ImageYears ago I heard that to avoid being disappointed that I should not have expectations.  While at a certain level this makes sense, there is a big part of me that screams out in rebellion.  After all, if I don’t have expectations, how will I reach my goals?  How will I know when I’m where I want to be?  How will I know if things are meeting my standards? 

I think many people have come to lower their expectations so as, well, not to expect too much.  This happens out of politeness, it happens out of convenience but mostly, it happens out of fear.  After all, if we have expectations and they aren’t met, all we’re left with is one big disappointment.  So lowering your expectations kinda seems like you can have your cake and eat it too, doesn’t it?  


Yet, when it comes to your image, this isn’t exactly the truth.  Lowering your expectations when it comes to your style and how you want to present yourself may lead to less disappointment, but it can also lead to a low self-worth, holding yourself small and encouraging everyone else around you to hold yourself small as well.

You were born to shine.  Not just twinkle, but SHINE. Out loud.  In the spotlight. 

I know what you’re thinking.  Not me.  I don’t want any attention.  I just want to blend in.  Well, let me tell you that I used to be in your shoes…and that you’re dead wrong.

Say what?  You heard me.  I can’t let you go on like this.  Lowering your expectations.  Chipping away at your self-image and your self-esteem.  Looking like something that, years ago would have made you cringe, but now you just chalk up to being ‘too busy’ to mess with or too tired to care about.

Yeah.  Let’ s see where that gets you.

Think of a beautiful rose.  It bursts into full bloom without holding back.  It gives it everything it’s got and then some, the way it was created to be.  You weren’t created to hide, but to blossom into your full beauty and potential.  I want to help you do just that!

Why am I calling you out?  Because I care.  Because I love you.  And because I have been there and done that and it is SO not where you belong. 

I’ll say it again.  You were born to shine.  You were born to be not mediocre, or okay, or nice.  You were born to be GORGEOUS!  BEAUTIFUL!  FABULOUS! With no apologies.  Yes, you. 

Why?  Because when you hold yourself small everyone around you holds themselves small too.  Out of politeness.  Especially in the south.  Because we don’t want to out-do each other, but mostly because we feel that it’s really, truly wrong to be in the spotlight, or to even want to be.

But I want to tell it like it is.  Until you can love yourself enough to step into the spotlight, you are holding yourself and everyone around you small too.   

When you can embrace your beautiful self, warts and all, and love every inch of you and present yourself in a way that enhances your beauty, you make God proud.  He didn’t create you to be mediocre and put yourself at the bottom of your list.  When you don’t take care of you, who will? 

So SHINE, dammit!  (I don’t curse often, so please pardon my French)  Raise your expectations.  Hold yourself accountable and don’t let yourself go.  It doesn’t take a king’s ransome or all the time in the world to look good, or even your best.  I’m not talking red-carpet ready, but a realistic version of yourself that’s more than what you’ve been settling for. 

Show yourself off.  Embrace what’s great about you.  Wear your best colors.  Wear what makes you feel like standing up for what you believe in and making a difference in the world.  Wear what makes your heart sing.  When you do, others will too!  Your behavior gives others permission to step into their greatness and their potential.  And taking one small step towards looking and feel great brings you one step closer to YOU!

Need help to discover how beautiful you truly are?  Contact me at to set up a Find Your Style Inquiry session and learn how you can blossom into who you were meant to be.  

After working with women intimately, getting into their closets, seeing them try on clothing and helping them put themselves together in a way that brings out their best, I’ve discovered it’s their self-image that holds them back and keeps them from seeing themselves as beautiful. In our culture, it isn’t common for women to see themselves as beautiful or even accept that they are attractive.  Women somehow feel that they can’t accept a compliment and they brush it off without a thought because they don’t feel deserving of it.  But the irony is that by rejecting compliments, they’re rejecting their own beauty.  When they’re able to accept themselves as the gorgeous women they truly are, everything changes.

Why do I want you to see yourself as beautiful?  Why not just nice, pretty or mildly attractive?  Because when you’re beautiful, you’re being the best you can be.  Beautiful is about excellence.  You’re tapping into what makes you stand out and you feel a stronger connection to yourself.  It’s not merely superficial, but something that goes to your very core.

