When I was a teenager, I spent endless hours blow drying my hair into Farrah Fawcett flickback curls. Lusting after my best friend’s platform heels that my mother vetoed, and feeling intimidated by fashion shops.
Now as a mum of a teenage daughter I have watched her take her first steps into the fashion world as she finds her own style and techniques that will pave the way for the rest of her life. I’ve watched her paint her face in a garish, clumsy first attempt and now watch her as she applies her makeup flawlessly and chooses her clothes in what appears to be a growing understanding of her own choices. We both know it’s a learning curve, and an ever evolving one and while I know I did this myself, I can’t help but be simply blown away by her mastery – learning all of these things from her own experience. She is learning, and taking enormous pleasure in what suits her, what doesn’t, and she’s putting all of these bits together to create the woman she will become.
There is much to learn by watching but even more so by doing.
Sadly, I have worked with countless successful and beautiful women, many who are very successful in their chosen vocation yet still feel incredibly inadequate regarding the way they look.
Self esteem is a fragile beast that is built on many factors, however a common thread I notice is that these women often missed this vital developmental stage, simply didn’t play and experiment with clothes, make up, shopping and the way they looked either as a teenager or have got stuck and stopped doing it at some stage in their lives.
So what is stopping us playing now? Fear? Cost? Time? Consequences of comments? Getting it wrong? The enormity of stepping out of our comfort zone? Most people would say that they don’t know where to begin. However, like anything in life, if it’s uncomfortable enough, you are likely to seek out help. Be that from an image consultant, an in-store personal shopper, or books / articles online, you will find a way of making these changes that allow you to express yourself authentically and so with more confidence.
It’s ok to admit you are no expert. It’s ok to say that it’s something that is totally lost on you. Not everyone knows what they should be wearing, or how to apply makeup, so ditch the guilt thinking. Don’t be ashamed by what you see as your own failings. Blimey we all have them, you should see me attempt maths! We all have something to learn. Once we accept our own shortcomings, it is far easier to take the bull by the horns and attempt to make those changes.
This is what teenagers are doing all around us. The only difference between them and us, is that life hasn’t yet taught them that it’s too scary to try.