People don’t notice your flaws until you point them out. I learned this from a friend, many years ago at University. She had heaps of friends and appeared very attractive. One day I asked her what her secret was and she told me that she never ever points out what she perceives to be a flaw to anyone. More recently I read an interview with Elle McPherson who was asked if she had any flaws, and she too refuses to name them. What my friend had realized all those years ago was that if you point something out to people, then they focus on it. But if you don’t, most people really don’t notice.
I believe that there are no flaws. What makes us uniquely us, different from the next person, is what makes us “us” and beautiful. I’ve discovered in my travels that what may be perceived as unattractive in Australia is attractive in a different part of the world.
Everything is an asset, it’s just that some assets we want to flaunt, and some we want not to draw attention to. Don’t believe me? Well as most of you are aware, I have a large bust, and many would want to flaunt it, but I would rather it wasn’t the first thing people notice about me, so take steps to make it less obvious.
Today, doing personal colour analysis training, one of our lovely models found it hard to believe that we all thought that she had the most divine peaches and cream skin. All she noticed were a couple of miniscule reddish patches on her cheeks. That was her focus while we saw her as a whole, and a beautiful one at that.
If you tend to have a lot of negative body image self talk, this is not good for your mental health and it’s time that you started working on improving it. You can start by appreciating your body. You’re alive, many aren’t. If you are healthy, then that’s another brilliant bonus. If you can walk and move freely, then your body is working to assist you daily. Maybe rather than running it down, it’s time you said ‘thank you’ and appreciated what it does for you each day.
Stop taking in the negative messages that the media put out about body shape. All those trashy magazines at the supermarket checkout with judgments on the size and shape of celebrities bodies is toxic to your own self-esteem and body image. Avoid partaking in that kind of information. Just like you would avoid toxic people who are negative and create unnecessary stress in your life. Avoid other information sources that harm your body image. If anyone comments on your body in a negative way, tell them, politely, to mind their own business and keep their opinions (and that’s all they are, opinions, not facts) to themselves.
But not only do you have to stop buying into the negative talk of others you need to avoid your own negative self-talk. So the next time you’re about to tell people about a body part that you are less than happy with, I want you to stop yourself, and don’t speak. It may take time to get used to not running yourself down to others, but over time you too will start to appreciate what a creature of beauty you are as the negative self talk you have is not legitimized by being spoken and confirmed by others.
How true Imogen. I am guilty of doing the same and after a while it does become part of your persona and thinking, so today I will start to appreciate my body and stop that negative thinking. Thank you for posting.
Why are we all so harsh on ourselves?
I am learning to keep my mouth shut and concentrate on the positive. Its is a slow process.
Just a request: would you please be able to do a refresher post on the power of the third piece, as a technique, especially as we ‘ downunder ‘ have a stinky hot summer approaching? I find that most suggestions from other blogs do not address dressing for our truly hot summers since jackets do not work.
Imogen, I knew as soon as I saw your title you were going to mention “the skin”. As I cleansed my face last night I really looked at myself and I seriously thought about your comments. Time to ditch the negativity and embrace my assets. Thank you all for the compliment.
Wonderful post, Imogen! Another thing I’d like to point out is that those of us who are mothers owe it to ourselves to love our selves/bodies, & not to pass negativity along to our children, especially our daughters.
Women owe it to themselves to pass along your very important message. Many women of a certain age tend to bemoan the fact that there appearance changed as they aged and have great difficulty accepting themselves as they stand in front of the mirror. Some give up completely, some accept and move forward, and others choose their battles and stand their ground for as long as they are able. Yes, women should not beat themselves up because the “fashion industry” has marginalized them for maturing. Rather, they should celebrate themselves for the beauty and wisdom that living gifted them and take pride in their mature bodies. Shame is what I observe in some of my friends. THey are ashamed for being curvier than they once were, apologetic for the creases, and happy their eyesight is not as sharp. Most of my friends maintain their humor as they browse a current fashion magazine, but I am encouraging them to check out your blog and a few others that provide them support and validation that the youth oriented fashion industry fails to give. I am SO with you on this matter.
I have struggled with negative body image and discovered Inside Out Style several months ago, after I had finished regaining weight from a bout of disordered eating. During this difficult period, and to this day, your style advice has really helped me adjust to the changes and prompted me to accept my body the way it naturally is. You certainly are right, a beautiful body is a healthy body, and that encompasses a wide array of shapes and sizes. We need to learn to appriciate and love every aspect of our unique bodies. Thank you, Imogen, for your wonderful words of encouragement. They have made all the difference for me.
