Over the years of designing fashion and being around so many women I’ve learned how our self-talk can mess with the image we hold of ourselves. That when some are told, “You look great today,” what they hear is, “You look better today than you usually look.”
That when some are told, “You’ve got gorgeous hair,” they feel uncomfortable accepting praise for something that is genetic, inherited, and mainly beyond their control.
That when some are told, “You look fabulous in that dress” they feel the underlying implication is, “You have conformed to social beauty norms. Good job.”
Frustrating and sad…Because I believe that often when your near and dear ones, especially those who genuinely like and love you, hand out these compliments, they don’t have a hidden agenda that’s intentionally tied to manufactured norms, fueled by keeping tabs on how “good” or “bad” you look from day to day, or based in the belief that biological traits are the only ones worthy of praise. They give compliments so that you feel appreciated, significant, noticed, and happy. They give the compliments to lift your spirits.
And knowing that an urge to promote positivity may be inadvertently creating negativity saddens me.
In a society that promotes unrealistic body ideals, it is challenging to not get caught up in comparing oneself to these unrealistic standards.
I am well aware of the challenge most women face around their body image because I too have gone down that road. As I shared in my TEDx talk: Is Your Body Image Holding You Back? it took an accident for me to wake up and realize that my body is my best friend.
“If you talked to your friends the way you talk to your body, you would have no friends left”
This quote sounds a bit harsh and yet it’s an amazingly effective concept to keep in mind if and when you find yourself tempted to engage in body-bashing. All those accusations you’re flinging at your thighs, wrinkles, bony joints, cellulite, and age spots? Would you ever consider saying those things to someone you love? Or even say them aloud when you’re AROUND someone you love? You’ll be amazed by how quickly your negative self-talk is put into perspective when you compare it to the thoughts you would consider expressing to others.
The media does not help us love ourselves either. If you haven’t noticed, women of size grossly lack representation in our media, especially in the beauty and fashion arena. This lack of representation is the reason many feel so much anxiety around their body image. They cannot see a likeness of their body successfully performing so many tasks or doing anything that involves engaging in public appearances.
Consequently this has left many with an element of unknown to overcome.
Because of body image issues, many women experience depression, anxiety, anger and even self-loathing. Let that not be you.
Here are a few steps I personally implemented that I found extremely effective. I suggest you do the same so you too can begin to shift your awareness and change your body image:
1. Stop comparing yourself to others
2. Focus on what you have the power to change
3. Dress as if you’re exactly how you wish to be seen
4. Surround yourself with positive people
5. Surround yourself with beauty
6. Practice self-care
7. Build a support system
8. Treat yourself as you treat others you love
I would like to encourage you to assume positive intent when it comes to compliments. I believe most praise ought to come from gut-level reactions to seeing pleasing things, rather than stem from premeditated hopes of undercutting confidence or long-term comparisons.
When people see beauty, they remark. If it is your beauty that is being remarked upon, I’d urge you to see the good inherent in that act instead of defaulting to suspicion. It won’t always be possible, but it’s something to strive for.
You and your body? You’re in this together.
Your body is your best friend. Perhaps the only friend that will stick by you for the rest of your life.
Accept and love this friend. And know that working as a united front is likely to lead to more good than bad.
© Rani St. Pucchi, 2018
Rani St. Pucchi is an award-winning Couture Fashion Designer, a Style & Image Consultant, and a Relationship Expert. She is a Bestselling Author, an Inspirational Speaker, and a Success Coach and Trainer. Her recent TEDx talk: Is Your Body Image Holding You Back has received worldwide acclaim. Rani’s #1 International Bestselling Books, Your Body, Your Style: Simple Tips on Dressing to Flatter Your Body Type ; The SoulMate Checklist: Keys to Finding Your Perfect Partner; and Your Bridal Style: Everything You Need to Know to Design the Wedding of Your Dreams are available on Amazon and at Barnes & Nobles.
For more information on Rani please visit www.ranistpucchi.com