How Do You See Yourself? A Lesson In Self-Image

How Do You See Yourself? A Lesson In Self-Image

Mirror mirror on the wall….

When Style Counsel launched (way back in 2004) I had a reason for choosing that name. I was never really interested in helping women follow fashion. I was always more keen on teaching them the two other things which I’ve always felt were  far more important:

1. Style.

2. Confidence.

Why? Because dressing in fashion is easy, but to be/feel/be considered by others as stylish is a whole other thing entirely.

And just because you’re dressed “in fashion” doesn’t mean you will always look, or indeed feel, great.

When people say “You have such great style” they are generally talking about something very different to being dressed in the height of fashion. It’s something more intangible. A certain “it-factor”. A feeling they get when they see/think about you. It’s something that generally always comes from the inside and works its way to your outer covering.

In order to work the way I wanted to work as a Personal Stylist,  one of the first things I did was develop my Client Profiling. So that I could really get to know my clients from the inside and out before I ever even started working with their wardrobe or hair or makeup to create or enhance their own signature style.

Love Your Body As It Is Right Now

From the get-go, Style Counsel has always been about helping people learn to love the body they’ve been given and how to dress it well, so that the image THEY SEE staring back at them from a mirror or photograph is in sync with who they are on the inside. My goal was (and still is) to give them renewed confidence and acceptance of their body JUST AS IT IS RIGHT NOW. For them to stop wishing and wanting it to be different and to accept it and see themselves as I see them as their stylist – as one who isn’t hung up on the size of their bum, or their knobbly knees or their big hips or small boobs.  To see their good bits and accentuate them. Not the bad bits which is all most of us only see in ourselves.

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With this goal in mind, over the years my client profiling has formed Style Counsel’s signature. My own personal research into what women love/hate about their bodies. Key questions such as: “Name three favourite physical features”, and “List your three least favourite features”  have indeed provided a great insight into how women view their bodies. So much so, I’ve even formed my own theory of women’s body image based on this (that’s for another post altogether).

But do you want to know the question I get the most value out of as Stylist? As one who is about to meet a new client for the first time?  It’s this one:

“Describe to me in as much detail as possible, your physical appearance. Pretend I am picking you up from the airport. We’ve never met. I only have your personal description of yourself in order to find you.”

WOW is all I can say to the answers I’ve invariably received over the years. And it saddens me. If you could read what I read, and then meet the women (and men) I meet, you’d see why it blows me away so much. I can honestly say there is probably only 10% (if that) of all of my client base who’ve answered this question as accurately as I’d really need  it to be, in order to be able to find them at the airport – sight unseen – and pick up or approach the right person!

Struggling to See the Positive Parts of Ourselves

Most women either struggle to describe themselves at all, seemingly feeling very uncomfortable even writing about themselves or their appearance in the first place. And certainly, when it comes to “Name three favourite features” that is even more than clear. Some leave it blank; some try one, maybe two. Or list safe or obvious things that they probably hope to be less likely to be considered vain. Things such as “nice nails” or a “nice eyes” or “friendly personality” (conveniently ignoring that I’ve only asked for “physical features”!). But when it comes to answering “Name your LEAST favourite physical features” most will happily list way more than three! And just try stopping them adding to that when you meet them in person! 🙁

Well, the other day, I stumbled across this Dove Real Beauty Ad. I’ve used Dove’s clips many times when I’ve spoken to high-school students over the years – speaking about the smoke and mirrors of the beauty/advertising industry. I’ve worked in it most of my life and I really do want girls to understand the beauty myth. I want them to stop being so hard on themselves and to stop seeing only their (perceived) imperfections. And THIS clip is the best I’ve seen – because it’s the most accurate description of what I’m living – what I’m witnessing – with so many of my clients every day!

Please watch. Please take it on board. It’s powerful. It’s real. It’s true. It’s me. It’s you…I’ll bet my bottom dollar on it.

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12 Responses to How Do You See Yourself? A Lesson In Self-Image

    • Thanks Annie – it’s an amazing video portrayal of what I’ve been seeing with my clients for so many years. Heartbreaking to think that we are all so hard on ourselves when what others see is nothing like it! I have clients lamenting this, and the size of that, and I swear I stand there dumbfounded a lot of the time, thinking to myself (and sharing with them) how what they’re seeing is not even something I’d even noticed! That’s why I love being that “voice in their head” (or sitting on their shoulder as they shop) after having met me. I want them to see themselves as I see them, not as they’ve been telling themselves they look for way too long xx

  1. This video is AWESOME. I am going to show it to my 11 yr old daughter… Maybe this sort of Lifestyle training should be taught or at the very least touched on at schools.

    Thanks so very much for reminding me also.

    • Thanks Josie – it’s pretty amazing isn’t it? So glad you liked it, and I do hope your daughter does too.

      I actually do speak in schools about this, and have done for some time now. Thing is, not enough schools see Self-Image as an integral part of education. I’d travel around speaking in ALL schools given half the chance. I’m passionate about it, and I believe we need to get it into kid’s heads from a young age before mainstream media, social media, magazines, photoshop and peer pressure – pop culture – does it’s damage.

      I also do Corporate speaking on many similar topics, but the key underlying issue is always self-confidence. I truly believe Self-esteem and Body Images should be taught in all schools from Year 8 onwards. Even earlier. (P.S. Happy to come to your daughter’s school – maybe you should share this post with the Education Co-ordinator? Baby steps, but it’s got to start somewhere!) Al 🙂

  2. Thank you, Al. I need a tissue, no really!! As you said, powerful. I’m keeping this for my daughter – it’s a must see for all girls/women. Loving all your blogs, take care ooxx

    • Thanks Vicki. And I hear you re those tissues! Please do show it to your daughter. Spread it around and show it to your girlfriends too. Everyone benefits and feels better when they learn to love what they’ve been given and how to dress it well.

      Glad you’re liking the blogs. Been working very hard at keeping them coming through regularly!
      Big Al 🙂

    • Thanks Nicole – that comment makes me one very happy woman! Regardless of what I see when I look in the mirror myself, to know that I’ve at least inspired someone makes me not care one bit about that damn mirror or how poorly my jeans fit! xx

  3. Beautiful have tears in my eyes and have to share this with everyone of my friends. plus I need to take what my husbands says for real. He tells my all the time how lovely, pretty I look.

    • Please do share this with all of your friends. And you really should listen to your hubby more. He’s spot-on when he say you look lovely/pretty. Believe me/him! xx

  4. THank you Beautiful Al – that was very humbling – much gratitude for the video – Txxx – as always you ROCKi

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