New year, new look is often the mantra at this time of year, so we’ve asked image consultant Jane Fardon to begin a new, occasional series advising us how we can look our best every day. This month, she helps a young mum who is struggling to dress her post babies body
Jan* is mum to three young children and, like many mums, she had lost her identity and a sense of who she was. She told me that over the last six years, she felt her body had undergone a dramatic change and now, not only did she not recognise it as hers when she looked in the mirror, but she didn’t like it either!
She was used to dressing her ‘pre babies’ body, but didn’t know what to do with this new one! She felt she looked permanently tired and even if she had a rare day where she felt good about how she looked, she didn’t have the time, energy or know how to do anything about it.
I needed to help Jan move from that place where everything seemed impossible and where looking and feeling stylish seemed out of reach, to the place where she could catch a glimpse of how wonderfully God has made her. So much of the challenge in my work is about changing what goes on in someone’s head – the easy bit is showing them to how to look gorgeous.
I began by sharing three key tools to help Jan change the way she saw herself. These principles address issues that we all grapple with from time to time, so I’d encourage everyone to start practising them.
British women are notoriously bad at taking compliments! If you’re not sure about this, why not test it out? Next time you see someone you know, pay her a compliment! Nine times out of 10 she will say something like, “What, this old thing? Oh, I’ve had it ages” - or other such comments. Whatever happened to “Thank you”?
As a general rule, British women (and often as Christians we can be the worst!) don’t give ourselves permission to be lovely and as a result we are very bad at taking compliments. We feel embarrassed and awkward when someone says we look lovely. A compliment is like a gift you give someone – and you would never dream of not accepting a little gift someone placed in your hands. Rather you would say, “Oh, how lovely; thank you very much”.
We need to think of compliments as the little gift they are and simply learn to say thank you. In doing so, we also value the person who gave it and we can begin to set a new culture of encouragement rather than self-depreciation in our work place or home.
Every time I sit a woman down in front of a mirror I can guarantee that within 30 seconds she will have said something negative about herself. It’s like it bubbles up from inside her, and comes out before she even thought about it. We all know that words are very powerful, and we know that we are very visual beings. So, to say negative things about yourself while you are looking at yourself in a mirror is sending your brain a very strong message, one that doesn’t help you to celebrate the way God made you or help you to believe you have been wonderfully and fearfully created.
So, no negative comments in front of the mirror. Better still, no negative comments at all. In fact, it’s good to practise saying affirming words while you are in front of the mirror. If you find it hard, why not write out some verses about how God sees you and stick them by or on the glass?
Give yourself time
Changing our view of ourselves, or growing in self-esteem, takes time. It is not something that happens overnight. You are on a journey towards seeing yourself as God sees you and some journeys take longer than others.
Spend time with people who are naturally positive about life and have learned to accept themselves as they have been made. You will see that they come in all shapes and sizes. You can spot them quite easily: they won’t be preoccupied with themselves or how they look (although they will often look great), they can take compliments well and will give them freely, and they won’t be threatened by the beautifully groomed young mum who got back into her size 10 jeans two weeks after giving birth! They will rejoice with her.
So, we had begun transforming Jan’s mind and changing how she thinks about herself, but she also needed some practical, easy, principles she could use to help her get dressed each morning and feel fab. Some of my advice was specific to her colouring and body shape, but there were three general principles that I gave her that are applicable to all women regardless of body shape, size, or colouring.
Your new dress code
• Choose three colours Try to wear more than two colours, even if the third is just a splash such as a silver or gold bangle and earrings, a coloured bag or a belt. Two colours generally ends up looking boring, but adding a splash of something else will really lift the outfit. It is an easy rule to apply once you have got the idea.
• Use a little make up When you are short of time in the morning and feeling stressed, it is easy to say “I don’t have time for make-up”. Sure, it takes time to apply full make-up, but there are quick and easy little things you can do that will make a difference to how you feel and look. My ‘speedy mums’ make-up’ suggestion to use a little bit of Shadow Lifting Pen around the eye area, underneath and on the eyelid. It will really help brighten tired eyes and make them look bigger. Then simply apply mascara to your lashes – again this will open up the eye and frame them beautifully. Do it when you nip to the loo! And don’t forget lipstick. Choose a pink nude or a cinnamon/spice nude - nothing really dark or bright as you need full make-up for that. You will be surprised at the difference that a bit of colour on your lips makes – and it makes your eye colour look more intense.
• Accessorise Accessories are great because they make you look ‘finished’ rather than just clothed! And you don’t ‘grow’ out of them if you are pre or post baby – except belts of course. Bags, scarves, bangles, necklaces and shoes are a fun way to spice up an outfit and add style. Also, they are much less threatening to shop for if you are feeling self-conscious about your figure. They don’t have to be expensive, so you can have fun. You could even have a swap session with a group of friends when you are bored with yours. Try to use three accessories in an outfit (that can include jewellery).
The most important thing for this lovely, but rather tired mum to remember is that no matter how she feels, God always looks upon her with loving fatherly pride, and everyday he says to her, personally, “Because you’re worth it”. So with a few tears and some laughter too, our session came to an end. I’m pleased to say that she left with renewed confidence and some simple tools and principles but, most importantly, she had glimpsed again how lovely she was.
Jane Fardon is an image consultant and trainer with over 18 years experience, and founder of Jane Fardon Cosmetics. Contact Jane at: www.janefardon.com or www.truecoloursforlife.com
*not her real name