It’s hard to bring up something that brought me a lot of displeasure and heartache three years ago. It was a growing moment for me, and I’m grateful that it happened, though it came at a price. But, I apparently brought displeasure and heartache to someone who was my client, and a friend. It was not my intention to do that to her or to anyone. In effect and looking back on it, she taught me a crucial pre #metoo body shaming lesson.
At the time, I would occasionally post onto my personal Facebook page photos of people I would see in public. What I would do is snap a photo of a person who I thought could have turned herself out better in the public setting where I would spot my subject. The person’s face was always obscured to protect their identity. What I intended to show was how people left their homes wearing ill-fitted or poorly chosen clothing. In actuality, I acted on impulse, wishing that I could magically help people who I thought could benefit from my guidance into discovering their best personal style. Well, it didn’t go so well.
My client/friend read me the riot act. I honestly hadn’t considered that what I did could be hurtful. It honestly was not my intention. Friends who also know me well, and know my spirit, came to my defense. What I did upset my client/friend, and I felt wounded by her reaction. We have not spoken since. And, I have to say, I miss her dearly. I loved working with her, enjoyed her company immeasurably, and we always had the best hugs.
So, how could something so right go so wrong? I felt wounded because I thought that she knew me well enough to know that my intentions were not sinister. After all, we had a close relationship.
Ever since that moment of separation, I got a crucial pre #metoo body shaming lesson.
I’ve never done another post like that.
I occasionally made such posts because I genuinely wanted to have an outreach to help people. It was more marketing driven, to prove that I could help people who weren’t living up to the potential that I thought they had. Maybe this was presumptuous of me. Shouldn’t a person see and want to live up to her or his own full potential on their own? I’ve had to learn the lesson the hard way that it’s none of my business.
Perhaps this desire to market my expertise came out of so many people who would tell me about people who they only wished I could help. Talking to people about improving their style and image is not easy for anyone to do. Not even I can do it. Yes, I have to inform people what I do and how I do it. And they have to assess if they value the experience at the level I deliver. It’s not really that easy. People have to be ready, and I can’t make a person become ready.
So, I learned a crucial pre #metoo body shaming lesson. Just don’t do it, on even the most innocuously intended level.
I’m thinking about this again lately because I’ve been dealing with clients for years, including presently, who body shame themselves! What someone does to herself does not excuse my wrongdoing. But, like my clients who body shame themselves, we are all human and perfectly imperfect. However, when a client chooses to compare her body to that of her teenage daughter, it gives me pause. That’s harmful stuff, and it happens right in front of the three-way mirror in my studio. When it does happen, I do not sit idly by either.
I would never dishonor a client’s body. It’s honestly not my style to disparage people’s appearances. Moreover, I have great empathy for people because of how terribly I was disparaged for my appearance.
So, when faced with someone’s self-shaming moment, I always offer comfort and support. Body shape is whatever it is. There is never any shame in that. The issue is how to address body shape so that it positively impacts one’s personal style. Additionally, I also offer my clients permission and a concept to think differently as a way of honoring their struggles.
Because I learned a crucial pre #metoo body shaming lesson, I have doubled down as an ardent body positive advocate. I always was that way, but this made me re-commit to this advocacy. In the end, though, each of us has to own our own sense of body positivity. Whether it’s you, me, my lost client/friend whose nerve I surely struck, or clients, feeling secure ultimately comes from ourselves.
In my studio recently, a client apologized about her self-assessed notion that she is the most challenging client ever. To which I said, “you are welcome to prove yourself wrong at any moment.” There’s nothing quite like giving yourself love in the face of feeling personal shame. Your whole life can change in an instant. I’m absolutely at the ready to help those at that point of transformation and who are ready to surrender to discover their best personal style.
In helping you to be exactly who you are, my job is to listen, be attentive, encourage creativity and experiment. To fully expresses who you are without apology. Click here for more insights.