I’m wondering what you think about this question because I’m doing a workshop on Saturday, November 21st that’s dedicated to “Mastering the Art of First Impressions.” This seems to be a very important topic for anyone undergoing a personal reinvention and many of my blog readers and clients are working toward transformation.
While in Paris on my recent vacation I wondered about this issue. It seems like such a global concern that, as if the local news media were reading my mind, TV news channel France 24 ran a feature piece about whether natural-looking people had an actual place in fashion.
To make the point, they ran a commercial spot created by the Dove soap company’s Campaign For Real Beauty made for the Canadian media market that showed a model out of makeup and who underwent her own sped-up step-by-step transformation for a billboard piece. But what was truly alarming, beyond the countless steps, was that her visual image was digitally enhanced to retouch her eyebrows and elongate her neck. She could never have had those physical features otherwise.
This begs the question for both men and women: in a quest to look one’s best, how much should one do to achieve that “best” looking appearance? And is putting all that effort into one’s appearance being authentic?
My professional sense is that many people would love to get away with doing as little as possible to maintain a good appearance because it does take some effort. However, the reality is that people with good self-esteem are willing to put an effort into grooming and dressing themselves. Even people fighting depression or illness will push themselves to overcome their obstacles by making themselves look as good as they can. This example shows how crucial one’s appearance can be and how its origins come from within.
Personal authenticity is defined as your individual genuineness or truth. The piece I caught on France 24 really grabbed my attention because it’s important to look your best but not to go so far that you buy into unrealistic expectations as set forth by the media or by fashion designers.
We never hear about the men’s body image issues that we hear about in women. But they do exist. As the roles of men in society continue to shift the expectations of what women seem to want in their men are shifting, too. Not so many women will readily admit to this, but among the younger generation, the desire for thin, feminized male bodies is in. All you have to do is flip through the latest editions of men’s magazines to see what the models look like to know how the expectations are shifting.
My point is that these expectations aren’t any more realistic than the expectation that all women are size 4s. We know the size of the average American woman is a size 12. I believe authenticity is about making yourself look your best with what you’ve got to work with. What’s unauthentic is going to extreme measures to achieve some new look.
So if you’re someone who’s concerned with making a positive and authentic impression, why not consider attending the workshop I’m doing with Nina Price on November 21st. At the very least, you’ll learn about how to “Master the Art of First Impressions.”
Designing and managing your image is the secret science of your success.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps professional men and corporate workgroups create effective visual brands. Visit JosephRosenfeld.com for details.