If you’re like most women, you don’t feel as if you “look great” at all. You dislike your appearance most of the time, and you never feel beautiful. If you ever walk by a mirror and think, “Oh, I look pretty good today,” you’re shocked. How do I know? Because I’m right there with you. I think and feel all of those things, and most of the women I know do too.
Why do so many women feel so unattractive? Because our culture tells lies about women, over and over again, and we’ve come to believe them. Lies which say that only young, thin women are beautiful. And that one standard of beauty is the universal standard. And that women whose “corrected” images we see in media are real – so why don’t we look like them?
But the truth is that every woman can look great and feel more attractive. Because being attractive means feeling good about the way you look and the things you do. And treating yourself and other people with respect. And understanding that when people interact with you, their perception of your “attractiveness” is based on much more than your physical appearance. They don’t just see you as an image. Instead, they see a composite of the way you look and speak and act.
• Stand up straight. Good posture gives your appearance a tremendous boost. Don’t believe me? Start noticing the way people stand and walk. You’ll be amazed at what a difference good posture makes. So work on yours. Practice standing and walking with your shoulders back and your head up. Find exercises that promote good posture and do them for a few minutes each day. Most of all, train yourself to be aware of your posture and to correct it every time you start to slump.
• Move, act and speak with confidence. Confidence is incredibly attractive. Often, it’s the one thing that really sets people apart and makes them seem attractive to others. Not arrogance, but the knowledge that they contribute something useful and deserve respect. So begin speaking and acting in ways that value your time, ideas and contributions.
This can be difficult for women, but do it anyway. Pick one or two areas to work on and just “fake it till you make it.” For example, if people talk over you in meetings, speak more assertively. Look directly at people who interrupt you and say, “Excuse me, I was talking.” Or, if people expect you to do things you really don’t want to do, begin saying, “No, I can’t do that.” And while you’re working on building your own confidence, be sure to treat others in a way that builds theirs. One of the most attractive things about confident people is that they have no need to put other people down. Instead, they treat others with respect and build them up.
• Make time for the things that are important to you. Many women spend 16-18 hours a day running from one task to another in order to take care of the needs and wants of others. They find themselves doing “stuff” all day long for their employers, spouses, children, friends, and others. Then they collapse into bed and do it all over again the next day. They don’t devote any time to the things that can help a woman feel more attractive – pursuing an interest or dream, taking care of her body, or investing a bit of time and energy in her appearance.
Because, let’s face it, if a woman is too busy to exercise several times a week, eat well, and get a haircut – she’s too busy! If you find yourself in that position, make some changes. Get your family’s schedule under control, start saying “no,” and delegate some tasks to others. Then begin doing something regularly that helps you feel good about yourself.
• Play up your best features. Women tend to focus on the things they don’t like about their appearance. I’m definitely guilty of that – I maintain a list in my mind of everything I don’t like about myself. And while I can name one or two things I do like about my appearance (I have pretty eyes), some women cannot. They feel completely unattractive. But that’s a feeling, not a fact.
Everyone has good features – the trick is to identify them and play them up. So make a list of your best features. Once you’ve identified them, play up one or two of them. Figure out what you like best about you and make then most of it.
• Dress in ways that help you feel attractive. Begin dressing in ways that help you feel good about your appearance. This isn’t about impressing others. Instead, it’s about dressing in ways that make you feel attractive. You want to find the right balance of comfort (but not “my oldest pair of sweat pants” comfort) and confidence.
What you want is clothing, shoes and/or jewelry that makes you stand up a little straighter and think, “Girl, you look good in this!” Get rid of items that don’t send that message, and put the ones that do front and center in your closet. If none of your clothing makes you feel that way, get some that does. You don’t have to spend a lot of money – some of the clothes I enjoy wearing most came from a consignment store.
Don’t accept our culture’s lies about women that leave you feeling unattractive. Instead, begin taking these small steps that will build your confidence and change the way you and others see you.