While I don’t really care for pink or princesses, I consider myself to be pretty girlie. I like to get my hair done and style it daily. I try to keep up on nails and makeup. I love clothes that are sexy and classy (at the same time). I work out as much for the inner benefits as the outer benefits.
I’m still relatively young for a therapist. In the 1960’s I would have been considered quite thin (now probably in the “fit and curvy” category). Along my journey to being a therapist, I have received frequent skepticism/judgement about my appearance whether it be age, weight, or style. I even got the question in my interview for graduate school about how I would be able to counsel people on health an wellness when I looked the way that I did, implying that I was too… young/fit/trendy… to be relatable. This question struck me hard because there are many brilliant therapists who have not been diagnosed with schizophrenia, or experienced substance abuse. I can still counsel parents without actually being a parent, just as I can counsel someone with gender identity concerns while being completely fulfilled as a woman. My response reflected on the previous statements as well as identifying my internal battles with my own image and the progress that I have made in taking care of myself. Nonetheless, the question sent a message to me that I needed to look a little more, hmmm how do I put this… less put together… in order for anyone to take me seriously.
So that’s what I have done. At first it just started with wearing my glasses always. They make me look smarter, right? OK, then I strayed from my love affair with heals. I stepped down to a wedge, then a flat, and then the real low two years ago… some unattractive orthopedic model (and I am not talking about my uber cute Danskos). Then somewhere in there my wardrobe just melded into more “comfortable” apparel. And while I truly love a scarf, I wore them almost religiously to hide a bit. I also attribute a good portion of my 10lb weight increase to the gentle innuendo to look less attractive, because I stopped taking as good of care of myself. WTF!! Why would anyone want to go to a counselor that doesn’t take care of his/herself? Why is lack of self-care and self-worth acceptable for so many therapists? And why did I succumb to this way of thinking when it was my aspirations towards personal self-care that motivated me to be a therapist in the first place?
I have only realized the slow-progressing but drastic change in the last 6 months. I remember when it started. I remember there was some consciousness and logistics to it. I do work with people in community mental health and it isn’t appropriate to dress to the nines all the time. I am no longer a personal trainer; I sit for a living so obviously won’t be burning the same amount of calories. And, well, my eyes are declining with age, so I do benefit from daily wear of my glasses. However, I started to disconnect from me. I forgot what I used to tell everyone- When you look good, you feel good.
Now that I have this awareness, I am moving back into myself. I have found new ways to challenge myself physically (recently got sucked into training for half marathon #2) and have decreased some of the “coping” calories (wine and ice cream) in the evening, thus moving closer to a weight that I accept. I am finding a style that is professional, classy, and comfortable during the work day, athletic and relaxed on the weekends, and dipping back into sexy for nights out.
Last night I wore a LBD (little black dress) and was so excited to get dressed up for the first time in years. I have fresh hair (compliments of the fabulous Natalie Kifer) and it looks great! I splashed on a new sparkly, fuschia nail polish and we headed out to a popular, holiday, charity event, The Jingle Ball.
Have you been neglecting to take care of yourself lately? If so, what area needs a boost? I encourage you to give yourself the gift of the best You this holiday season.