Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You, Your Image, and Everyone Else

Have you ever wondered why our society has become so lax?  Why is it perfectly acceptable these days to run around in tracksuits, peppering our language with slang and offensive terminology, basking in our lack of elegance and refinement while offering our middle finger to anyone who doesn’t like our loud-and-proud attitude?  Like or leave it, someone once told me.

I don’t like it, and I just can’t leave it.

For you see, my friend, we’ve got a full-force ripple effect happening.  Our croc-wearing, tattoo-bearing, attempts-at-daring affect others.  Kids today are unfamiliar with the term ‘dressing for the occasion’ because they’ve never witnessed it.  Recent college grads who grew up with a grand sense of entitlement don’t understand why their multi-piercings are keeping them from landing a job.  Women of ‘a certain age’ don’t understand why their bawdiness has yet to attract the perfect partner.  “I mean, it worked for the gals in Sex In The City, why isn’t it working for me?”  they ask.

Like it or not, we are judged by how we communicate, and we communicate through many different avenues each day:  the words we speak, the clothes we wear, our manners, our mannerisms – I could go on.  It’s the Total Package Effect and I speak to so many women about it:  you can look great, but if you don’t speak greatly or act greatly, others will not perceive you as great.

So my question today is this:  what, exactly, are you trying to communicate?  If you desire attracting certain people or situations into your life and you’ve yet to manifest them, you’re image could be holding you back.

I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times.

One’s image plays a significant role in her overall success, both professionally and personally. 

I think a key element that leads to an ‘image downfall’ is the acceptance of the status quo.  No one else dresses up for church, so why should I? Everybody enjoys fast-food on a regular basis, so why shouldn’t I?   Everyone else watches garbage on Television, so why shouldn’t I (side note:  garbage in, garbage out.  I learned that a long time ago, and it’s very true.  Think about it.) 

Because it leads to stasis, and a lifestyle in stasis is a lifestyle in crises.

We should all strive each day not only to look our best, but to speak our best and BE our best.  We’ve got to get over this weird ‘let’s just be comfortable and let it all hang out’ mentality and take ownership of our lives and our image.  We must recognize that our choices affect others – and not necessarily in a good way.

We’ve got to get over our laziness and stop accepting things that simply shouldn’t be acceptable.  If not, I shudder to think of the fruit the upcoming generation will bear.  They’re looking to us and following our lead, so if we want better for them, we must be better ourselves.

Be the change you want to see in the world – Gandhi

What is it you’d like to see?

Beth Newman
Image Consultant, Mentor, Author

ps...I've got a new e-course starting next week.  It's called Your Image and You:  Who Do You Think You Are?  For details go to

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Type of Person Who....

I tend to be a bit wary of people compelled to begin sentences with “I’m the type of person who…”, for it’s been my experience that they’re usually way off the mark when describing themselves.  I also find it a bit strange because they seem to be opening up a dialogue in which they’re the star attraction.  As we all learned in our high school speech classes, communication is a two-way street.  As we learn from self-improvement gurus, it’s better to listen rather than to speak.  So I find it baffling that even though we’ve been taught not ramble on about ourselves, so many of us spend a great amount of time doing it.

And doing it poorly.

Madonna encouraged us years ago to ‘express ourselves,’ and following her lead, we did it.  Madonna is a self-promoting genius; we commoners – not so much.

In an age in which our personal revelations can be, well, revealed, by the click of a button, many people assume that the general public gives a hoot-and-a-half about what sort of person we are.  We’re much too busy talking the talk and not walking the walk. 

I expect the spiritually in-tune woman who starts her day with some sort of uplifting New Age-y thought to remain there, and not tell me through her late night tweets how drunk she is.

I expect the man who proclaims to love and support women to actually love and support women, and not belittle and yell at them in the office.

I expect people who turn their bodies into walking billboards to come from some sort of hard-core place, not the PTA meeting.

It’s attention these folks are after, but what they don’t realize is that they’re getting it for the wrong reasons:  many of us are bemused, really, by your seemingly duplicitous lifestyle.  You say you’re this, but you turn out to be that. 

We know who you are, not what you are, because of your actions.  Maybe you want to be the person you’re describing, but you’re not, darling.

Self-expression is important, don’t get me wrong.  There exists, however, more sophisticated and elegant ways of doing it.  Living what you’re expounding – that’s a start.  Getting to truly know who you really are – always a crowd-pleaser. Experiencing real interactions with real people rather than by electronic means – why not give it a try? Focusing on others rather than yourself – bingo! Reaching out in love and compassion in order to help others – right on!

At the end of the day, we’re remembered for what we did, rather than for what we said.

Beth Newman
Image Consultant, Mentor, Author
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Lasting Legacy

Sadly, I bid a final good-by to an associate of mine the other day. I’d only known her a short while, but I liked her very much. I worried about her. I learned a great deal from her. In the end, however, I was astounded by her.

You see, my associate kept her business just that – her business, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered certain things about her during her memorial service. Things like her philanthropy (award-winning philanthropy, I might add). Things like her adventuresome, beach-loving nature (I had no idea we had the sand and sea in common), her vigilant commitment to style and fashion (she never told me she met Tim Gunn, but lo and behold, there she was, photographed with him following some sort of fashion event).

Discovering these aspects about her made me realize how exceptional she really was. Showered with wondrous opportunities and accolades, she handled all of it gracefully, with dignity, and quietly.

I'm afraid we don’t see too much grace, dignity, and silence these days, do we? In this age of social media, everybody’s a celebrity. Constant status-updaters and tweeters, revealing the minutia of their daily lives, have carried the ‘Look At Me’ mentality into their personal encounters. We’ve a lot of people talking (about nothing, really), and too few listening.

Had my associate talked a little more, we probably would have become great friends, for we shared many of the same interests and possessed similar demeanors. Had she only spoken up, those of us who knew her would have understood just how ill she was in her final months. She never complained, though, and we all hoped and prayed that she’d get better. She didn’t.

 I suppose that’s why I can’t suffer foolishness right now. I prefer my communication with others to be short, sweet, informative, helpful, enlightening and entertaining. I go absolutely mad hearing complaints about mild tummy aches, sinus pressure, and paper cuts. My associate spent the last few weeks of her life incredibly frail and, at age 51, needing the assistance of a walker just to get to the powder room. You’ll get by with that wart on your thumb, trust me.

I don’t mean to come across as uncaring in the previous paragraph, but my associate’s death really made me realize how silly we all can be. We take things for granted, and get too wrapped up in ourselves to do what we’re really here to do: to love one another, and to leave this world better than we found it.

 Following her memorial service, I vowed to do more to make my community a better place. I’ve recommitted myself to keeping apprised on the latest in fashion, education, and writing because that’s how I make my living and resting on my laurels certainly won’t get me any further than I currently am, professionally speaking. I’ve also promised myself to have more fun, remove myself from social-media marathons, and to really go out make the most of each day. I shall love more, listen more, and laugh more.

And I shall never forget this amazing woman, her legacy, and the impact her life story had on me. Thank you,dear heart,and may you rest in peace.