Many of you would be familiar with the Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen. I would be willing to bet that you enjoyed many of his stories as a child, and probably even read his stories aloud to your children at bedtime.
His beautifully written stories including The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen have stood the test of time and one of my personal favourites is The Ugly Duckling…you know the tale of the little bird who grows up being told by the other farmyard birds that he isn’t attractive enough, or good enough, only to grow into a beautiful swan, the most beautiful bird of all.
It’s a wonderful story of personal transformation for the better.
Interestingly, this theme is still explored in various aspects of popular culture, hundreds of years later.
We only have to look at movies like Clueless (Alicia Silverstone plays the part of Cher who takes on the role of personal stylist to help Brittany Murphy’s character Tai transform from a young woman with little confidence or belief in herself, to an outgoing woman with renewed assurance in herself) or Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, who with a little help from the hotel’s concierge, emerges as a woman of note, thanks to a personal shopping trip and wardrobe overhaul with styling advice from Richard Gere (and his credit card!).
Even before these modern day movies, the iconic Audrey Hepburn played the ‘rough diamond’ Eliza Doolittle in the classic film ‘My Fair Lady’ who with encouragement and positive reinforcement, transformed into a polished and confident woman with poise.
Or even the X-Men! Their characters initially shy away from the world, afraid of how they will be perceived by the world and afraid to let their uniqueness shine, until they finally take ownership of who they are and what they want to portray to the world, to embark on a journey of empowerment!
Recently, I had the pleasure of working with a woman who is very successful in the corporate world. This woman holds a key position in a prominent company, with many responsibilities that require great insight, thought and leadership.
She knows exactly how to dress to reflect her corporate persona with great confidence, yet her social life wardrobe was the absolute opposite, and she needed my help to overhaul her wardrobe before our shopping trip together.
While she is very comfortable dressing ‘corporate’ in shirts, blouses, skirt and trouser suits, she was wearing larger clothes in her social and personal life, hiding her amazing size 14 hourglass shape.
When wearing her ‘corporate hat’, she is empowered, strong, confident and unafraid to stand up in front of business clients and customers, and command their presence.
Yet when it came to her social life, she didn’t know how to dress for her body shape and how to allow her personality shine through! It affected her confidence in herself and she was only seeing herself as overweight, larger than she actually was and focused on her ‘bits’!
She couldn’t see the woman in the mirror that I saw – a truly amazing woman who I genuinely liked!
As many of you know, I have four sons in their 20’s. Prior to Christmas, I was having a good catch-up and chat with one of my son’s girlfriend. Over the course of our conversation, she said something that blew my mind! She said, “Oh, he always says he’s the black sheep of the family…”
Where did this thought process come from?
Whatever made him ever think this?
Was it schoolyard taunts? Sibling rivalry? Rejection from a first crush? Workplace competition?
I don’t know the reasons why he feels like the ‘black sheep’ but for him, it’s very real.
On giving it some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that our perception of ourselves is hard wired into us as a child and our ‘inner child’ still holds onto these perceptions, long into our adult life.
Our childhood experiences and teenage years have great impact on shaping who we are, as do others’ beliefs that are indoctrinated into us over time, and words that are spoken to us, whether those words are spoken carelessly or with deliberation. And this rings true for many men as well as women!
I find it amazing that we do this to ourselves…why?
What are we hiding from?
Why do some of us only allow ourselves to shine sometimes? Why not all the time?
I’d like you to take thirty seconds to pause and think…how do you perceive yourself?
Do you hide? Do you overcompensate your ‘bits’ by wearing baggy clothes?
Where does this stem from?
Sometimes, like my client, we need a little help to understand how we can style our clothes to help us shine and the impact that great styling can have on how you allow the world to perceive you – the AMAZING you!
After I had visited my client to overhaul her wardrobe and ‘cleanse’ it from the many unflattering clothing items she had accumulated and held onto over the years, she emailed me to say, “This was enlightening! And eye-opening! Can’t wait for my shopping trip now”. She had started to realise that her true personal style and inner confidence was about to be unleashed!
Imagine my delight when I received another email from her the day after her personal shopping experience with me to share these wonderful words, “Once again, it was an amazing experience and I have learnt so much that will take some time to fully integrate into my life. You could be fooled into thinking that this experience was about clothing and that would be SO wrong! It’s about our self-image and who we present to the world. Thank you again. Look forward to working with you again”.
How about changing the messages in your head to positives – I am Me! I am AMAZING – and enjoy your own personal journey of transformation and let your true colours shine!