Why image consulting? a friend recently asked. Why do you do this work?
Here’s what I told her: I want to help women show up as their best selves—to project themselves in all their vitality and relevance and intelligence.
But all too often, I see women who seem to think (or who just come out and say it) that being smart and accomplished means letting go of what they see as superficial matters.
And yet, how we appear on the outside—our image—is really far from superficial. It’s our own personal billboard. It’s what tells the world who we are and why we matter—why we matter—why our ideas count.
Turning our backs on this piece of ourselves, whether intentionally or (more often) inadvertently is to deny ourselves a really valuable tool in our personal and professional toolbox.
Why would we do that? Instead, why not use everything we have available to use to show up as our fullest selves?
This means paying attention to how we’re being perceived, doing the hard work of being intentional about that. It means holding a mirror up to ourselves and getting honest with ourselves, even when it’s really hard. Even when it’s not fun (at all!).
What are you sweeping under the rug (instead of letting yourself really show up)?
Even when we may wind up learning things about ourselves that we’d prefer to keep swept under the rug.
Sometimes, indeed, we don’t want to know things about ourselves and how we’re perceived. We fight against knowing them. So many women fight that. They don’t see—they don’t WANT to see—how they’re closing themselves off to amazing possibilities and to positive change, changes that could be incredibly powerful, changes that they might really secretly crave.
Maybe they don’t know that they need to make some changes, that with a few small changes, their entire world could be different.
Or maybe that something different is too overwhelming, too different. Or, maybe, we recognize that we NEED to make changes, but our situation seems overwhelming, and we’re just too mired in our current circumstances.
Or … maybe we know we need to make a change, but we really don’t know how. We don’t know how to get from point A to point B.
We literally have no idea what we could do other than what we’re already doing. We have no idea what it would look like to take that next step.
This is why I often say, when you know you need and want to make a big change in our life, almost anything different is a good thing, because it can set the ball in motion.
These things are really small and seemingly inconsequential—throwing 10 things out, going on a shopping moratorium, or shopping in a place that’s completely different from where we usually shop. That small different thing has the capacity to disrupt a difficult and deeply entrenched status quo. It can shake us out of our routine, and when our routine is no longer serving us, that’s almost always a good thing.
(Ketura Persellin is an image consultant, writer, and public speaker. She lives and works with individual and corporate clients in Washington, DC, and surrounding suburbs. Please contact her for a complimentary get-acquainted session.)