In 2014, Mayo Clinic released a study that stated, “Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.”Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Click To Tweet
And the journal Evolution and Human Behavior did an analysis that noted, “this study provides limited empirical evidence that more facially attractive people (N = 100) may be physically healthier than unattractive people.” Makes me wonder if the reverse is true – are healthier people more facially attractive?
In both my education and writing career, I use (and respect) good research, yet I wonder how much culture influences our self-perception of our attractiveness.
I am especially wondering this lately, as I recently went on a walk with one of my best friends. I’ve known her for over 30 years, and she has always been considered attractive. I find her to be still attractive, and have assumed she had the same opinion. She exercises regularly and is very disciplined about her health habits. Yet (after a 6-mile hike together), she mentioned being frustrated about her weight and “unattractiveness.” I put it in quotes because I strongly disagree with her, so refuse to give it legitimacy.
According to research, all her exercise and healthy habits should lead to her feeling pretty dang good about herself. Yet that definitely wasn’t the case. If she were in Russia or Greece (or most any other country), she’d be the cultural ideal (think blond hair, blue eyes and Marilyn Monroe curvy). Yet here in the U.S. we still reward women who are size 0 (how can someone be a null and actually exist) or 4. The average U.S. woman is size 12, so quite clearly reality and cultural expectations are not in sync.Do you judge yourself by your smiles or by your weight? Why accept outdated cultural norms? Click To Tweet
This makes me sad. Women, whether your age is 35 or 55, do you judge yourself unfairly, with an emphasis on looks? How often do you judge yourself based on your health? I have several friends with lifelong issues (MS, Hashimoto’s), yet every day they work really hard to have good health. To me, they are attractive because their faces reflect their determination, spirit and feistiness.
Be honest, do you judge yourself by your smiles or by your weight? Why do we accept outdated cultural norms? Why do we compare ourselves to our 25-year-old selves? How can we possibly win against unrealistic opponents such as these?
When I was a grad student in systemic counseling, we learned the expression “Fake it till you make it.” It was advice for our clients, based on cognitive-behavioral theory. I think it’s good advice, and I use it on myself.
Here’s how – My “resting” face is more of a frown than a smile. I don’t have the classic nose, cheeks, eyes or chin that our culture says is beautiful. Yet I don’t want to be 75 and wish I’d appreciated my 50-year-old self. When I was 50 I regretted not appreciating my 25-year-old self, and vowed not to do that to myself anymore. So I tell myself NOW that I’m good-looking. I work on my posture, which is an easy way to look more confident. And if you look more confident, you feel more confident. “Fake it till you make it” in action. I pose for lots of photos and I smile in them all. Then I post the best ones online so other people can comment about how much fun I’m having. My brain hears that and the repetition makes it part of my self-concept that I have a fun life. When someone tells me I look great, I say, “I agree (except on genuinely bad photos, such as a recent close-up of my sweaty nose).”Focus on good posture. If you look more confident, you'll feel more confident. Click To Tweet
If I tell myself I’m attractive, fun and confident, that’s what I’ll exude. And that’s how I’ll be perceived. So this post is dedicated to my truly beautiful friend, and I hope every woman who reads this thinks I’m talking to her. Dear ________, you are attractive, fun, and confident. It will make me very happy if you would do me the honor of agreeing.
ACTION: Now, get out there and kick some ass. And subscribe while you’re at it. You’ll look, feel, and move better for it.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Photo credit for birthday party: Ross Barrett.
FYI, none of the fabulous women in these photos are the friend I mentioned, though they are all definite hotties too.
When we were recently invited for a complimentary color and cut at the Sally Hershberger Salon in Los Angeles, we jumped at the chance to return to our roots (so to speak, because in addition to our hair, our childhood roots are in L.A. This is actually quite a clever word play right here, so feel free to admire it). Since we have a strong desire to keep our red hair for as long as possible, and not go grey into that good night (boomers will get this Dylan Thomas reference), we accepted the invitation (and who wouldn’t). We both like and appreciate our Santa Barbara stylist, whom we totally trust. But a new experience topped with a gift bag of hair products got us into the car and onto the freeway.
The goal – get our color and style more aligned with each other. You can decide if that happened.
Alexandra: Both of us had Jessica Gonzalez as our colorist. She paints color on freehand, without using foils, which I had never heard of. It’s called balayage in case you want to request this technique. So the cotton you see in my hair is to keep the strands separate while she worked. I asked her to make mine a bit more red to make my sister happy. I found out the hard way a few years ago that coloring red hair is a challenge, when a stylist in Santa Barbara made so many mistakes that I had to come back and get all-over color to start over. Looking brassy and fake is not for me. I really just want to keep the color I was born with.
Kymberly: Did any of you experience a change in your hair with your “change,” i.e. menopause? So far I seem to be the only person to have my hair get thicker and curlier post-meno. Everyone else reports coming out on the other side with thinner hair strands and fewer of them to boot. So my main request to my stylist, Marcos the Magnificent was to use his magic wand to de-frizzify me. And to cut off the split ends while creating a style that leaves my hair as long as possible without needing blow drying, and that frames my face without having hair fall in front of my face, accounting for my glasses and that I teach fitness classes every other day in a pony tail. In other words, I might have just become the client from hair hell. But did Marcos flinch? He did not. He produced! Too bad I did not produce an “after” picture that gives my new cut and color justice. Suffice to say that when I entered my step class this morning to teach, several people exclaimed over the fabulosity of my color and cut. And since I plan to never wash my hair again as it looks so nice, you can all decide for yourselves in future posts.
As for Jessica, she recommended a color with a hint of copper for me. Her advice was spot on. No wonder, as we discovered that Jessica first attended beauty school then spent FOUR, yes 4 more years assisting (basically apprenticing) at the Sally Hershberger salon before passing an in-house test to become a color specialist. Nick (Alexandra’s stylist) and Marcos similarly had to undergo years of apprenticeship before graduating to the floor as stylists.
Alexandra: My stylist was Nick Flores. I asked him to keep my basic style, but make me look 39 and HAWT. Vanity and unrealistic requests work well for me. As you can see, Nick rose to the challenge. Not only that, but he has a rescue dog and a loving heart, so I adopted him. He’ll receive all my selfies that have good hair as his inheritance.
Kymberly: Do you value good customer service along with top level color and cut? Then, you would be in happy hair heaven here! Just one example of our good experience: Assistant Aaron, a darling young man who asked what I’d like to drink, toodled off to make me the requested decaf iced coffee with cream and sugar. He showed up with my refreshing beverage, asking whether I’d prefer to have him dissolve my sugar first in warm water rather than have it sit in cold crystal form at the bottom of my glass. Who can’t appreciate that attention to detail?
Both of us were happy. Beyond happy. We were overjoyed at the way we looked. We had heard that the salon was very chic, which can sometimes translate to snobby in L.A., but this was NOT the case. Everyone was as nice as could be. Throw in the customer service and overall atmosphere, plus the organization at the salon, and you’ll understand our smiles.
And if anyone now has trouble telling us apart, here’s a hint – Alexandra has bangs; Kymberly has glasses.
And of course, if you are in LA near Melrose on North La Cienega and wanting to go glam, this is the place for you. Ask for Jessica, Nick and Marcos. Then ask the paparazzi to please step back and give you room!
Now that you look fabulous enough to invite people over, you might want to clean your hardwood floors with ingredients that are hypo-allergenic, and scent- and dye-free. Enter our Bona Hardwood Floor Care giveaway right here if you are in the U.S.
a Rafflecopter giveaway