Self Perception. The Ugly Truth Inside a Dressing Room.
By Zeyeh Life and Business Design
As I am growing my business I picked up a little side hustle in women fashion apparel. I feel this helps encompass my desire to help women change their life and help them become more confident in their dreams. What I didn't know was how revealing and vulnerable clothes shopping is and what I have learned about self perception.
We all do this to ourselves as I have come to find out. The ugly things we tell ourselves about ourselves ESPECIALLY when it comes to clothes shopping. The experience where we have to undress ourselves from our comfort and try new things that will bring attention the things or areas we thought we were hiding.
Let's pull back the curtain on what goes on inside the dressing room.
A gorgeous, tall, slender women walks into our store. Perfect flowing hair, nice skin. Tall slender legs. She looks straight off the run way and say's she is looking for a new business outfit for a job interview she has coming up. Perfect! I can help her as I am all about helping women grow more professionally in their life, right now I am just doing it through clothes. I am thinking " she will be easy to dress. She is a spiting image of the models all around the store and I will be able to find what she needs quickly."
I jump right into introducing myself and start pulling her professional outfits. I start rummaging through the clothes and ask her " is your pant size maybe a 2 or a 4?"
Her eyes get big, she throws her long flowing hair back with one hand and laughs " I wish! I am a size 4 or a sometimes even a 6!" She emphasizes and whispers the sometimes shamefully to me. Almost that if someone hears her say she is a size 6 they will gasp in horror, lay their hand tight against their chest and leave the store with in disgust. While me, in my 14-16 sometimes 18 size (dependent on the store...am I right?) starts thinking, " if she is ashamed to be a size 6...how must I look to her and why is she trusting me to dress her?"
Either way, I start pulling outfits that are pristine. Guaranteed to close the deal simply because the confidence she will exude in her apparel. I am thinking...she wont even have to open her mouth and speak. This outfit will make her look like a million dollars.
I get her into a dressing room and hear the ruffling of clothes. Within minutes she starts to say " oh no...". I walk back to her dressing room and ask her how everything is fitting. She flings back the curtain and is standing like a glowing angel in the most fitted pencil skirt and blouse. She looks incredible. Like a woman who not only runs a 8 figure business but looks like a #ladyboss while doing it!...
She comes out of the dressing room like a model, looking at herself in our tall standing mirror.
I see a million dollars...she sees something else.
I have seen this play out about 99% of the time I have someone come out of a dressing room. The other 1% do this secretly inside the enclosure of the safety of the dressing room. They look at themselves in the mirror and start doing the...what I like to call..."The Cinderella Dress Self Respect Destroyer." Much like Cinderellas evil step sisters, that start pulling apart her beautiful dress out of jealousy, comparison and envy; these women start inviting these ugly step sisters into the dressing room with them and let them start pulling apart every ounce of self dignity, confidence and self worth she has.
Back to my model lady, she steps out of the dressing room and much expected, the step sisters show up. She grabs at her "tummy" and shakes the tight skin in the skirt while turning sideways in the mirror, " I don't like all this showing!" she says, grasping onto the invisible giant stomach she sees. " I also don't love my arms" she jokes and starts flapping her arms out and letting the slightly loose skin jiggle back and forth. " do you think I should go with pants? Because look at how horrendous my legs look. They are so pale and I hate my knees,I really don't want my knees showing and I don't have like any boobs... so I can never find a top that fits. I wish they were bigger! Maybe then I could find tops!"
This is not where my salesmanship comes in. This is where my humanity and relate-ability as a women trying on clothes comes in. We ALL do this with ourselves. And one truth, I can tell you being in this industry is, no matter how fit, no matter how un fit. No matter how beautiful, slender, curvy, busty or not busty we are. We ALL ( as women and I truly believe men do this too) see ourselves not as we truly are. We are cruel and mean to our self. We tell ourselves how ugly we are. How out of shape we are. How incomplete we are. We let those ugly step sisters in our dressing room and they just walk around with us all day long.
I look at her in the mirror, thinking to myself " this lady is crazy! Look at how amazing she looks! Tummy...??? What tummy? Her arms are toned and fact here... no matter how toned your arms get, you will ALWAYS have a little jiggle bit of skin there because if we didn't our arms wouldn't be able to bend and we would walk around like stick people. Her legs are fair skinned, toned and without a blemish. I look at her and see perfection. I see envy in myself. But how can I now convince her what I see? This is my "job" as a sales women in this industry. Get her to buy the clothes.
Here's the thing about me. I don't give damn about selling anything. I couldn't care less if I make a sale or not. What I care about to the center of my being, that I have decided to direct my life towards...and built my business venture around is enhancing someones life.
So I look at her, standing in the mirror with her ugly step sisters and I see her painful looks at her body. And I say to her "if you don't feel confident in this, this wont work for you...but I can tell you, as someone who has never met you before, seen you before and can't compare you to a previous version of yourself. You look amazing." She smiles, so I continue "your legs are without a blemish, and they look great in this skirt....your "tummy" you are referring to is not visible to me. I think the skirt is giving you shape, it's offering you structure where you need it and coming away from your body where you don't. And GIIIRRRLLL your arms are toned ( I use my facts here) if you had no skin there, you would walk around like a stick person. My 7 year old has jiggle in her arms..." Now I have her laughing, which is a good sign that the ugly step sisters are no longer invited to our conversation. She looks at herself in the mirror again and starts to turn side to side..." the skirt is super cute though...right?" I smile at her, and I know NOW we are on to something great.
Sometimes, what someone needs, is another person telling them the truth. And the truth is your not going to see your true self when you let the ugly step sisters in. You need that fairy godmother to show up and comfort you. Tell you, no matter the "size" you are in you are lovely. A fresh pair of eyes that wont quickly jump to the things you hate ( I say that word with sadness) about yourself. Yes, there will be things about yourself, externally, that your not always going to love. Stop blaming yourself and your body and start putting the blame on the clothes. If they don't fit it's because it's not the right size or shape for you. The end. Not because your ugly, fat or have no boobs. It's a issue with the cloth. It cannot contain all your wonderfulness. Grab the perfect size and shape, that is you right now. Leave the ugly step sisters at the barn and go enjoy the ball.
How you perceive yourself is contouring your reflection. Stop ripping your self-esteem apart and start finding ways to help build it up. Start by looking at yourself in a mirror and train your brain to start reflecting on what you like most about yourself. It is going to be hard and new territory to chart, but you will build a map to a better you. A more confident you. And soon you will see the truth.