Does any of this sound familiar?
- Showing up, but only kind of…
- Not getting professional photos taken, and heaven forbid ever doing video
- Not buying new clothes because you have to wait to lose a few pounds
- A voice inside that says “Hide! Don’t let them see who you really are!” and “No one will trust me to know what I’m talking about when I look like I do!”
Here is a little irony for you: I could only think BIG about my business when I embraced my BIG body.
I’ve been a plus-sized gal my whole life. I think it was turning 40–and some terrific therapy–that changed my attitude about myself. I have always loved my mind, but my body? I was at war with it. And when you are at war, you use up a lot of resources and energy fighting battles. After many, many years of seeing my body as separate from my head, I finally decided that I would LOVE my body. That I wouldn’t just accept it…I would love it. Embrace it. And it changed everything.
I took some baby steps and had a friend take my headshots for me. She’s a professional and I told her to try to make it look like I only had two chins. You know what she did? She had me kneel on the floor while she stood on a chair and shot the photos from above. Not only did this position make me laugh, but I only had one chin! I felt amazing. She got it.
That angle made me look…better. I was still me, and I looked radiant.
I figured out what color makes me look pretty and glowing, and it certainly wasn’t black. Teal has become my signature color, and now, every time I do photos or video, I’m in teal. It’s bright and cheery and it compliments my fair skin and brunette hair. Black tends to absorb light and made me look like a blob. I suppose a bit of a smaller blob, but it makes me look pale and drab.
When I was getting my Master’s degree, part of my coursework included doing things via video. At first I was horrified, but then…when I figured out lighting and angles, I found out that I really love doing it! I put the camera above me just a tad, and I always keep the light in front of me and wa-la…I look pretty darn good. Another tip? V-neck shirts make my face look brighter and thinner. You can read more about my struggle with video here: My Inner Melissa McCarthy: I’m Plus Size and I am Going to do a Video!
So here’s the deal…does embracing my body mean that I shouldn’t use strategies and techniques to make me look amazing on camera? Heck no! Don’t you think supermodels use light and angles to get their best shots? Uh, YEAH!
The voices in my head are still there. I don’t know if they will ever go away. But I embraced them, too. They are just trying to keep me safe. But safety is boring and I wasn’t born to be boring. I was born to laugh and dance and sing and teach. I was born to support other women entrepreneurs in their business journeys. And if I play small because I’m big, I can’t help you. I won’t create THE program you need that changes how profitable you are. I won’t come up with an idea or a solution that changes everything.
If I spend my emotional energy worrying about what other people think of me, then I won’t be bold or powerful. And last I checked, my body is strong. My legs can lift hundreds of pounds. My neck and shoulders help me hold my head up high. My power lies in my core strength, and it makes me tingle and feel alive.
The photo above was taken on a whim at a photo shoot. I wanted a photo of me doing the “power pose” where you put your hands on your hips and stand tall. Studies have shown that doing this pose actually changes your brain chemistry and makes you more inclined to take risks, and by increasing our cortisol and testosterone levels, we feel more confident. I didn’t think I’d like this photo of me, but then when I saw it, it mirrored how I feel inside. I feel unstoppable.
As I said above, I didn’t always feel this way. Confidence builds on itself and it takes time; it’s sometimes a two steps forward, one step back proposition. But that one step can lead to another, and another…and momentum breeds momentum. It’s certainly not something I woke up with one day like a pimple (where the hell did THAT come from?) Instead, it’s been a gradual building up of one step at a time into who I am today.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop and look fear in the face.” Eleanor Roosevelt
What about you? Are you playing small because you are big? What are you waiting for? What if this is it? What if you never lost another pound? What might you regret NOT doing? What if you embraced your body instead of fighting it?
I promise you that it is worth it. It isn’t easy, and sometimes I find old habits are hard to break. And there are always people that are “worried about your health.” Well, isn’t that nice? Just because I embrace my big body doesn’t mean that I don’t also need to make good choices and to move and get my heartbeat up. Embracing my body makes it easier to do that. When I hate something, I don’t treat it very nicely. And I’ve found it’s the same with my body. I work with my doctors and keep tabs on my all the indicators and I’m very lucky that I’m still in excellent ranges for everything. Embracing my body means that I work at loving it the best I can and paying attention to these kinds of things. And mental health is just as important as physical health: when I hated my body, I felt sad, angry, and afraid most of the time. Those feelings have a direct impact on physical health as well, because….the mind and body are one, not two.
I look exactly like my great-grandma. My Grandmother used to tell me that with such a look of love and longing for her mother. My Great-Grandmother Clara was a woman that worked in fields and did everything by hand. My Grandmother said she was the strongest woman she knew, and as a farmer’s wife, she was a true entrepreneur; selling eggs and produce in the community and doing sewing repair work to make money during the depression. She has been described to me as super creative and very tenacious. So being like her–physically or otherwise–feels like an amazing gift. I doubt that she ever let her weight stop her from anything, and who am I to let it stop me?
Fear is real, I will give you that. But you get to decide what you do with the fear you have in your heart. You get to decide to say “Yes” when you want to say “No”. Try. If the photos turn out poorly, throw them away and try again. If there are people in your life that make you feel anything but beautiful, create new boundaries and keep them at arm’s length. But I know that it’s really our own selves that are the most unkind. Decide to try. Decide to try again. And again.
The world needs you to show up and to think big. We need you to be your best self, and we need to SEE you. We need you to teach us what you know, and to share your genius with us. But we connect best with faces and with authenticity. Your business will only grow as big as you can dream it to be, so dream big. Embrace your body. Decide that today will be different and you’ll try one little thing that makes you a bit uncomfortable. When you stop giving a shit about what others think about you, your power and your energy will be unstoppable.
And then, so will your business.
Here’s to unleashing your big, beautiful business, you beautiful woman, you.
P.S. If you’d love to talk more about this, join the conversation at the Female Entrepreneurs UnleaSHEd Facebook Group HERE.