A little while back I wrote a post called Shine Bright, and 3 Reasons Why Women Don’t Let Themselves. Women loved it and felt like someone was finally talking about something that mostly lives as a pink elephant in their lives – this desire to be expressive, fun, and fabulous yet simultaneously pulled to be appropriate, responsible, a “good girl”. I also found out that most men I know had no idea this is something going on for women. When I told them the 3 things women believe that make them think they should tone themselves down…
1 – Being beautiful, expressive, and radiant goes against the role they were given, are still living, and believe to be true about who they are.
2 – Being beautiful will intimidate other women and lead to being judged and isolated.
3 – Being beautiful will attract attention from men that they don’t want because they feel unsafe to deal with it. Or, it will attract male attention that they do want that they feel ashamed by.
…they were shocked! Women really believe this? Yes. I thought women want to be beautiful? They do. Then how can this be what they’re thinking? Because of how they’ve been conditioned.
Anyhow… can we please go back there, to this topic, and talk about it in more depth? I think it’s one of the most important things we can talk about because none of us want to wake up 10, 20, or 40 years from now and feel regret that we didn’t FULLY enjoy LIVING the FANTASTIC women we ARE. Right? Right.
What is being a fabulous woman?
Because of the many mixed messages we’ve all taken about how we’re “supposed” to be, most of us express, but not too much. Give to ourselves, but only so much. Reach out, but only so far. Dress ourselves up, but only to a point.
To me being a fabulous woman (and man) is about living an EXPRESSED life. It’s setting this self-conscious moderation aside and saying YES to shining bright in our lives. It’s full-spectrum living of self-love and self-worth that celebrates your beauty, sexuality, power, awareness, and creativity. It’s Betsey Johnson, Beyonce, Oprah, and Byron Katie… and maybe even a bit of RuPaul:) It’s flowing with your energy as it wants to express itself, accepting your uniqueness, having FUN with it, and letting that shine in all aspects of your life… from deep depths of knowing and presence, uplifting feminine fun of clothing and color, and elevating creative expression.
If we are fabulous women, why are we so influenced by restrictive, self-limiting beliefs (the above 3 and more)?
My guess is that at some point a person in your life (mother/father/sibling/teacher/etc.) felt threatened by your beauty/power/sexuality/expression and directly or indirectly punished you with disapproval and/or abuse until you turned that quality in yourself down. Over time that toned down version of you became a default identity and although constricting, it felt safe (protected you from the disapproval and/or abuse) so you learned to stay there.
Now you’re an adult and unless you’ve done the work to peel back the layers of this pattern and give yourself permission to BE you and express yourself, you’re still living your life, to some degree, through this version of you who feels scared, insecure, and ashamed for wanting more… for wanting to be you.
This is uncomfortable territory so most of us do what we were taught to do to cope and that’s project our inner discomfort outward and say it’s because of what others want or expect of us. But it’s not about other people. It’s about what’s happening inside ourselves. The judge we fear is internal, not external, and it’s an amalgam of all the voices and influences you internalized during socialization. Toning yourself down is an attempt to protect yourself and create safety from this judge. But it never works because it’s in expression, not repression, that we connect to our power, move through the layers of conditioning that have us living as scared little kids, and expand into living as our fabulous, full-spectrum selves.
7 Ways to Cultivate Your Fabulousness
I’ve been fascinated with how transformational having a portrait shoot has been for so many of the women I’ve worked with. At first I didn’t understand how the process was making such an impact but I soon saw that the experience invited women to expand beyond their familiar version of themselves and in doing this, they connected to a more expanded version of themselves that they began bringing into their lives. Fantastic!
So, while I could talk about learning to love yourself, breaking free from seeking other’s approval, being self-reflective, deconstructing your thoughts, meditating, doing yoga, reading books by Eckhart Tolle, Cheri Huber, and Byron Katie, journaling, getting body work, going to counseling, cleaning up your diet, exercising, and the many other things we can each do to heal and empower ourselves…. I’m not going to. You already know these options.
What I propose in addition to these is to do things that expand you beyond your comfort zone of expression so you can broaden who you’re comfortable being. We don’t grow by avoiding our insecurities – but by finding fun ways to move through and beyond them. You might not think major evolution is possible from doing the below things. You might even think some of them are superficial. But I can assure you not only have I seen people experience major breakthroughs in doing these things (myself included!), but we tend to judge/resist the things we would most benefit from.
