“So, is it okay to care about what we wear or to put on make-up,” I was asked at a recent workshop I led on body image and self-acceptance.
I instantly loved that question. But before I can answer that question here, I want to share with you what backs up my answer.
To me, radical self-acceptance is the notion that I am not fundamentally wrong because of my history or physical body.
- It’s the realization that I am fundamentally just fine, because I am neither my history nor my body.
- It’s the choice to recognize my humanity just as I recognize and respect the humanity of others.
- It is the realization that my worth is not conditional.
- It is not based on the smoothness of my skin, the size of my nose, a number on the scale, the length of my hair, the labels on my clothes.
- It’s not common. It’s not expected. And, yet, it can be the greatest difference maker in moving forward gracefully in doing the work we are meant to be doing in this world .
I fundamentally believe that loving ourselves means treating ourselves with respect.
For each of us, that respect has to begin with self-care. While self-care has some absolutes: we all need to embrace fueling our body in a way that allows it to run well, hydration, rest, moving in a way that brings us joy and health, and some personal time for just us, there are also ways that self-care can reflect our personal unique expression.
What might be one person’s unique expression is training for endurance events, another may showcase her creativity through how she puts together an outfit. Neither of these expressions is better or worse; it is simply true for the person embracing that expression.
- Self-acceptance doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy dressing up or making yourself up.
- Self-acceptance and style do not have to be mutually exclusive.
If you want both style and self-acceptance in your life, you can navigate those desires in a way that allows you to stay true to you while enjoying the creative expression style allows you, and, as all good things do, it begins with balance.
Taking a self-accepting approach to style means that you inherently know that your style does not create your worth, it simply is one of many expressions of how you see yourself.
You also inherently know that others’ are not defined by their style either. When you are operating from a self-accepting place, you understand that style does not change your capabilities. You can go without make-up without feeling like you’ve lost yourself. If your dry cleaning isn’t ready and you have to go with a different outfit choice for an important presentation, your ability to deliver what you would’ve in the power suit doesn’t change. Only your clothes do.
The self-accepting fashionista recognizes that all of her accomplishments are propelled from within and that her body, clothes, hair are never more important than her heart, soul, and brain.