Recently I was reminded of the complete toxicity of comparison by one of my clients. She couldn’t seem to ever see herself in a positive light as she didn’t feel even when wearing her best, which she liked in theory, but she never felt great or thought she looked good because she compared her unique body and appearance to those of others who she deemed stylish, and found herself lacking and therefore didn’t feel attractive in anything.
As an image consultant I have the joy of working with women of all shapes, ages and sizes. I see beauty in everyone and one of the most beautiful aspects of women is how different we all are. To me there is no one ideal of body shape or age or personal style that is the best. We are all beautiful and can look attractive when we understand who we are, work with our unique features and express ourselves authentically through those tools of clothing and grooming.
There is no point in comparing yourself to someone who is taller or shorter. To someone who is slimmer or curvier. To someone who is a different race or body shape. These bits of us are what makes us us! They are what makes us unique and an individual. Sure sometimes those features make it harder to buy off-the-rack clothing as that is made for a generic height and shape in many ways (a mannequin and a coat-hanger, neither which are real bodies). But that shouldn’t make us constantly compare ourselves to others and find ourselves lacking. We need to start to look for the beauty in us, rather than the flaws (which is what most women do, always concentrate on the flaws).
As I always tell my clients, dress your portrait first, as so many women when they dress are more concerned about their butt/hips/thighs/stomach/arms/boobs/etc. than their communication centre, their face. Yet when I communicate with you, I’m not spending my time speaking to your thighs, I’m looking in your eyes, and if you dress that area first, adding some detail to keep my attention there, I’m not even going to notice what you perceive as a flaw.
Rather than compare yourself, your body and your style with envy and a feeling of lack to others, instead enjoy what they offer to the world if you like what you see there, but then also appreciate what you have to offer the world too in your own unique way. Envy is toxic and letting go of it will help you feel good about yourself instead of always finding yourself not as stylish as those you admire. Don’t be a clone of someone else (and I know from personal experience when you try and copy someone else’s style it doesn’t feel authentic or make you feel confident), instead be an inspiration to others who may also not be tall, slim models who seem to have been born with innate style.
If you read all the Stylish Thoughts here that have been contributed by women of all ages, body shapes and personality styles shows that there is no one way to be stylish. In fact each can inspire you to find your style but we don’t compare them as they are individuals or rank them as they each have something to offer us in our understanding of style.
You can learn to create your own style, and I know it’s possible as I see so many women who are taking part in my Evolve Your Style challenge and I see how they develop their own style as they play through the challenges and I see their confidence grow. I know it’s possible to learn how to have style (that’s what I’m here to teach you on this blog). Fortunately it’s not just a creative art that you have to be born with. You can learn the concepts and apply them to your uniqueness. But also don’t forget to have fun. Comparison sucks the fun out of life, yet dressing creatively and stylishly is about having fun and sometimes stepping out of our comfort zones to try something new or different.
Look for inspiration from the stylings of others, but please don’t compare!
Thank you, Imogen, for these lovely and inspiring words of wisdom!
Excellent piece. Many people go through transitions -fat, thin, depressed, stressed, illness, recovering from illness etc. The important thing is how you deal with it
If you can “keep up
appearances” it is a very great help, not only for you but for everyone you have contact with.
Oscar de la Renta said that dressing well is a habit and if you don’t dress well every day, you lose the habit. So true. If you make a habit of trying to look your best, it gets easier and easier to pull clothes and accessories from your wardrobe which make a successful ensemble.
No more dreading running into people when you’ve made no effort.
Once you start planning your wardrobe with some thought you’ll never look back.
Great thoughts Michaela
Don’t we all find ourselves in a black hole from time to time? Wishing for longer legs, flatter tummy or smaller feet. And don’t we sometimes end up disappointed when trying on clothes that look great on others, but a disaster on our own body? For some women it happens all the time. That’s where I were when I started blogging. Even as a blogger I went down that path of negativity a few times, comparing myself to those I admired.
Envy and comparison is really the downside of blogging. But I think it often relates to the media’s ideals of how women should look. The very skinny, young models. Some of the most popular bloggers are those that closest matches the media-created ideals. When the blogging society supports the other media, we just confirm the overall standards. So no matter where a woman turns for help and inspiration, the values are the same. If we expect the ourselves to be able to measure up to these standards we can only fail.
Until she either decides to invest in a personal image consultant, or reaches those few, like you, and for example the 40+ bloggers community, who have other standards. Blogs that show how real women tackle the dressing and styling issues, and manage to look amazing whatever their size, age or financial situation. Like you say, when we’re free from envy and comparison we can start to have fun, get creative and celebrate our uniqueness. And then we can shine!
Sorry for the long comment, I’ll make it short next time 🙂
Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I agree that so many of the big fashion bloggers offer nothing different from the mainstream media. Fortunately there are lots of regular women who also blog who can inspire
Hi Imogen – I enjoy your blog very much and have been following for a couple of years. I like the new site, but could you please explain how to stop the advertising on the right of the screen from blinking? It’s very difficult to read your articles with that going on. It distracts from your thoughtful prose. Many thanks!
WOW! What an appropriate title for how I was thinking/feeling the past few days! And thanks for being one of those people that sees past all these insecurities! I also feel that I never look good in anything and I’m always – and I mean ALWAYS trying to hide my weight & my – excuse me but I must get it out – BIG FAT ROUND, seemingly ever growing ABUNDANT TUMMY!!! And for the most part I will never get past the fact that this tummy carried a beautiful baby boy for nearly 10 months that I had at almost the age of 41. Sure I got back into shape til I hit about 50, then with increasing upper back issues, could no longer do all the exercises necessary to keep in shape. And I fully agree with kaffesoester the media, the bloggers, society, men, almost everyone think we should all fit into a fashion model-looking mold. Ugh!
This is why I can not figure out what my true shape is. I keep thinking apple or O shape – because of my tummy, but I may actually be a (very fortunate) X shape. But until I send in a pic for you to help me with I won’t really know.
Anyway enough whining – I love your column, fashion sense and comments. You are truly a fabulous woman with a fantastic mind-set!
Thank you so much!
ROFL…”I am not speaking to your thighs”. so true..I believe we are consumed by the media and everything around us making us feel less than…rather than v r enough. Not surprising that France banning thin models becomes top news..