Picture this scene (I’m sure it won’t be difficult — I am sure we have all, at one time or another, been there…some more than once)…I am at the hair salon, in for a much-needed cut and highlights. My roots have grown out way beyond my comfort zone and my hair is shaggy and with split ends. I don’t feel all that hot about how my hair is looking, but I’m wearing what I think is an okay outfit – a pair of dark Mavi jeans (albeit in a size or two bigger than I daydream about fitting into), a hip length tight black Lululemon jacket with little ruffles, a tank top underneath that and a pair of pink and black floral slip-on Vans. I change into a smock in the small changing room and as I hang up my jacket I see a Burberry trench coat hanging there. “Hmm,” I think, “That’s pretty expensive…”
I’m greeted by David, my stylist, and we walk to his chair. As I approach it, I see her. She’s a local publicist, and someone with whom I have interacted throughout the years. I have even written about some of her clients’ products. She’s fabulous. She’s beautiful, and stylish, and slim, and fit. And she obviously has a lot of money, I think, as the Burberry coat flashes through my mind.
And it takes me oh, about .3 of a second to feel awful about myself. As I sit down, I take in my reflection in the mirror. How come I look so tired? Oh yeah…I have a toddler at home, and any free time is spent on my magazine, right. My jeans look faded and I’ve got them rolled up once because they’re too long. My shoes, which looked cool and funky at home, look like they’re six years old (which they are) and that the dog got after them (which he did). I feel fat, and frumpy, and my light…has gone out. Or dimmed significantly.
Now, I’m an intelligent woman, and not one who is usually plagued by self esteem problems, but there’s something about the way I’m doing things these days (running around only half finishing everything, and this includes my appearance), that puts me in a bit of a weakened state. My formerly fabulous self lost a ton of weight with breastfeeding, only to gain a lot of it back recently, I might go a day or two without really washing my face because I am so bloody tired that I’d just rather go to bed at night, or get to a cup of coffee in the morning, I have developed a frozen shoulder from the load of my son and the added weight I’ve been carrying around so I can’t do my hair very well, and I don’t go out for meetings or even socially all that much, so I haven’t invested in any new clothing, and why even bother with makeup? I guess I’ve let myself go a little.
As I sat in that salon for the next two hours, looking alternately at myself and the publicist in the mirror, I went through a range of emotions but I can tell you that for the bulk of the appointment, I struggled to decide whose reflection I preferred. And then, after a lot of thought and self-talk, the cloud above me (and the one inside my head) lifted.
I remembered the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”, and I tweaked it. You can’t make yourself feel inferior without your consent.
That came into my mind, and next, the simple words stop it. Stop it! Stop giving into that small niggling voice, or the big yelling one, that says all those dark, ugly words:
It’s easier, like so many things, in theory than it is in practice. It’s nice to say stop it, it’s hard as hell to stop. But it’s so worth it. I let this woman ruin part of my day…well WAIT!! I take that back. I let MYSELF ruin part of my day — the only thing she had to do with it is that she was there at that moment. Substitute her with any other woman and the result would probably have been the same.
I think of myself as pretty well put together, quite evolved and certainly above experiencing something like that little episode…frankly, it’s what I espouse in the pages of Delish — to feel delish about yourself and your life, and what to do to feel even more so.
The truth of the matter is that some days we’re going to feel like crap…and I KNOW that if you stopped ten women on the street or asked ten of your friends, we have all felt this way, when in the room with someone we deemed to be prettier, slimmer, more stylish, etc.
That shared experience counts for something. To me it means that there’s the possibility, ever so slight, that the publicist felt as ugly and frumpy when looking at me, as I did when I laid my eyes upon her. And frankly, I don’t want her to, and I hope she didn’t. We need to let all of our lights shine, and I don’t want mine to shine more brightly because someone else’s is dimmer.
It’s got to, it just has to, come from inside.
Here’s what I did then, and what I do as often as I need to, to get that inner light burning brightly again — I made a mental list all of those things that make me who I am, and that make me proud of who I am. You should try it…
Think about them, name them, believe them…and finally, believe yourself when you think them.
Live like you mean it,