Self-Care is not a dirty word- Natalie Hewitt
Self-Care means different things to different people and what resonates with me, might not with you... and that's ok.
So let's think about Self-Care and Self-Image and how they can be one and the same.
Self-Image can simply mean - in a world full of Kardashians, be a [insert your name here] Lisa... or a Brooke... or a Sue. But whoever you are, be the very best version of yourself.
For me, Self-Care has always been about providing a safe and sacred space for women in our community to meet, have a chat and learn the importance of honouring themselves. That space is called Innate Style.
Maybe you're asking yourself how Self-Image and Self-Care align and why a Personal Stylist talking is about this?
Well, like it or not... our appearance is our Calling Card. In just a few seconds, our appearance signifies to others how much we love, honour and respect ourselves. It can even denote our income bracket, career and religious affiliations. We really are a judgmental lot but it's not altogether our fault. It comes from our primal beginnings when we had to work out whether someone or something approaching us was a friend or foe. Something we had to work out pretty damn quickly!
Granted, there are some people who are happy to stay oblivious to these societal standards. But hey, more power to them!
In some profession’s appearance may not appear to rank very highly on the hierarchy of needs but let me ask you this:
Would you trust a Dentist who had bad teeth or a Cardiologist who was grossly overweight?
Say your car is running a bit rough. Would you take it to someone who has simply read a DYI manual or perhaps watched a video on YouTube or would you seek someone with actual qualifications and knew what they were doing?
Would you feel safe if someone approached you claiming to be a police officer or firefighter but were sans uniform? Generally speaking, our perception and life-experience tells us that people in uniforms are aligned to a certain service or organisation.
Women in particular perform so many different roles in their life – teacher, practitioner, therapist, healer, artist and creator. We create life so why shouldn’t we recognise our own incredible abilities and take pride in our Self-Care and how we choose to 'Show Up'?
If you're not convinced that your appearance is an expression of Self-Care, think about how excited you feel when you’re going out for the night with your friends or partner.
Frocking up is a Self-Care ritual as you fuss over what you're wearing, pay extra attention to your hair or fork out for a blow-dry, pop on a full face of make-up and spray on that perfume you save for those special occasions.
When you spot your friends, you genuinely gush and compliment each other on how great everyone looks. The stage is set for a great night. And in most cases, a good night is assured because you’re choosing to spend it with like-minded people you care about. You're also feeling rather glamorous after putting in that extra effort to look good.
So why do we squirm when someone gives us a compliment or believe that it's vain to care about how we look?
Ask yourself these questions:
Do you feel comfortable receiving a compliment from someone other than a family member or close friend?
Or do you squirm and downplay it by saying something like 'oh, this old thing'?
Why is it that we devalue ourselves?
Dressing up is not crime, and it doesn't spell vanity either.
Think about this way instead...
We dress up to celebrate life - christenings, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, weddings.
We dress up to signify that we belong - to a school or organisation, to a team, a group or a workplace.
We dress up to acknowledge our culture and heritage.
We dress up in order to stand out - to be unique and individual.
We also dress up when we say farewell to someone as a sign of love and respect.
So, can't we learn to love ourselves enough to admit it feels good to look good?
As a woman in business, I've never underestimated the power and effect of wearing a red lip or a power suit.
Self-Disclosure: Dressing up has been a big part of my own journey and recovery. Through many years of struggling with my weight, poor mental health and lack of self-esteem, enduring the heartbreak of abuse, trauma and unbearable loss, whether attending a wedding, party or anything, I’ve always dug deep or put simply followed this motto: Make Up, Dress Up, Show Up.
When we lost our son, Jacob, to depression in 2013 I asked his grief-stricken friends to wear colour to his funeral. Jake was such a colourful, larger-than-life character who could light up any room he entered. The absence of colour at his farewell just didn't feel right to me.
That's when I realised that, for me, the pattern of dressing up was forming an important part of my therapy.
It has never been about me hiding behind a façade or mask, quite the opposite, as I feel like I'm wearing a suit of armour and personal protection for whatever life continues to throw at me.
I hope you've been inspired to think about your own appearance, how it makes you feel and how you choose to show up.
I'll finish as I started by saying Self-Care is not a dirty word. If you don't think you're worth investing in - who will?
I'd love to hear your thoughts or experiences on this.