I’ve just finished writing my latest newsletter, during which I included an article about finding a suitable outfit for a special occasion and it struck me that although it is quite easy for an image consultant, such as myself, to offer helpful, constructive advice to others, it’s often hard to take the same advice ourselves. With our training we can quite easily analyse a client’s body shape, colouring, style personality etc., and use that information, together with their budget and dress code for the event, to pick out a rail of potential outfits and accessories without the angst the client themself might go through. But put an image consultant in the same situation as the client and it’s often the case that we suffer exactly the same concerns. We may know exactly what style suits our body shape and which shades will flatter our natural colouring, but when it comes to dressing for a family wedding or some other major social event our ability to put together the perfect look can fly straight out of the window. But why should this be the case? Well, it could be that many of those attending the event will probably know that you are an image consultant and will undoubtedly be scrutinising every aspect of your ensemble, making you feel even more pressure to get it just right. Or it could just be because it is much easier for someone else to see what will work for you, than you can yourself. I’m always telling my clients that we are all our own biggest critic, always focussing on the negative, and that is just the same if you are an image consultant. Despite knowing how to dress to hide those areas you don’t like about yourself, you can still find yourself looking in the mirror and seeing only the less than flat tummy, or thighs the size of oak trees! Someone else looking at you from an impartial perspective can be far more pragmatic about what they see. We can also get a little carried away with wearing colour or over-accessorising an outfit – we can’t always see that ‘less is more’. So you see, being an image consultant can be a blessing, or occasionally a curse – even we would benefit from the services of an image consultant sometimes. Judith Mercer U Look Great! Note from Lyn – Great idea Judith – that is why we are arranging a date for consultants to all get together in the summer to shop for each other! It’s always great to get new ideas and an new perspective – it’s fun too! We will blog about the experience in the summer.
What do you feel when you look at this image? It has caused a huge amount of discussion over the last few days, almost breaking Twitter! It is a photograph of Cindy Crawford, which is reputed to have been leaked from an earlier photo shoot for Marie Claire. The shot has not been airbrushed or photo-shopped at all. It may come as quite a shock, even to adults, that most images we see in magazines have been enhanced in some way.
We’ve become conditioned to look at photographs that are perceived as ‘flawless’ or ‘perfect’. In who’s eyes I wonder. The reaction by many people, particularly women, has been one of relief! “Thank goodness, even super models have stretch marks”. “She looks more ‘normal”. I believe that this could send a great message out to everyone – particularly our daughters. Do we really want them to be measuring themselves against an idealised image of artistic perfection shown in many magazines? When I talk about body confidence in schools, pupils are pretty savvy to the fact that airbrushing happens. They love the before and after pictures and enjoy spotting the differences and exactly what has been altered. Every time I run this exercise, even with children as young as 11, they are all shocked by the degree of image manipulation that happens. They often feel cross that companies dupe us into thinking that the images are real life.
Isn’t it about time someone as influential as Cindy showed us what it is really like? If she chose to do this, I’m really pleased. If she didn’t choose and someone leaked it, I’m still pleased it’s out in the open and Cindy seems to be pretty gracious about it – I for one have been banging the drum for transparency and authenticity for years! Most importantly, she looks confident and self assured, qualities to be proud of in any woman. In a recent interview she said “I really think—at any age—it’s learning to be comfortable in your own skin. …If women would treat themselves with the same kind of love they give to their friends, that would be such a great gift we could give ourselves. …What makes you the most attractive is self-confidence. That’s what people see.”
Many women we work with have issues with their self-image and confidence. They believe the myth that the media creates and they strive for an unattainable look. The key to being self-confident is to accept yourself the way you are and to make the most of of your natural beauty – just as Cindy Crawford is doing here.
What do you think of the image? – I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA – Managing Director, First Impressions Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI) She is also Director of Regional Events at FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women. Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching. First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map. Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.firstimpressions.uk.com
I heard a statistic on the radio yesterday that 98% of women are unhappy with some element of their body image and think negative thoughts about their body every 15 minutes. If that statistic is true, it makes me feel very sad. It’s not how it has to be. I can sympathise with it though. You see, when I was growing up and went through my teenage years I did everything I could to make my ‘gigantic thighs’ smaller! Those of you who know me, will know that I am not overweight and never have been. But my teenage self couldn’t see that. All I could see was that my friends had ‘lovely slim thighs’, thighs that I coveted and thighs that I spent lots of time and energy in trying to achieve. Countless exercises, starving myself and existing on an apple a day sometimes. Guess what? Those slim thighs never materialised! I got slimmer, of course I did, but I got slimmer everywhere and my thighs were still in the same proportion as they ever were.
Thankfully a friend told my mum what I was doing, because of course I hid it at home (thank you Katherine Haden)! So it didn’t go to the extremes that it could have done if left unchecked. I then got a better perspective of my body image, noticing that I had a really slim waist and as I grew I realised that an ‘hour-glass’ figure is something to be thankful for!
Through First Impression’s image training, I learned how to dress for my shape and to dress in a way that expresses who I am and helps me to feel confident and fabulous. I believe that everyone should have this knowledge, but based on the research, we have a long way to go! 75% of 11-21 year old girls diet to look more attractive (research by Girl Guiding UK).
I regularly go into schools to share this information with children at that impressionable age, pre-teen, as their bodies begin to change. I share my story with them and I talk to them about wearing clothes that suit them, not feeling pressured into wearing everything that happens to be in fashion. You all see the result of wearing leggings, skinny jeans and those hideous dropped crotch trousers that makes all young boys look as though they have really short legs! Wear what suits your body shape, wear what makes you look good and most importantly, wear what makes you feel good.