1. Expressing your fabulous, full-spectrum self is a gift given to you in this life to enjoy, not a burden
Your desires to express yourself aren’t random or meaningless whims. It’s through expressing yourself that you come to know yourself, evolve, and stop dragging the past with you. Your beauty, desires, power, sexuality, awareness, and expression are gifts you’re given in this life to enjoy. When you go with them, you get to have the fun of being you which feels like an elevating, dose of amazing zingy fabulousness! And when you get to the other side of whatever expression limitation you had previously felt, you feel so much freer, confident, and energized. So much more you. But this isn’t available when you keep your foot on the brake of your expression, second-guessing and judging yourself. It happens when you let yourself have fun with the desires for expression that arise in you.
2. Observe how your inner talk works to sabotage your desires for expression and take action anyhow
Years ago after letting my red hair grow all the way out I got a whim to dye my hair blonde again. I came up with a million reasons why it was better for me to not dye my hair but after a year of back and forth I finally did it and I felt SO MUCH BETTER. We all do this allllllll the time. We have a desire to express ourselves, to give to ourselves, and just as quickly, we squash them with logic and stories. But it doesn’t work – our desire is still there. My inner controller tells me you’re being too much. Other people’s controllers say who do you think you are? or that’s not me. You have to become aware of what your controller says to you and learn to unhook yourself from it. And the way you unhook yourself is to DO what you feel a desire for anyhow. Expansion happens through experience.
3. Do 1 thing a day that lets your expression soar and may seem like you’re breaking a “rule” or being too much
One photo shoot I did last month was with a woman who is pretty darn expressed. Her base-line is beyond what many people’s out-there self might come up with. But being feminine is an edge for her. So, when we found ourselves at the MAC counter before her shoot and the sales guy put red lipstick on her she was flooded with a huge wave of anxiety and self-hate. But she was hip to the controller’s game and waited it out. And you know what – she loves her pictures and is all about her red lipstick now. (p.s. It’s not the woman shown in this blog).
Imagine if we each did one thing like this a day. Took one risk and broke through an invisible boundary. Our worlds would become so open, so free, so fabulous! The funny thing is, I guarantee she wouldn’t have said “red lipstick will trigger me”. She would’ve said “I like eye liner. I’m not so much into lipstick”. It’s subtle the way we avoid things that could be big breakthroughs for us so we have to take risks because you never know when something simple you’re drawn to could really open things up for you. So that said…
4. Wear More and/or More Fun Makeup
The beauty industry would have us believe that every woman loves and feels comfortable wearing makeup. But, guess what – that completely not true! I’m finding out in my photo shoots that many women are intimidated by makeup because nobody’s shown them how to put it on themselves in a simple way that makes their features pop, which they can turn up for night or wear for every day. Sometimes this is a little intimidation, sometimes it feels like a really big vulnerability around being seen and/or being feminine. If that’s you, or if you want to learn some new tricks, watch tutorials and experiment. It’s fun and can completely change the way you feel about yourself! Lisa Eldridge is awesome and can teach you basics from how to choose and put on concealer to how to do the perfect smokey eye all the way up to divalicious red carpet makeup. If you’re more hands on in your learning style, go to Sephora or the MAC counter and get a makeover, or two!
5. Have *fun* when you get dressed
“Fun clothes” can be like “good china”. If you really like something, don’t save it away for a special occasion that rarely comes, wear it! If everyone else is wearing sweat pants, that’s on them. YOU can have fun. This is not about seeking attention or being vain or excessive. It’s about having fun, being creative, and enjoying LIVING your life. So, when you’re getting dressed, stop thinking “Will this do?” and start thinking “What’s the most fun I could have right now?”
6. Take a risk to artistically express yourself
What avenues of expression have sparked your interest that you’ve not done in awhile and/or talked yourself out of? Another way of thinking about it might be: What did you love doing when you were a kid? Singing, improv, painting, dance, partner dance, writing, blogging? Whatever it is, do it! Sign up for a class. Pull the abandoned paints or instrument off the shelf. Go to a dance. And don’t wait for someone else to want to go with you. Just go – you’ll meet people who are into the same thing once you go out. If you’re someone who’s skilled in a particular area, like partner dance, either do something else that gives you the opportunity to be a beginner again or challenge yourself to take your craft to the next level.
7. Notice which of the first 3 beliefs you’ve internalized and work with yourself to move beyond it
I’ve heard it said that the thing we wish we’d been given as kids is our greatest gift to give now. So if you go back to the version of you who got caught up in one of (or all of) these beliefs, what did she need that she didn’t get? An expressed role model? How to create healthy boundaries? Encouragement? Playfulness? An example of someone who really enjoyed being a woman? How to see other women as allies and sisters? Permission for her desires? Whatever it is, this is your work to give to yourself now.
To our full-spectrum fabulous living!