I’ve been asking myself why I point out my flaws to others, and I’ve realized that with women (socially), it’s a form of bonding and commiseration. Men don’t have that same dynamic and seem very confused by it. I first noticed the negative impact of this public self-negativity at work. First, I thought I was just being humble, but I think this goes well beyond humility and moves into a subtle self-sabotage. Now, I try to consciously stop myself from doing this, and when I’m being hard on myself, I try to find something positive to counteract it. Being self-positive has been surprisingly hard!
One fun thing I do is play along with the guys’ bravado contests a little bit. I have many male friends and coworkers, and sometimes I’ll try their dynamic in a conversation, just for kicks. It really does boost me up a little bit despite the silly nature of the one-upmanship, and helps me practice being positive about myself.
Thank you Imogen for a piece that hits the mark. And v65, why do women need to bond by commiserating rather than celebrating? I will be thinking about that question for awhile.
Highlighting the mistake of pointing out your own flaws is so timely as I look forward to my 45th high school reunion! Cheers, Tina
This post reminds me about a line of lyric from a Regina Spector song that I have thought about a lot… “I have a perfect body, but sometimes I forget. I have a perfect body, ’cause my eye lashes catch my sweat”. I love that, the simplicity; why make it more complicated than it has to be?
Also… I don’t really buy into the supposed “fact” that women’s bodies are perfect when we’re young, I think the reality of it is a lot simpler than that. Namely that our bodies hold their shape better when we’re young and with the overall decline in quality and fit that comes with consumerism and fast trends – our bodies better hold their own shape in order to look good. When we’re young it just doesn’t show in the same way that we wear: the wrong bra size, clothes that don’t fit properly and sometimes are down right painfully uncomfortable, items that are the completely wrong shape for the body type, colours that don’t flatter us one bit… etc. etc. The body compensates for all that. So when our bodies start to loose firmness and pigmentation, it’s a miracle that we’re not more confused than we are about style, colours, fit and body shape. The “change” in mindset needed is really a paradigm shift.
Z – I love your attitude and thoughts on this subject!
Hi, I know this is an old post but I wanted to ask a question. How can you love your body when it is NOT healthy? For instance, I have a malformation of my chest, spinal curvature, and alopecia areata as well as other chronic health problems. I can hide these things (eg wearing a wig) but it gets me down.
Holly – If you consider the other option, then making the most of what you have, rather than focussing on the negative, will help you to love your body. It’s the only body you’ve got, and even if you do have more than the regular number of health problems, what about the joy it has brought you over time? What about the love you give others and receive from them? What about the fun you’ve had? Without your body, that wouldn’t have happened!
Hey I know this is an old post. But I just wanted to share my experience of others. I have suffered from low self-esteem for the longest while. I am really trying to improve it. However a few negative comments from my friends have actually added to my list of insecurities. I have added my big nose, my big feet, my skin, my high hips/violin hips, my open pores on my legs, my dark underarms, my small breasts, my hair and my saggy butt all because I’ve had multiple comments from people (both friends and family) about them. I did not even care about these until I was made to feel like a freak.
Sometimes I wish I was alone because I feel like I’d hate myself just that little bit less. I don’t know what to do because no matter how much I try to not let it get to me it does. It feels like a never ending battle.
I believe I am fearfully and wonderfully made, but I used to have a running laundry list of my perceived flaws similar to June. And as she also mentioned, had friends and even the parents of friends make comments about my body that added to my list. As a teenager I constantly compared myself to the young women I saw in magazines and catalogues. I was forever looking for a model that had (fill in the blank perceived flaw) and never did find one. One day in my 20s I decided to quit looking at fashion mags and quit watching tv (though I do watch some now on occassion) and I found I was so much more content with my own body. I still had some insecurities but a few things happened that really made me appreciate my body for its function, and not just its form, that was giving birth and seeing how powerful and amazing my body really was. The second, in my 30’s now was getting Lyme disease and almost not surviving. Now I am so happy that I am alive and that I can still move, breathe, hug my children, and love my husband. It has given me even more reason to love and appreciate my body in sickness and in health, to death do us part, haha. I so appreciate this blog and how you encourage women to celebrate the unique bodies they have been given. Your perspective on style is so refreshing!
Thanks for sharing your story Marie – wow you’ve been through some hard times – I do think that women just don’t appreciate our bodies enough – comparison is totally toxic! I’m glad that you no longer compare and it can be so hard to avoid doing this.