It wasn’t the first all-women conference I attended in my life, but it was the most diverse. More than 300 female entrepreneurs had come together from all over the world to connect with one another and experience a line-up of incredible female speakers.
I remember the very first moment I walked in right after collecting my badge. I stood still in the middle of the conference room and looked around me in awe. I had never seen such a wide range of women of different ages, styles, and backgrounds condensed in one spot. And yet, despite a deep desire to improve their lives, every single one of them had one thing in common: she had taken extra special care to get ready for this event and she looked stunning in her own unique way.
This was certainly true for the lady standing beside me right before the first session began. I loved her curves of softness. And everything about her, from her perfectly styled hair, to her flawless makeup, and her vintage accessories, was nothing short than amazing. She looked stunning.
I wanted to go and talk to her. I wanted to tell her how incredible I thought she looked. But for whatever reason, in that moment, all I could do was stand there in awe.
As the day went on, I met many interesting people and every once in a while, as I was speaking with one of them, I caught a glimpse of that gorgeous woman passing by. She was standing in line during lunch break, while I was on a call with my husband. She was exiting the gift-shops while I was handing my card to the cashier.
And then again, she was washing her hands as I walked into the ladies room. I felt her presence, but for whatever reason, it never felt like the right time to connect.
By the time the last presenter completed her talk, all I could think about was going back to my hotel room, ordering room service, and taking a bath. I quickly grabbed my bag and began walking towards the exit. But as I lowered my gaze to check on my phone, I felt my body slightly bumping into the one of someone else.
“I can’t believe I bumped into you” I said when I looked up. “My name is Kim, and I have been admiring you all day. I just want you to know how beautiful and elegant I think you look.”
I saw her cheeks flashing in red tones and noticed she looked a bit surprised. Then she finally looked up at me and said “Thank you so much. You don’t know how much I needed to hear that today… All the women at this conference look so trendy and beautiful as if they just walked out of a magazine and I’ve been feeling a little bit outdated. I am Juliette by the way.”
Juliette was glowing, and I felt incredible for following my intuition and having the courage to tell her what I saw in her. Above all, I felt proud of choosing to admire women around me rather than judging them as I used to do until not too long ago.
Did you ever notice that young children don’t judge? They don’t care how someone looks, what the color of their skin is, what someone is wearing or what language they speak!!
I have known judgement my whole life.
You see, I used to be that girl. That girl who was too fat. The one whose parents were divorced, at a time where divorce wasn’t part of normal life. The girl who got bullied by her classmates until she left for High School.
Don’t get me wrong. My life wasn’t bad. And eventually the bullying stopped. But truth be told, I spent a majority of my life allowing others opinions to dictate the way I felt about myself and if it wasn’t for a massive amount of work on my side, I would still feel like the girl who was too fat, too loud, too much to be loved and accepted.
Today I make my story my strength. Having overcome self-judgment allows me to teach other women to do the same. As a female empowerment coach and a photographer who specialises in women’s portraits and boudoir I teach women how to release the old opinion of themselves and recognize their true beauty. When that happens, when I see a woman free herself from the old stories that she carries from the past, I can feel my heart sing.
Somehow we all know how to live without judgement, but we forget how to do it. We learn to believe the opinions of those who raise and the children we hang out with, and worst off we project our own judgment onto others.
We judge the way people look, the way they dress, the way they talk, and the way they act.
But we don’t stop there. We teach our children to do the same. And suddenly they too start having opinions about how some boy’s hair is too long, someone’s body is too fat, their clothing is too weird, and so on.
So what can you do to end the cycle?
When you are going out with friends, to a bar, or a club, or a concert; how often do you look at other women (because, be honest, they are the most easy prey) and think or even say out loud; OMG How can she possibly wear her hair like that, did you see the color on her eyes?! And that dress……!
Can you start to look differently at another woman? Instead of judging her, can you look at her and recognize she too did her absolute best to look and feel good for her night out?
If she likes what she is wearing, who am I to say otherwise?
Long story short, my dear Juliette, I am so grateful that I noticed you. You are beautiful and I am happy that I was able to brighten up your day.
As for you, the one who is reading this article–give it a try; when you notice another woman and you think she looks amazing, you like her outfit, love her fancy earrings or admire her thick and shiny hair, just say it. It will take you a few seconds, but it will mean the world to her.
And if you feel uncomfortable saying it outloud, just say it in your mind. Give her that compliment when you make eye contact, soften your lips into a little smile while you think those words.
Everyone can use some extra love these days and by honoring the light in them we brighten our own.