Think of a ripe, juicy orange ready to burst, a gorgeous rose in full bloom or an amazing, colorful sunset.  They are in their full glory, at their best because that’s the way they were made.  Nature didn’t create them to play small and only show half of their brilliance, just like God didn’t create you to hold yourself small and keep your gifts hidden.  Yet, as beautiful as the orange, the rose and the sunset are, they are not without imperfections – the orange may have a blemish or two on its skin, the rose has its prickly thorns and the view of the sunset may be obscured by the trees.  However, these imperfections do not take away from their beauty, but serve to make it more real to us.  It is with these imperfections that our humanity is reflected.  We are not perfect beings and for us to criticize ourselves because of our imperfections is for us to deny our humanity. Look past the imperfections and your true beauty will be revealed. When you can see your true beauty, despite what you consider to be your imperfections, you light the way for others to begin to see their own beauty.

Looking and feeling beautiful is about being in touch with who you are and reflecting your essence in how you present yourself to the world.  It’s a level of self-confident assurance as much as it is a personal style.  It’s that way of being that says “This is who I am.  Take it or leave it.”  With this self-assuredness, you can bet everyone around you will want to connect with you and be a part of your secret. They’ll want what you have, that certain something that they just can’t put their finger on.  You’ll inspire them to find it in themselves, just by being you!

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”

— Leo Tolstoy

Every once in a while a celebrity comes along who looks gorgeous yet is very badly behaved.  Well, maybe more often these days, but I’m not naming names – I’m sure you can think of one.  They may have perfect skin, beautiful hair and a great body, but they lack integrity, morals or even the ability to treat others with respect.  Do we want to look like these women? Absolutely not!  While we can admire their outer beauty, their attitude keeps them disconnected from themselves and at a far distance from others.  This is not true, authentic beauty but merely a superficial interpretation of what these women think they should be.  They act this way because they are not being true to themselves and they are not happy with conforming to someone else’s rules.  If they could let go of what others think of them and let their own light shine, their world would be a different place.

Being beautiful is not about looking a certain way to please others.  It’s about bringing out the very best you, your authentic self.  It’s more than skin deep.  Beauty goes to your core and reflects who you are on the inside.  When you bring out the very best about you – inside and out – you create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.  It’s an equation that you can’t force, but must be stepped into authentically.

Stepping into your beauty is as much about stepping into a new mindset as it is a new wardrobe.  Dressing the part is only a piece of it, and when you step into a higher version of yourself you embrace your beauty and are ready to claim it.  Beauty is about an expansion that you feel when you give of yourself, and that expansion takes you to a whole new level.  When we feel negative thoughts about ourselves or others, we contract and go inward, keeping ourselves small and therefore holding everyone around us small.  When we can see the beauty in ourselves, we feel expansive and want to see the good and the beauty in those around us.  Our expansive attitude helps us to create the space for others to expand and step into their higher selves.  It’s not about competition, but more about inclusion.  It’s a win-win mentality that says you can be beautiful and everyone else can too!

Being beautiful is about honoring yourself while being in service to others.  Feeling a genuine desire to connect with people and to help them live better lives enriches your own experience and adds beauty and value to your life. Think of Princess Diana.  She was a true beauty on the outside, but her outreach to help others in need showed us her inner beauty and made her so much more gorgeous to the world.  She was more than just a pretty face – she had substance and that made her so much more beautiful.

Your Assignment:

Ask yourself what actions help you to feel great about yourself while helping others?

How can you create expansion in your attitude?

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” – Judy Garland

When I was a girl I played with my Barbie dolls. From an early age I always wondered why Barbie’s waist was so tiny, yet she was so tall and voluptuous. She became the ideal for my friends and me as young girls, and served as a role model for how we thought women should look. I know I never measured up – with my short, dark hair, my expanding waistline and curves in what I felt were all the wrong places, it left me feeling that there was something wrong with me, and that I was somehow inferior. My best friend was tall and skinny, but she felt the same way I did. She couldn’t relate to Barbie’s unrealistic proportions any better than I could, although we both thought she was the role model we should aspire to. We compared ourselves to these dolls and the more we did, the more it chipped away at our self-esteem.

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and some of the celebrities of our time were Farrah Fawcett, Bo Derek, Cheryl Tiegs and Christy Brinkley. While they were all very different, one of the commonalities among them was how thin they were, yet voluptuous and sexy – much like the Barbies from years ago. I remember seeing posters in my brother’s room, as well as every other middle school aged boy at the time, of these women and just staring, wondering why I couldn’t look like that. It’s not that I had a real compelling desire to look like these sexpots, but it was the fact that all the boys seemed to be drooling over them and I felt that if I didn’t look like that, then somehow I was inferior and boys wouldn’t like me. Here I was, taller than most boys, starting to develop but struggling with my weight, and anything but confident. I was at a very impressionable age and the impression I got was that I needed to change, big time. The messages I was getting from all around me was that I was not acceptable the way that I was and that I better start doing something about it or I would never be good enough for boys to like me.

