which in a short film, beautifully captures the experience I have with women every day.
The Dove Real Beauty Sketches reveals the startling difference in how we are perceived by others and how we perceive ourselves.
With over 15 million downloads this video has clearly struck a chord with women, encouraging them to explore their own self-esteem and self-worth.
The film shows a subject describing themselves to a forensic sketch artist who is unable to see them. Then another woman who has met the subject for the first time just before this session will describe the same subject’s appearance based on their brief encounter.
The difference between the two drawings is astonishing.
When the women have their likeness unveiled to them, they are astonished by the variance. Their own description of themselves is harder, less flattering and even described as ‘sadder’. Their ‘flaws’ are exaggerated, and their insecurity has made its way onto the face of the drawing.
The likeness as described by the stranger is more realistic, flattering and positive than their own.
The women are of course moved and delighted! They are seeing themselves for the first time from a different perspective, free from their own negative judgement and low self-esteem, they are beautiful!
The message at the campaign’s heart is ‘You are more beautiful than you think you are’. It is startling, and begs the question: Why can’t we see our own beauty?
One of the words most frequently used by my clients is ‘hate’.
“I hate how I look in everything”, “I hate how frumpy I am”, “I hate what I have turned into”, “I hate the way I look in photos”.
So much hate, such a strong word and the destructive damage they are doing to themselves and others is profound.
How can you allow any positivity into your life when it is blockaded by so much negativity, so much ‘hate’?
One of the most important aspects of my work, is encouraging and coaching my clients to see just how beautiful they are. Not only do I work on my client’s external appearance, but I work to dissolve their negative self-talk and see themselves as the unique and beautiful person they are.
While personal styling is the business of improving a person’s appearance from the outside in, it is most importantly also promoting a change of perception from the inside out. My client feels great about themselves and projects that positivity to everyone and the world returns it.
Where does all this negativity come from? Why do we expect so much of ourselves to be ‘perfect’?
It probably, in the most part, has stemmed from societal ideals of perfection, but also for many men and women, from the influential people in our lives. Our mothers, fathers, friends, aunties and uncles are all role models to some extent.
Everything they say is ultimately shaping your beliefs, sense of worth and self-esteem.
Take a moment to think back on those special people in your life, they did not mean any harm, but think about demeaning comments, things you may have witnessed or overheard that helped you shape your beliefs.
Maybe your Mum was always examining her body in a concerned way in the mirror or making comments about her ‘big behind’.
Perhaps you witnessed your older sister crying over boys who thought she was ‘fat’ or telling her girlfriends she wished she had bigger breasts and longer legs.
Did you witness your Mum asking your Dad, ‘do I look fat in this?’ and depending on his answer, take this on board. I had one client for example whose father had said to her when she was a teenager “you have your mother’s big butt”. She still carries that insecurity to this day.
We are not doing this exercise to lay blame, but to highlight the importance of breaking the cycle.
You may be someone’s mother, sister, aunty or friend and you can change your pattern of behaviour to lift those important women in your life rather than inadvertently shape their self-development in a negative way.
You need to take responsibility for the things that you say about yourself, not only to be kinder to yourself but to break the cycle of self-criticism being acceptable.
We can break the cycle of self-criticism, and quiet those self-deprecating thoughts, which is why the Dove Real Beauty Campaign is an important lesson in inspiring us all to change our perception.
We need to spend less time concentrating on all the things about ourselves that we don’t like and more time focusing on the things we can change; our damaging perceptions of ourselves, our attitudes and above all else, understanding that our natural beauty, in fact, exudes from the inside out.
Everyone has a beautiful personality; everyone has a ‘special something’, a shining light inside them that can brighten their own life and the lives of others if it can be brought to the surface, and allowed to beam brightly.
Remember, you are more beautiful than you think you are!
YOU ARE MORE THAN JUST YOUR BITS! 🙂