Negative body image can hold us back in big ways in our careers. I’ve spent the past 4 years working with women entrepreneurs, and it’s amazing how body image issues can arise related to launching and growing a business.
It is not uncommon for women to avoid being photographed or video recorded, avoid making presentations, meeting new people, attending networking or other business development events, because of a negative self-perception. Even more disturbing, there are those who will delay even starting a business until they “lose some weight.”
Here are 7 ways I’ve used with myself and my clients to beat body image issues in business.
1. Identify times when body image issues arise related to your business.
Negative self-talk about the body can be so subtle and so common as to be overlooked. Notice it there are times that you are avoiding a business development task because of a body image issue (eg., avoiding being photographed, skipping an event because you have “nothing to wear,” fear around making a presentation, etc.)
2. Have a plan.
Once you’ve noticed where body image issues arise, work on countering (and hopefully replacing) negative beliefs with positive ones. Address the mental and emotional issues as well as the tangible, physical ones.
3. Treat self-care as part of your business plan.
In the hustle of starting and running a business, it’s easy to neglect taking care of yourself. Proper nutrition, regular exercise, and stress reduction must be part of your regular routine. When you are your business, your health and well-being is the health and well-being of your business.
4. Get help.
If you need support, don’t be afraid to get it. Talk to a trusted friend and ask for some positive reinforcement when needed. You may want to work with a coach or counselor to build positive body image and confidence. If you hate your wardrobe, engage the services of a stylist. Need a diet and exercise makeover? Consult a trainer or nutritionist. Most experts have low cost/no cost materials that can get you started without breaking the bank.
(How does $30 sound for a style consult? Check out Chastity Valentine’s 1-hour virtual style consult http://garnerstyle.blogspot.com/p/style-services.html.)
5. Invest in a quality headshot and visual materials.
Most women I’ve met have a hate/hate relationship with being photographed. We live in a visual age, and most entrepreneurs need at least a headshot for use in business. There’s a reason why famous people look good in magazines (other than extreme-Photoshopping)–they work with great photographers. Invest in a quality headshot with a photographer who understands lighting, angles, and all the things that go into creating a good photograph. When you are excited by how you look in your picture, you’ll be much more likely to share the photo.
6. Invest in a quality wardrobe (that you can wear NOW, not 20 lbs from now)
This is the same philosophy as investing in a headshot–when you feel like you look good (it’s all about the feeling), then you are going to carry yourself in a way that will energize every exchange. Again, this doesn’t have to break the bank, it just has to make you feel like your best, most powerful self.
7. Relax. No one is judging you, and if they are, who cares?
A great smile, enthusiasm, and confidence beat out a “perfect” look every time. All of those flaws we are obsessed with are usually overlooked by others. And if someone is judging you–what’s that to you? Why live your life controlled by the thoughts and perceptions of others?
So, when the group is lining up for a photo, jump in the front row. Don’t freak out when you get tagged in a Facebook picture. I personally think it’s great to have some bad pictures of myself floating around on the Internet. First, they make my good pictures look great, and second, it gives people a chance to tell me how great I look in person.
Of course, there’s always the “10 Years From Now” Game. It works like this: however you look today, whatever bad hair, lumps and rolls, wrinkles, etc. that are bothering you, will seem like nothing 10 years from now. 10 years from now, you’ll look at your worst picture from today and say: Look at how young I looked! So, why wait 10 years to enjoy what you’ve got today?
© 2012 Angela Stalcup