When I quit my corporate career in architecture back in 2012, I immediately disowned the ‘power dressing’ culture where female sexuality was often used as a tool to win clients in a male-dominated industry.
In launching myself into the world of health and wellness I flung myself fully to the other end of the spectrum and embraced my inner hippie- barefeet and barefaced. Spending most of my time in gym kit and sports bras (or no bra at all!)
Truth be told I saw my willingness to disown make-up and accessories as a form of personal empowerment, and if I am super honest (this part is really hard to admit) I judged the women around me who I perceived still felt the need to ‘wear a mask’.
Yet, there was something that was still simmering hot beneath the surface as I felt triggered when in the company of beautifully put together women. I didn’t know how to address those feelings so for years I pushed them away and for the most part avoided getting to know those women, so that I didn’t have to address the awkward conflicting growing resistance in myself.
In recent weeks the inner conflict reached tipping point...
A growing awareness that how I am evolving and growing internally is no longer in alignment with how I look externally. In fact, there is now such a significant disparity, it can no longer be ignored.
I realised, that if I am indeed passionate about how we show up in life as the most honest, authentic, bold and empowered versions of ourselves then I needed to walk my talk and stop minimising myself, stop blending in, stop playing small on ALL levels- this includes my appearance! The unspoken void and the missing piece of the puzzle that was holding me back.
I realised I judged and resented the beautiful women around me because I didn’t know how to look beautiful myself (I know we all have a natural beauty but that's not a what I mean here). I didn’t know how to embrace my feminine essence as I’ve always been more naturally comfortable with my more masculine traits, I don’t know how to style my hair, what colours and types of clothes best suit me, what jewellery and make-up could accentuate my appearance... and I wanted the choice!
Choice switches us from playing the victim to taking ownership. It's a powerful reframe.
So I took a deep breath and booked a colour consultation for my birthday next month, I also booked a session with a hairdresser to teach me how to braid my hair, and with the encouragement of a friend in that moment earlier this week I took one more small but significant step in this direction… I bought a bright red lipstick.
Red is my favourite colour. It boldly embodies fun, passion and purpose.
I’ve never felt confident with make-up. Even when at university I felt like I looked like a drag queen when I attempted to apply it. I was envious of my housemates who knew what they were doing and so many times I would put it on and then wipe it all off again before even leaving the house. Feeling frustrated and defeated. Relying instead on my slim gym-fit physique to carry me along and convincing myself that was enough
This time in the privacy of my room I applied the red lipstick. Immediately I could feel the discomfort surge within me. I was pushing the very limits of my comfort zone and it took all my effort not to grab a tissue and wipe it off.
I looked at my reflection, sitting alone in front of the mirror, for a good few minutes until the discomfort softened and my curiousity grew. I smiled and noticed how white my teeth looked against the red of my lips, I noticed how the red of my hair was accentuated, I noticed how I didn’t need any other makeup with such a bold statement feature, though I did also try a little mascara.
I posed for a quick selfie and tentatively sent it to my friend. I kept the lipstick on for the rest of the evening, doing a double take every time I caught a glance of my reflection.
Today I found myself wondering if I’d have the confidence to wear it in public, if it could actually become my new normal.