If you are reading this and you are a parent of pre-teens or teens, please let them know that most magazine images are not real, most are airbrushed, re-touched or doctored in some way. I show the children at my workshop images pre and post changes and they love spotting the differences. You would be amazed at how different the real image is. This is one of the contributing factors to beliefs about needing to achieve a ‘perfect’ body. Of course, the media is not the only influence and it can be an easy target. I invite you to also consider your own language as an adult. How do you talk about your body? What do your children hear? Are you setting a good example or are you paving the way for a distorted body image? When I talk to 10-11 year olds there is already talk of being too fat, or too thin – where does that thought come from?
If you would like me to speak at your child’s school, or if I can help you with your own body image, please do get in touch.
If you have any questions, I’m very happy for you to email them privately to me on the email address below.
I am passionate about helping people to be body confident and to look and feel their best.
With my best wishes
Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA – Managing Director, First Impressions
Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI) She is also Membership Director of FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.
Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching.
First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map.
Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038
We are absolutely delighted to be working with Look Good Feel Better charity. There is such synergy with how we work and it’s great to be able to help by using our skills. I shall be personally volunteering at my local cancer centre and many consultants have already come forward to volunteer at their local centres too. We look forward to supporting LGFB and fostering a long term relationship with the charity.
By Ian Daniels – Fundraising & Operations Manager at LGFB
Look Good Feel Better was set up by the Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) and gained charitable status in 1993. Today, the Programme has the support of over 40 leading companies and brands in the Beauty and Fragrance Industry.
In the past 19 years we have reached nearly 100,000 women, of all ages, from teenagers to our oldest patient beneficiary who was a young 93 years old!
Look Good Feel Better helps women cancer patients in the most practical and positive way.
Finding out you have cancer in any form can be daunting and life-changing, and the added stress of the appearance related side effects of treatment can be demoralising and very hard to cope with. This can have serious consequences on self-esteem and confidence at a time when a positive attitude is very important.
LGFB hold free skincare and make-up workshops to help combat the visible side effects of cancer treatment and, in turn, boost confidence and wellbeing.
The sessions are run weekly, fortnightly or monthly for up to 12 people. They are held in over 65 locations throughout the UK, in hospitals and cancer care centres. Since its launch the Look Good Feel Better Programme has significantly grown, (demonstrating the need for our services) and is now available in 25 countries worldwide.
At the beginning of each workshop, patients are given a gift bag filled with 17 different products donated by major companies throughout the Beauty Industry. Three volunteer beauty consultants take everyone through a specially designed 12-step skincare and make-up regime. At the end of two hours of learning, fun and laughter ladies leave feeling relaxed and full of renewed confidence in their appearance. They are then free to enjoy the product gift bag or ‘cosmetic tool kit’ at home.
Many women tell us that their LGFB workshop helped them regain a sense of control and normality at a time when diagnosis and treatment can make everything feel overwhelming.
“I found the Look Good Feel Better workshop very beneficial in terms of boosting my confidence in wearing make-up products I wouldn’t normally try and helping me to discover how to make the best of my appearance. I certainly helped to ‘cut out the cancer label’ and gave me tremendous lift.” Jackie, LGFB Patient Beneficiary.
“Look Good Feel Better currently helps over 11,000 women each year in 65 locations throughout the UK. However, demand for our service is constantly increasing as more people are living with their cancer. We recently set out a plan to reach 50% of newly diagnosed women each year by 2016 (73,000). To achieve this, support from organisations such as First Impressions is vital to our success. We are delighted to have been chosen as their charity partner and grateful for all their support”. Ian Daniels, Fundraising & Operations Manager.
To find out more – please go to the Look Good Feel Better website
I have just been listening to Miranda’s book as I drove around today ‘Is it just me’, and I love her observations – it’s a great read or listen, I highly recommend it!
Whilst listening to Miranda, I didn’t expect to be agreeing with her on her attitude to grooming and style, but having listened to that particular chapter, I wholeheartedly agree with her views. She takes us through her hilarious observations on what ‘Mirandaland’ would be like when she is queen of the world and she has decided that everyone should be issued with a regulation kaftan and a pair of clogs – the clogs could be selected to show off your own personality and she would opt for a polka-dot pair! She concluded at the end of the chapter that she was so over trying to conform, is now happy in her skin and is just going to enjoy life – now this is the piece that I wholeheartedly agree with – not the bit about the kaftans and the clogs!
I totally agree that I would love everyone to be totally happy in their own skin. It is certainly something I work on with my clients. How many times have I heard people say ‘I’ll come to see you when I have lost weight, when I have made it, when I get my next pay-rise’.
How would it be that by being confident with how you look, it actually helped you to achieve success? Let me give you a great example. A client of mine called me one day, she was distressed and down, she had put weight on and couldn’t fasten her jackets. She had her own business which really relied on her being out there networking and growing her contacts. She had got to a stage where she really didn’t want to go out at all because she felt so terrible. She had lost all motivation and couldn’t even begin to start to do anything about it. We immediately went out shopping and bought just a few key pieces that fitted her right at that moment and made her feel good. By the end of the trip she was feeling much more positive and looked amazing. The fact that she felt better actually helped her to find the motivation she needed to get back on track with her weight-loss and as we speak right now, she is several stones lighter, enjoying life and looking the picture of health.
So yes Miranda, I totally agree that we should all be comfortable in our own skin and it’s my mission to help all of my clients to feel that way.
I hope you have had a fabulous weekend
Onward to week 3 of the ultimate blog challenge tomorrow!