looking-in-the-mirror

Spend MORE time in the mirror

#beautyfilledyear

“I just avoided that problem until it solved its self.” No one, Ever.

This post was originally titled “Spend less time in the mirror”. It was supposed to be a post about how spending less time fussing in the mirror can make you happier and liberate you from all of your self-imposed standards and negative self-talk. It was shaping up to be a great post full of wisdom and ideas. Then I met Jane.* Jane is a middle aged woman of average height, average build and average beauty. She has a great smile, a hearty laugh and she draws you in with her caring tone and empathic eyes. She has raised two children, loved her husband and cared for her aging parents. She has pursued dreams and known heart ache. However, all of these are not the reason that she stands out to me.

As a hairdresser I have learned to have full conversations without eye contact. I have connected with people through the 4foot by 3foot mirror on my ever cluttered station. I am used to looking at every client, every co-worker and every guest in the salon through that mirror. I have a front seat to how people interact with their reflections. I have seen it all, from duck faces to side glances, to remarks about suddenly visible chin hairs. I considered all of the above normal behaviour until Jane. Jane did something I have never seen before. Jane could not look at herself. She did not interact with her reflection at all. Every time she wanted to say something she turned her head to make eye contact with me. When I politely asked her to stay still she simply closed her eyes and continued talking.

She could not and would not look at herself. Even when I passed her a small mirror to admire her new ‘do, she couldn’t glance for more than a few seconds. This broke my heart. She wasn’t comfortable to take in how her new highlights framed her rosy cheeks or how the new length of her hair slimmed her out instead of weighing her down. She couldn’t secretly celebrate that her grey hairs were made blonde again and she couldn’t step back and take in the beauty of the possibility of her new style and new found confidence.

When I was a camp counsellor, during teen girl week every year without fail someone would think that an appropriate stand against negative self-esteem was to run around and cover all the mirrors. I believe they thought it was a lesson in beauty from the inside and I believe that they had the best intentions. However, avoiding a problem is not going to solve anything, and as I much as I believe that beauty comes from within, there is a deeply physical component to it too. Giving up your mirror and avoiding your reflection is not going to teach you to love yourself more. I think, in fact, that it may teach you to love yourself less. What will teach you to love yourself more is the quality of time that you spend interacting with your reflection.

I heard a speaker years ago talk about how many people have no idea what they look like naked. There are herds of people who are afraid to face their reflections out of fear, disgust and self-loathing. I think that Jane was one of those people. Instead of embracing her reflection, no matter how imperfect it might have been, she avoided it at all costs. Are you like Jane?

Have you forgotten what you look like, actually look like? When you see yourself do you marvel at your strength, stature, and beauty? Or do you succumb to fear and listen to the voices that tell you that you are not worthy to be gazed upon? This week spend more time in front of the mirror. Not in a way that beats you down but lifts you up. Marvel at your eye colour, the shape of your nose and the lines of your jaw. Step back and enjoy the curves of your waist and your hips, the strength in your thighs and the contours of your calves. Be thankful that your body works, often without your command. Embrace it. Think back to the first time you remember being told that your body was not good enough and obliterate that memory. Don’t let someone else’s (uninformed) opinions destroy your chance for a peaceful relationship with your body.

You were made to enjoy being in your skin. Your body is not a curse, it is a bountiful blessing.

*Jane’s name is changed to protect her identity.

Buy Clothes that fit

#beautyfilledyear

So, now that you have a bra that fits, it is time to find some clothes that fit.

The video above speaks to the heart of every woman’s shopping frustration, you don’t have to look farther than your own closet to know that not every garment is created equal. However, as real as the struggle is it is important to make sure that your clothes fit, not just so that you look good but so that you also feel good. It is important to feel good when you are bursting out of your outfit or when you are swimming in it.

Years ago an employer took me shopping, I found a beautiful shirt that made me feel amazing. I looked myself in the eyes and vowed to only buy clothes that made me feel that good for the rest of my life. I have gone through periods of honouring that vow to myself and periods of not caring what I look like. Recently, I took on the challenge of a capsule wardrobe. I narrowed down my closet to just 37 items (not including unmentionables, gym clothes, or pjs), that only left room for what I loved and for what truly fit. There are no “aspirational sizes” in my closet, no pieces to remind me of my heaviest weight, there are simply clothes that fit and that is an incredible feeling.

When you have clothes that fit you spend less time beating yourself up every morning because you don’t look the part and spend more time being productive about the things in your life that matter to you. Having clothes that fit force you to live in better communion with your body because you don’t possess any excess wardrobe pieces to hide behind. It truly is liberating.

I encourage you to invite an honest friend or a sister over and go through your closet. Sell that which is in good condition and take your proceeds to the store, try on multiple sizes and without looking at the number on the tag at the back of the jeans, skirt, dress or shirt, buy them.