At the time I read Teen, Seventeen, Young Miss and other magazines geared towards pre-teens and teens. In the back were ads for modeling schools that read “Look Like a Model”. I clearly remember thinking that if I just filled out the form and sent it in then I could change the way I looked to be exactly like any model I chose – for me, it was a toss up between Cheryl Tiegs and Christy Brinkley. I could never decide, so the form never got sent in. I didn’t realize that I could look just like me – and still be model-worthy. My belief was that I had to change everything from my hair color to my size and everything in between. That disconnect stayed with me for a very long time.

Your Assignment: Ask yourself how your ideals of beauty and what you grew up thinking was beautiful have affected how you see yourself and feel about yourself.  How can you shift this to be more positive?

 “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

In my work as an image consultant, I work with plenty of amazing, gorgeous women who are healthy, strong and sexy!  Yet when they come to my studio I hear about how big their hips are, how they don’t like their arms or their thighs, and a whole host of other complaints about their appearance.  They see what’s ‘wrong’ with them, but are often completely missing what their true assets are.  They don’t get that they’re beautiful, have a great shape or luminous skin.  With this glass half-empty mindset, they can only see themselves as unattractive and imperfect.  This creates a negative self-image, which causes negative self-talk and keeps the negative cycle in motion.

Men and women are both affected by self-image, but I’ve found that women fall prey to a negative self-image far too easily and let it stand in their way of success in business as well as success in life.  I have seen firsthand just how many women have low self-esteem and a poor self-image, and it’s simply baffling.  I meet many amazing women, but am always surprised by how quick they criticize themselves, referring to their ‘thunder thighs’, making fun of their pale skin, or thinking they don’t deserve to look great.  When you hold yourself small and put yourself last on your list, you are sending the message, to both yourself as well as the world around you, that you’re not good enough.  That thought reinforces your negative beliefs that make you right and you stay in that place of self-doubt and low self-esteem.

Most women are so much more critical of themselves than they are of others and the impact this has on their lives is incredible.  Being critical of yourself holds you back from going for what you really want.  It keeps you from seeing your own beauty and your true potential.  It prevents you from taking risks.  It keeps you in jobs, relationships or situations that make you miserable.  It sucks the life right out of you and you don’t even realize it.

Where did you get the idea that you aren’t good enough?  Your low self-esteem and negative self-image come from multiple sources:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Television
  • Magazines
  • Movies

While you may grow up being told you were pretty, chances are there were some other factors playing into your opinion of your appearance that left you feeling doubtful.  Images of women in the media that don’t look like you can contribute to the belief that you, too, can’t be beautiful.  While this opinion seems to be prevalent, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Looking and feeling beautiful doesn’t come naturally to everyone.  In fact, it’s rare to find a woman who is beautiful, who claims her beauty and shines from the inside out, but it doesn’t have to be this way.  We were all created beautiful and it is our birthright to be beautiful both inside and out.  Being beautiful is not exclusive to models or celebrities – it’s something that each one of you is capable of achieving, even if it may seem very out of reach right now.

As a woman, it is your tendency to hold yourself small and spend time obsessing about the size of your hips or the wrinkles that appear on your face.  Never mind what others say about you, you become your own worst enemy with your negative self talk and the put-downs that run through your head daily.  You think it’s wrong to feel great about yourself, to be beautiful, to shine.  I’m here to tell you that the only thing that’s wrong is NOT to.  I want to encourage you to let go of your negative self-image and live the life you’ve always dreamed of!  It’s not only possible, but it can be easier than you may think.  It begins by saying “YES” to you.

It may seem indulgent, or even excessive to want to be beautiful, but I want to tell you that beautiful is what you’re created to be.  God doesn’t create women to be mediocre.  By stepping into your full, beautiful potential, you take a step towards making the world a better place to be.  You step into your power and away from tolerating things that no longer serve you.  You step into a place of service to others and away from being self-serving.  You step into something much bigger than you ever thought possible, and it feels like you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.  You step into making a difference for others and bringing happiness to those around you.  Being beautiful creates expansion and the more you give the more you receive.  Being beautiful is about being in a place of love and gratitude.  It’s about being present in the moment and getting the most out of every situation.  Beauty is not about being in a vacuum and looking great superficially – it’s about being beautiful, inside and out, and leaving your mark on the world in a wonderful and unique way.

