What do you say to yourself when you catch a glimpse of yourself reflected in a shop window, or car mirror. How are you judging yourself?
It can be too easy to be harsher on ourselves than a nun catching you wearing a too short skirt (that you’ve actually rolled up a few inches, and paired with reflective non-regulation patent shoes…can you tell I used to be a convent girl…)
What do you say to yourself when you wake up in the morning and first see yourself in the bathroom mirror?
Many women start the day something like this: “I look so tired, I look so old, why do I look so rough, wow, my eye bags are so puffy today, where did all these wrinkles come from, why can’t I find anything that suits me…”
But where does this matinal self flagellation come from, and how can you step into your Next Level You – into renewed confidence and contentment, style and self love – so that you feel fabulous and definitely more vavavoom?
1. Reflect on your style story – be your own style detective!
Where have your beliefs about style and self image come from? Your partner, your culture, your family, your education, the books you read, the series you watch – the way you were raised?
It doesn’t have to be negative or positive – just think about what beliefs you have, and where those beliefs about appearance, about femininity, about yourself might have come from.
I’m from a family where I rarely saw my mother wearing trousers as a child (she was a primary school teacher, and not allowed to wear trousers at the time.) Other women in our close knit community likewise constantly wore skirts and were always polished (as well as being Polish. Sorry not sorry, I love a pun.) Our war inspired Polish uniforms – based on what our grandmothers might have worn when they were crossing the world with the army – were loose pencil skirts, with heavily symbolic medals and ropes, and a waist cinching belt with a fancy metal buckle. Likewise, as a dancer, dresses were heavy, but they didn’t stop you from swirling, or being thrown up into the air by male dancers. The message was undoubtedly that women can do anything in skirts, and that informed my early ideas of elegance and femininity.
How we saw other early examples of femininity, or of our female role models treating themselves, informs and affects your beliefs – perhaps that no man would find an older woman attractive for example, or maybe you had a mum that was always dieting, leading you to believe the smaller the better, or that it is undesirable to love the size you are, that you should try to change.
2. Consider what you consume
If you are constantly reading about 20 something celebrities and models in itsy bitsy dresses hanging off the arms of much older men, or publications with overly re-touched images of women with no apparent wrinkles or eye bags – even when they are a well known mid-life celebrity – or of tales of dramatic weight loss that leads to them looking fabulous with perfect ‘bikini bodies,’ it can be easy to subconsciously slip into negative belief cycles about age and appearance.
Likewise magazines that are telling you what you should wear at certain times in your life – you know the sorts of articles – ‘6 hair styles perfect for the over 40s.’ Age appropriate is what you want it to be at your age!
3. How does this impact you today?
Whilst I was often in a skirt, my parents had a strong idea of equality and fairness, and my brother and I were often dressed the same…At the same time, I dreamed of pointy shoes with bows – especially ones where the buckle could move to the back like I’d seen other girls wearing. I was even exempt from wearing the regulation shoes at my strict school, as mama had found a more masculine style appropriate for my apparently wider feet. This made me miserable (even if today they’d be the epitome of cool!) I thought I’d always be stuck with my Bigfoot problem, in boys shoes…But by the time I got to the sixth form, where the rules loosened a little – I was ready to rebel in cute mini-heeled Mary Janes, worn with sheer black 15 deniers, and even today I’m a big fan of a frou frou shoes following years of frumpty dumpty shoes.
This might be a lighthearted example, but conditioning from our childhood – the fact that your grandmother called you ‘attractive’ rather than ‘pretty’ or ‘beautiful’ as she called your friends (true story,) can linger for years, and subconsciously impact your self-belief and ideas about style and appearance.
Spin your Script!
Having brainstormed where your style beliefs come from, it’s time to spin the script on your style beliefs. It’s about noticing and intentionality – when you catch yourself saying something less than pleasant about yourself – release the belief – remember it’s only conditioning, and spin it to something kinder. For example, ‘oh my thighs look so big today,’ becomes ‘I’m grateful my thighs are strong and support me,’ or ‘I look so tired and wrinkly’ could become ‘wow, I’ve lived for so long already and achieved so much, I’m awake and ready for a new day.’ ‘I’ll never be beautiful,’ could become ‘ideas of beauty are ever shifting and entirely subjective, I am beautiful in my own unique way and I also have many beautiful gifts that I bring to the world.’
Likewise, be conscious about what you look at, and more intentional about new style stories you are surrounding yourself with.
Spin your script to self kindness
I don’t promise that you’ll never have an off day, or have that moment of shock when you go to take a picture and the camera on your phone is unintentionally still on selfie mode (I’m oft shocked at how many chins I appear to have during these ghastly moments,) but it will help to re-frame negative self talk, and gradually change your beliefs.
Likewise, when I work with clients with my unique Next Level You method, we uncover deep rooted beliefs about style and appearance, in order to move forward into lasting positive change.
By spinning your script you will:
1. Feel more confident, in control and self aware
Become more intentional to noticing that harsh inner critic – meaning you can tell it to bugger off more easily, as well as flipping the switch to self kindness to generate more good vibes! Emotions are contagious – so you’ll start to feel more positive about your appearance (a smile begets a smile!) and those around you will notice too!
2. Leave behind old beliefs that are no longer serving you and unleash more vavavoom!
You are able to see yourself (and your old beliefs) more objectively, so that you can get a much better sense of what you want now and what suits you now. When you unburden yourself of much of the negative chatter and inherited beliefs about style – when you can see them as changeable beliefs that are simply a result of conditioning – you feel lighter, and can start having more fun appreciating your positives and, just like I do with my clients – enjoy discovering your next level you – and your Inside Out Style Identity for this chapter in your life.
3. Feel unstuck with an increased sense of freedom to embody your next level you!
Understand yourself more deeply without the strong self judgement that can keep you stuck in the past – for example ‘I’m not as slim as I used to be,’ that can stop you from taking action – for example ‘I’ll look good and re-do my wardrobe when I’ve lost weight.’ You won’t be unintentionally making excuses, or looking for short term solutions, or a ‘fake it till you make it’ approach. You will start to evolve and embody all aspects of yourself, and your next level style, with greater ease and deepened self belief.
It starts with you. You are beautiful.
If you’d like some guidance on evolving your modern mid-life style identity and losing those limiting beliefs so that you feel fabulous, book a complimentary style consultation here.
Lots of love xoxo