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Why We’re So Self Conscious (And What To Do About It)

    I just watched the film “How Do You Measure A Year” by Jay Rosenblatt, which documents the growth of his daughter from age 2 to 18. Each year, on her birthday, he asks a few questions ranging from “How would you describe yourself?” to “How would you define power?” As a mom with a kid heading to college, I knew the fleeting moments of childhood condensed into a 29-minute film would choke me up. However, surprisingly, it wasn’t the growing up and leaving home that affected me the most.

    It was witnessing the exact moment when the seeds of self consciousness were planted in adolescence.

    Being Self Conscious Starts Here

    As a young child, the daughter in the film identified as “fun, funny, joke-ful and loving”, but by the time she was 9 she transformed into an anxious pre-teen, who constantly smoothed her hair while admitting that she’s “afraid of being different, not fitting in and being made fun of.”

    Few girls escape this reckoning!

    My seeds of self consciousness were planted during the time between these photos when I was age 8 and 9.

    This made me think about my clients and the women, in general, who second guess themselves about what they wear. Despite being decades past adolescence, they too are “afraid of being different, not fitting in and being made fun of.” They’re self conscious!

    But here’s the thing, when my clients complete the initial intake form at the beginning of our work together, and answer the question, “When was the last time you loved how you looked?”… not one of them said it was when they were young children.

    Because although the seeds of self-consciousness are planted around age 9, our self-esteem continues to develop. So then why do so many grown women feel self conscious about how they look?

    It’s the cumulative erosion of their self-esteem that manifests itself in negative ways for years to come.

    Being Different

    Do you recall when self doubt kicked in for you? Usually it’s when we start comparing ourselves to other kids and what we see in the media. I remember the girls in 4th grade wearing Jordache jeans, but not just any pair. You HAD to have the kind with the cool arrows on the pockets.

    My jeans were by Gloria Vanderbilt. They had a simple signature, not cool arrows like the other girls. This subtle difference made me feel inferior.

    It’s these feelings of inadequacy that when left unchallenged, accumulate through the years. This is why grown women revert back to their adolescence, and…

    • Throw their clothes on the bed in a fit of frustration that nothing will ever look good on them. 
    • Tug at their shirts feeling uncomfortable in their own skin.
    • Second guess themselves everyday.

    Of course, my clients’ struggles aren’t only because of their thoughts. They aren’t imagining the challenges that come with trying to find well fitting clothes. The reality is that most clothing brands prioritize the young and thin when creating their designs. External factors are still at play.

    Along with inner strength.

    The Crux of Courage

    I just met up with a friend who cited some research that when girls go through adolescence, they lose their bravery and most don’t ever get it back.

    What’s interesting is that many women I know exhibit incredible bravery in their lives. EXCEPT when it comes to choosing what to wear. That’s when their adolescent selves resurface with all the insecurities. And it’s why so many women get stuck playing it safe with their style. They don’t want to be made fun of!

    It usually takes a breaking point for women to reach out to me for styling help. Often this coincides with a major transition in their lives. Sometimes they need to uplevel their wardrobe for their career, and they realize their closet is a complete mismatch to who they are becoming. Other times they’re tired of wasting time and money on the wrong clothes. They know they need to do things differently but have no idea where to start.

    The Enemy Of Being Self Conscious

    Self consciousness feeds on insecurity and self doubt. And while I don’t expect women to ever completely clear these obstacles, there is something they can do to tame the beast. Yes, the external circumstances will continue to exist, so consider this suggestion similar to putting on a raincoat to head out into the rain.

    Rebuild self trust.

    While the work I do with my clients involves the typical stylist remedies like reviewing their body shape to find the most complimentary styles and outfits, the real work doesn’t come in a color palette. (Though they get that too!)

    Through an ongoing process of working closely together, my clients slowly start to not just see what looks good, but they begin to sense what feels right. They connect back to the trust and freedom they felt before the world told them how they should be!

    They regain their self trust.

    My 6th Sense Styling System gives you the tools to create closet competence so you have an innate knowledge of what’s YOU which transforms not just how you shop and get dressed… but how you see yourself and show up in your life. 

    Tap here to learn more about my signature styling system and how I can help you feel amazing about how you look.

    Click here to read how to stop body shaming from ruining your style.

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