How Body Language and Appearance Reflect On Your Perception of YOU
Happy MONDAY everyone!! So I wanted to start this week off with a bang. This post might be a tadly bit long… but I promise you it will get your week off to a good start. Plus Leslie Knope/Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig ALWAYS make everything better! Share the positivity!
Under the Guise/Cloak of Invisibility
So I have absolutely nothing against people with mousy hair, but this morning, I came across a very meek-looking woman with mousy hair, who clearly did not want to make eye contact. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of people at the firm I’m currently stationed at don’t like to make eye contact with minor pawns in the chess game of life. Oops! Too cheesy? Back on track, you fiend! Hazzah!
Anyways, this woman’s body language and appearance struck me right away. She was slightly hunched over, gaze forced towards the ground to avoid any chance of eye contact, and a walk that lacked both purpose and intensity. It was as if she was cowering as she walked past me: “Don’t look at me! I’m not here.” While she looked like she could be attractive if she put a minimal amount of effort into her appearance, her attitude really made me pity her the most. She looked like she had all but given up on herself. Baggy clothes too big for her frame. Mousy hair with faded highlights and frizz all over the place. And scout’s honor, I normally don’t notice other people’s appearance. I usually only see good in others, but this woman really looked pitiable.
Those Days We Lacked Confidence
Sadly, I’ve been there. While my hair will never be called mousy, I remember being embarrassed of being seen because the very essence of me felt pathetic. I remember wishing I could be invisible.
I didn’t think I was pretty (I was once a chubster in Mindy Kaling’s words and cruel words stuck like glue to my self esteem even when I was just a normal gawky teen).
It also doesn’t help that redheads have invisible features – my eyebrows and eye lashes are pretty much clear, so I looked like a mutant. I didn’t know how to emphasize any of my features because 1) I didn’t know how to use makeup, and 2) I didn’t like anything about myself to even bother emphasizing or covering. I felt awkward, gawky and too pale.
I was also painfully shy and didn’t know how to talk to my peers because I didn’t watch tv or read trashy magazines. It’s hard to talk to people about your life when you spend your time reading literature or memorizing every country and its capital for fun. It’s just not what most people get revved up about. Obviously there were plenty of people who also thought that reading was fun, and who were interested in nerdy things like me, but when you’re new to a big public school, it’s hard to find those people!
Hiding and the Urge To Be Invisible
It comes as no surprise that back in high school I suffered from low self-esteem. I literally hid from the world in a bathroom stall to avoid eating alone in front of people. It got better in college, but when I started out I didn’t want the cool frat/sorority kids to judge me, so I’d hide in class by sitting near the back.
Fortunately for me, being invisible, the one thing I wanted the most, was nearly impossible. I’ve had an interesting life and never know how to avoid standing out in a crowd. For some reason, I can’t seem to avoid attracting attention. In class, professors knew that I did the readings and had an opinion. So I would often get called on me (making me blush, but then get my thoughts out there).
Fake It Til You Make It!
Just being forced to talk, along with getting myself out there and forcing myself to practice public speaking really helped. And a clean slate is really the best way to go about faking it (in a good way). I joined clubs, became a leader because let’s face it quiet nerds have plenty of time to dedicate to fun clubs! Before long, I actually thought I was a leader. And so did other people!
College was definitely the turning point I needed to get away from the people holding me back, and most importantly to see myself in a fresh new light! It really helped to have really supportive friends who thought I was pretty great, and taught me to be unafraid to shine! Let my hair down! Let loose!
So thankfully, I had the confidence to apply to go to law school, and by the time I was getting called on in law school via the Socratic Method, I was ready. Obviously, I was petrified as hell to get called on, and did my readings two or three times before every class just in case I got called on.
From Faking To Making It – And Beyond!
So then, my confidence slowly transferred to my professional life. Today, while I’m clearly an introvert as a person, I’m still a social introvert. I make friends easily, have no trouble talking to bosses and the people who count, and exude confidence in my opinion. Of course, I have my good days, and my bad days. But I dress like it counts, and put enough effort into my appearance to feel as confident on the inside as I look on the outside.