I would venture to say that many of us give up looking our best because we don’t want to buy the clothes that actually fit. We are ashamed about that little number on the tag that hangs on the waistline of the jeans we want. Well, here is what I have to say about that: You cannot define yourself by that number in a tiny font. That number can’t hold a candle to your laugh, your spirit, your kindness and your tenacity. I don’t know a single person who goes around inspecting that number, no one actually cares. If it bothers you, I hope that you will healthfully do something about it. There is no crime in wanting to change, no crime in wanting to be better than you are. Do it, become that change. But, invest in yourself right now, today, despite what makes you uncomfortable. You are worth it right now and if you don’t invest in yourself now you won’t have a clue as to how to do it when you reach your goals, hopes and dreams.

BraWithCups

Get fitted for a bra

Dear ladies,

Please all huddle in, we are going to have a heart to heart. This #beautyfilledyear challenge is going to revolutionize your life! I’m talking, of course, about the one article of clothing we all have in common, our bras. Our bras are the hardest working piece of clothing we have, and they should be, because they protect some very delicate parts of our bodies. However, most of us don’t know how to properly shop and purchase the right bra for our needs. This is something we need to be talking about and education each other on! Our (ahem) ladies need to be kept happy, perky and at the right altitude.

My friend Carla over at La Bella Coppia has spent years designing, sewing, researching and fitting bras and lingerie. She has some great advice for how to shop and what your bras should fit like. With her permission I have taken her advice and passed it on to you. I have also thrown in some of my own advice in hopes that you will treat your ladies like they deserve. You will be amazed what a proper fitting bra will do.

Step one: Go for a fitting. Yes. You take your car to a mechanic, take your ladies to a bra fitter.

Step two: Buy a good sensible, everyday bra. Treat your underwear drawer as an art gallery, slowly curate a collection of bras and lingerie that you adore and can’t wait to put on. You don’y need to buy 10 bras at once (although, if you have the money go for it!!) Keep an eye on sales or promotions and add bras as you can afford them. You should have anywhere between 4 and 7 bras in your rotation.

Step three: Throw out your old bras. The ones that have sweat stains, broken elastics and just plain don’t fit need to be filed under G. Because they are garbage.

Step four: STOP PUTTING THEM IN THE WASHING MACHINE. Wash your bras by hand to extend their life and keep them happy.

Please stop by La Bella Coppia for more advice and information about bras and how to shop for them and care for them.

woman-morning-bathrobe-bathroom

Buy Professional Hot Tools

#beautyfilledyear

Last week you saw a stylist! Good for you! They probably gave you a wonderful blowdry and made your hair feel fantastic. Now, I want you to go to your bathroom and unearth all the hot tools you have chilling out under your sink. I know you have some. They are there, trust me. There is a flat iron that you have had since grade 10, probably a curling iron (or 2, no shame folks, no shame) and a blowdryer, you might even have some hot rollers kicking around. Honestly ask yourself just how well they work. For real. I have a rule, if you aren’t sure whether you should get rid of something or not, get rid of it. Look at yourself in the mirror, gaze into your beautiful, big eyes and repeat after me. “You are no longer 13, you are a grown a** woman. You need better hair tools that the $30 ones you can buy at target.” Say it again.

Here’s what I want you to do. Decide what kind of hot tools you need. If you plan on using any kind of styling tool you will need a blow dryer. That is obvious. Then decide if you want to purchase a flat iron (these are great for versatility) or a curling iron. Then, go back to your hair dresser, you know the place and you know her name because you have her business card (You did get her card right? If not grab one while you are there, and if you didn’t already, book your next cut and blowdry 6-8 weeks from now, you will thank me in two months) and ask them to point you in the direction of a good blow dryer. If they don’t have any, ask for some brand suggestions and search on Amazon. DO NOT, DO NOT go to Wal-mart, Target or Sally beauty. Their tools are for 13 year olds and we already established that you are not one.

A good hot tool will cost you money (some blowdryers cost $300) but you don’t have to break the bank. Find a good price that fits into your budget but be prepared to spend more than you think you should. You should spend this money because professional hot tools are gentler on your hair, the ceramics and metals that they are made out of have more even heat and smoother surfaces allowing you to flat iron your hair (or curl it) by only doing the process once (leading to less breakage and less over all damage), instead of three or four times. They also heat up faster, which helps in getting you out the door and insuring even and accurate results. Their cords are waaaaaay longer, which gives you the freedom to stand a little farther away from the wall so that you can actually see what you are doing in a mirror. They also last way longer. 8 years ago I bought a professional iron from a salon and I have dropped it, thrown it in suitcases and taken it to Africa, the UK and through the Panama Canal and it is still going! It works just as well now as it did when I brought it home.

So, head back to salon and see what they have for hot tools. And while you are there pick up some HEAT PROTECTANT. You are going to need it.

If your salon is less than helpful here are some of my favourite brands:

Heat Protectant: Anything from the Bumble and Bumble Primer family.

Ergo (this brand is expensive!)

Babyliss

GHD

Paul Mitchell

Avanti

(I’m not a fan of the brand Hot Tools, they are just expensive toys. Put that brand back and don’t let the small sticker price fool you. You get what you pay for.)

 

I hope this helps! Let me know what you bought!