The word streamlining has a slimming ring to it, which is timely for a New Year’s Eve post. Just a couple more days of overindulgence and we are ready to streamline.
I believe the subject matter surrounding individuality, wellness, and fashion history as it relates to culture and art – is central to living a vibrant life and reaching one’s potential. Since these are vast topics, the notion of streamlining is brought about by adding a unique and original perspective. Entelechy is assimilation. We can only share what we have learned – and hope it helps contribute to a broader perspective on women’s issues, how we perceive ourselves, and what we hope to change.
Fashion is important as a mobile art form, and in how we show ourselves to the outside world. It is not about the most expensive or range of designer clothes one wears. But it is one of the key components in visual self expression. We will never get enough of draping the human form with textiles and design. Some dresses are as memorable as a lavender sweater paired with a Himalayan scarf!
In some situations, people are completely thrown off by a person’s style of dress. In one true crime show, a police officer in Florida approached the driver of a vehicle to see what the guy was up to. Once he saw the young man who was dressed in a T-shirt and board shorts, he mistakenly assumed he was a typical “surfer dude”. Instead it turned out to be life threatening conjecture. The police officer ended up in a deadly shoot-out with a fugitive on the run for murder in another State.
The 1979 show “Being There” is a story about a simple gardener named Chance who received a trunk full of expensive clothing from the twenties and thirties, which gave people a totally different impression of him. It is a poignantly satirical movie with many layers of meaning.
If you look at any of the fashion conscious celebs and actresses, their style and image is carefully crafted and central to their existence. They have to constantly pay attention to image. Apparently Dolly Parton has never even stepped outside without being made up and dressed to the nines. Cher is another iconic image, more striking than a runway model in a Paris fashion show. She is almost the polar opposite to Dolly Parton in her looks – yet both are equally dramatic and incredibly talented. Stunningly, they suit their looks!
For the average person, fashion and image is less important than it is for models and movie stars, because we don’t think there is a need to craft our image and sell ourselves in such a manner. Yet, tell that to a person who is going on a first date with someone they really want to impress! Fashion is embodied in self expression and lifestyle. It matters sometimes – and other times it doesn’t really matter at all. Regardless, we all have to present ourselves to the world in some capacity, so in my opinion, we might as well appreciate the beauty and have some fun with it.
Whether we are wearing sweat pants and sneakers, or head-to-toe designer, we are making a statement about ourselves that is rapidly judged by other people. I have noticed that even babies in strollers will do a quick visual summary of a person approaching them. In many cases they will glance at your feet first, and then do a quick toe-to head sweep upward – and then look at your face. They learn to check out a person’s shoes early in life!
Years ago I participated in an online University course in women’s studies. I still remember many of the key points the lecturer made. She gave multiple examples of what women said when they were asked to describe themselves. Most of the answers were self-deprecating.
On the other hand, men were inclined to say neutral or positive things about themselves. In fact, none of the men they asked made self-deprecating comments. Finally they were asked, “Okay, tell me what is wrong with you?” One answered, “I’m a little near-sighted” and another said, “I don’t swim the breast stroke very well.” They were not the least bit inclined to say they were too fat or had thunder thighs – regardless of what they looked like!
I don’t discredit men for having a healthier self-image, but I do wonder why there is such an inclination for women to have deep rooted insecurities. Having known and worked with women most of my life, I noticed that even some of the most gorgeous women with near perfect bodies and intelligent minds, might be more dubious about how she is perceived than the average person. In some ways it is probably more difficult for the strikingly beautiful woman with a willowy figure – to navigate the complexities of life, than it is for the average person.
A woman, especially one who is a bit shy and reserved, with too much attention, wastes valuable time and energy trying to deflect it. The accusations many women get of being aloof or snobby, are often unfair assumptions. Others might be jealous and make snide remarks. We should keep in mind that as much as we envy or admire long naturally curly hair – or the near perfect figure, the genetically lavished person has feelings like everyone else.
In my opinion self-esteem is highly overrated. We ought to aim for a healthy cognitive bias. The trouble with all the self-esteem workshops and promotion is that most people really don’t need it. They have enough partiality to get by. Low self-esteem cannot be elevated or reconciled in a two day workshop. Acting lessons would probably help more. For those who don’t like to feel raw and exposed in their insecurities, the cognitive bias is the thing to adopt.
It’s like okay, I am what I am, and can only do so much – therefore I’ll just fake it to the best of my ability. How shallow does that sound? Basically it translates into reinforcing your own abilities, knowing you might make a mistake – but at the same time acknowledging this is my decision, job, obligation, duty, expectation, or opportunity to carry it out. Believing you can do something is half the battle. If you practice something a hundred times and get it right once, it proves that you can get it right again and again, just by learning to duplicate what worked.
When you think about it though, the old adage, “fake it til you make it” is essentially what everyone does. I remember when obstetricians would get called into last minute hair-raising obstetrical emergencies, with no choice but to make an immediate life saving decision. One time I asked one of them, “How can you be so sure making the call, in just a minute or two?” He candidly replied, “I’m not. But you can’t let them know that.” After his admission, when I saw specialists get stressed out and lose it in emergency situations, I would think – he is losing his ability to feign and hold onto his own cognitive bias.
Good or bad – we require such a bias in order to make competent and autonomous decisions. We just need to find a balance between our doubts and our confidence – to keep it in check. Otherwise we might be prone to wallow in doubt or do something overtly stupid.
The next ideation is in making the female comparison to the rather demeaning comment some men get as having “more brawn than brains”. I suppose something like “Bimbo” would be along the same lines.
Since we have entered the era where there is recognition of the theory of multiple intelligences, we cannot be too quick to judge anyone. Although there is no empirical data to support the concept of multiple intelligences, no matter how smart someone is, there will be many deficits in knowledge and experience.
Most people are intelligent in certain areas and less so in others. One of the best examples of this is the aptitude for air traffic control. Some people have the ability to track moving objects at different altitudes and speeds, but for most people it is difficult and stressful. Often a really smart person will have no sense of direction, or he/she might have a tendency to reverse numbers, and must constantly double check them. Those with enhanced social skills and excessive confidence simply come across as smarter, but it could be bogus. In truth, we have the challenge of holding our own – while simultaneously discerning others.
The notion of intellectualizing fashion and beauty appeals to me. The holistic approach to superlative health and wellness facilitates the autonomous integration of the outward appearance with the inner person. This is often described as “being comfortable in one’s own skin”.
Beauty is all around us. Age is irrelevant because the appreciation of beauty and art has no age limits. The fear of losing beauty is unfounded because we don’t have to be beautiful to appreciate beauty. Just as we don’t have to be a concert pianist to love music, or a CFL football quarterback to love sports. If a person sees the beauty in an incredible catch and touch down – they will enjoy it whether they are twenty or eighty years old. The interests we develop, and things we see as beautiful or inspirational stay with us.
Beauty is both objective and highly subjective. If you put twenty women in a row who are healthy and in good shape, and gave men the opportunity to rate their beauty, it would vary widely. If you let those same women mingle and show their personalities – the least beautiful one might suddenly become the most attractive woman in the room.
Mirroring is what we all tend to do, in everything from subtleties in body language to linguistics. The more intuitive, empathetic and capable a person is at mirroring – the more they will apply the law of attraction. Whether is is the tendency to seek out like-minded individuals, or the ability to reflect back what they care about in order to engage them, it seems to be a natural communication phenomena.
Whether you are on the quiet and demure side of life – or an outgoing, vivacious chatterbox, it’s all fine. An easy way to deal with self image is to remember – the more attention you pay to others, the less you have to worry about yourself!
Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2018). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.