Even something as tiny as heels makes a difference. I’ve noticed I walk taller, and that extra boost gives me some magical power to feel like a superstar. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t look like I’m trying too hard, and I never let my appearance define me. But I have noticed that when I’m proud of how I look, then I act a little bit more secure and happy about my life.
So today, at work, my bosses often ask for my opinion because I know what I pay attention and ask questions about obstacles that my superiors don’t usually foresee. I know that I get treated differently from others because I show that I care about my work product, my reputation and the ultimate goals my firm might have.
Hating, Hating, Hating Attention
Before I found my inner confidence, I hated getting any attention. I would blush. Shake. Break out in hives. Things were not good when someone even looked at me when I was uncomfortable in my own skin. Attention caused me so much anxiety that I spent hours thinking about how terrifying it would be to walk through a hall filled with people who could all see me.
People smell fear, and I certainly remember getting negative attention because I was walking like I wanted to shrink away into the earth. I still remember in high school, when I walked down a certain hall, the same kids would always make fun of the click-clack of my shoes (yeah, I might have worn patent leather dress shoes to school…). I wasn’t really allowed to shop, and the only pair of sneakers I owned were way worse than the dress shoes, so I preferred people think I was snobby or weird, over being poor. But even that small sacrifice caused me a lot of grief.
So What’s Changed?
While I used to cower from attention, today I’ve accepted it as a reality. As an introvert, I still rarely like attention, positive or negative. Don’t get me wrong –I like my friends to listen to me. I like to be heard when I have something to say, but I don’t enjoy being the center of attention.
Like every girl in her twenties, I am constantly barraged by men on the street. Last night’s, “Hey you! Lookin’ fine tonight” by a group of men who appreciated my neon-colored and clashing yoga gear didn’t alarm me as much is would have say ten years ago. Whereas I used to look to the ground and run away, these days I prefer to laugh about it (unless the comment is lewd or obnoxious). I’ve noticed it has nothing to do with looks, it’s all about the way I feel. I was literally wearing a parka and you could barely see my face or hair, and I got so many “Hottie!” or “Can I GetChurNumber?” comments I thought people were mistaking me with a celebrity.
Speaking of celebrities, living in LA also has gotten me into some hilarious situations. I was once chased around a mall by teenagers who were positive I was in that new 90210 show. Don’t worry, I won’t let it get to my head, but I’m just saying things like this happen because I act like I deserve respect, positive attention and love my own company.
Appearance As A Projection of Self
I have noticed that the attention I’m getting these days is a lot more positive (albeit undesired in some cases and definitely unrequested). And I can certainly pinpoint that to a change in confidence. I’m more comfortable in my own skin these days. I constantly have a smile on my face. I walk tall, because I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, who I’ve become and the people in my life.
I’ve also learned how to dress for my body type, and figured out what kind of exercise/eating regime works to keep me energized, healthy and lean. I’m no longer too bothered by my round, trustworthy face (that always reminded me that I was once chubby).
And now, to go full circle, back to the sad-looking woman I came across today… I hope I run into her again and can say something nice to her. You really never know how much a compliment or kind word can help someone. I know when I didn’t like myself, I always felt a small ping of hope when someone complimented me unexpectedly. Especially when they didn’t have to take the effort to be nice, or had nothing to gain.
So here’s your homework for the day, week, or heck, let’s reach for the stars, for your LIFE! Say something nice to that person who looks like they’re about to fall off the face of the earth. Smile kindly to the guy behind you in the checkout lane. Ask someone how their day is! You never know what kind of positive chain reaction you might cause!!
What do you do to improve your self-image, boost your confidence and start looking people in the eye instead of whimpering like a sad stray? Did you guys ever go through a time when you really didn’t like yourself?
Please comment, share your thoughts and let me know what you think. Please help me keep this a positive forum, though. I am so excited for some debate, but let’s respect each other please. I reserve the right to monitor and delete inappropriate posts. Thanks in advance!