October 15, 2012

Cover Yourself

(from the October edition of The Family Magazine)

I have been giving a lot of thought recently to the reason behind things.  For example, why would someone complain about EVERYTHING on Facebook?  Or, why would someone yell at a cashier at Target for seemingly no reason at all? 

I will admit, there are days when my patience has worn thin from some incident in the morning with my daughter that will filter to an interaction with someone at the grocery store or in traffic.  

This got me to thinking about the ladies who attend my StyleU workshops. Over the past several months, I’ve had the pleasure to offer this workshop across the Midwest. I’ve met some ladies who I am sure have more style than I do, yet they attend my workshops. Why?  

Why do we dress the way we do?  Is it a costume?  A way to cover something up or distract attention? Do we want to be known as the one that always wears red lipstick?  Why? Or are we the ones who purposely don’t wear anything memorable in the hopes that we can kind of fade away and not be noticed?  Why?

I met a woman recently who shared the following story. I would like to share it with you and ask you to consider what are you doing to cover yourself?

For years I dressed to impressed.  You would never see me outside of my bedroom without full makeup, hair done and 3” heels. Never. Even on family vacations when ‘hiking’ was on the agenda, I would don my most precious jewels and do my best to not sweat off my lipstick and face powder.
It was my “thing”. I felt like that is what I became known for. I was the lady who was always ‘done’. Dressed to a ‘T’. It became how I defined myself. I loved the compliments I would get at luncheons on my shoes, my handbag or my outfits. I would get into lengthy conversations with people about where I shopped, how I pulled together various outfits. The conversations at the time seemed very meaningful and I referred to those I had these interactions with as my friends. But in truth, they knew nothing about me. They didn’t know where I went to school, the names of my children or really what I did for a living. All they knew was that I wore Chanel lipstick and had a great handbag I got at a thrift shop in Chicago.
Through a series of life detours, I was forced to change. The change in my life led me to be in a situation where I could no longer afford to shop. I could no longer afford to buy the best makeup, have my hair and nails done monthly or pay for the best skin care regimen. My new “normal” wasn’t comfortable at all to me. There were days when I would literally sit in my apartment and sob because I had to go to a business meeting wearing something that didn’t fit properly with hair that was about 4 weeks past needing to be “done”.
This annoyed me.  Why was I so hooked up on those things that I thought defined me? Was I really a red Chanel lipstick? A pair of pearls and 3” heels? And if THAT was me, who was I?  What did that mean?
I soon realized that in the photos taken of me in this new phase of life, I looked different, better. I was receiving compliments; complete strangers would stop me on the street and tell me how beautiful I was.  This was remarkable to me given it would be on days when I was wearing no makeup and my hair was in a ponytail.
How strange. People complimenting me on ME and not my things.
Could it be that for so many years I was hiding behind the clothes, makeup and accessories?  Trying to cover up and mask some kind of ugly truth I didn’t want anyone to see? Yes, that is exactly what I did. I was horribly unhappy for many years. Very sick, an illness no one knew about. I was covering the truth about myself with all the clothes, jewelry, shoes, handbags, makeup.  Looking back on it, I probably looked ridiculous. More like a Christmas tree than a business woman.
Although I was forced to rid myself of those ‘things’, I can say (now that I am on the other side of it), it was the best forced life-change that has ever happened to me. Now people see me. The real me.  Yes, I still love to get dressed up and appreciate great makeup. But people see me through all the decoration. They don’t get hung up on all my stuff and forget there is a women behind it all.

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