So much more than just superficial, beauty is something that cannot be bought but must be tapped in to.  Self-image can affect you on different levels, but one of the more tangible ways it affects how you behave is the money you spend on beauty products, diet aids, new clothes, designer handbags and more.  It’s easy to want that proverbial ‘quick fix’ and so in your moments of weakness you get lured into buying things you don’t need, often to impress people that you really don’t even like, and are encouraged to go into debt to ‘keep up with the Kardashians’.

Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.” – Sophia Loren

The advertising industry creates such appealing ads, with their svelte, sexy models that we buy into them, feeling that if only we used the same products as Isabella Rosselini or Heidi Klum then we’d have their amazing beauty, or if only we spent a month’s salary on a handbag then we’d have the same sex appeal as the half-naked model flanked by the hot men in the ad.  We’re set up to feel inadequate, and those feelings of inadequacy lead us to impulsive and very materialistic actions. Why do you think that the diet and cosmetics industries are both billion-dollar businesses?  They play to our insecurities and then offer ‘the solution’ that they promise will help us have the lives of our dreams.  Haven’t you ever thought ‘if only I could lose 20 pounds, have better skin, wear better clothes, etc. then I could have the perfect boyfriend, the perfect job, the perfect life’?  Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Once you hand over your credit card, you may experience a moment of exhilaration, but the fact is that you’re not buying beauty but merely another ‘thing’.  And how many ‘things’ do you have at home right now that you thought were going to give you the perfect body, boost your confidence or bring you romance?  Chances are at least a few.  The feeling of not being good enough is enough to drive you to impulse spending and materialism that can sometimes border on extreme.  It doesn’t take much persuading when you go out shopping and see all the amazing things that you could buy to “make you a better person.”  It’s become all too easy to buy into the idea that if you just bought them all then you’d look gorgeous, men would love you and all your problems would go away.  But you couldn’t be more wrong.  This sense of materialism will only add to your problems in the form of huge credit card bills.  But mostly, it’s a short-lived high that will be followed by a much lower low, because now you have these bills – but nothing else has changed.

What will make a change for you is to boost your self-esteem and your confidence in yourself.  In a study by Lan Nguyen Chaplin (UniversityofIllinois Urbana-Champaign) and Deborah Roedder John (UniversityofMinnesota), they found that even a simple gesture to raise your self-esteem dramatically decreased materialism, which provides a temporary way to cope with insecurity.  Why not buy yourself some flowers, spend some time journaling or say a few meditations to get you in the right frame of mind?  It can help you connect to yourself so that you don’t need to fill the void by shopping or searching for that ‘quick fix’.

Your assignment: Determine what small act you could do to raise your self-esteem.  Focus your attention away from what you could buy and more on what you could do.  Doing something for others is a wonderful way to quickly boost your self-worth and make a difference for someone else in the process.  Or try just taking a few minute out of your day to exercise, listen to music or read a favorite book.  It really doesn’t take that much to change your perspective and help you to feel great about who you already are.  

My 8-year old daughter is going to shave her head.  And yes, I’m fully supportive of her.

Several weeks ago my spirited, creative and strong-willed daughter announced that she wanted to shave her head to raise money to fight cancer for St. Baldrick’s Foundation.  She explained that one of her 2 BFF’s (the male in the triumverate that I have come to refer to as the 3 musketeers) was going to do it and she wanted to as well.

I had to sit with this for a while.  I didn’t really respond, but merely nodded my head in acknowledgement each time she mentioned it.  Ok, so Ronan’s going to do it.  Ok, it’s for a good cause.  Ok, it’s in a few weeks.  But inside I was thinking ‘over my dead body.’

Most parents would reluctantly agree to let their child shave their heads, especially if they’re not even a pre-teen, and ESPECIALLY if they happen to be a girl.  Yet somehow I knew it was the right thing to do for Ivy.

Ivy brought up shaving her head on multiple occasions.  Each time she announced that she ‘wanted to do something for someone else.’ I thought the sentiment was great but I wasn’t sure she was prepared for what would follow – having NO hair for a few months and perhaps suffering the wrath of some ill-intended kids who would make fun of her.  Her dad and I talked about it several times, and we gave her several (many) dramatic scenarios that were worst case scenarious (we felt it was our parental duty) and really got in her face about it.  After all, we know how cruel kids can be and while we think the cause is wonderful, we wanted to make sure that she wouldn’t suffer for it afterwards.

I had come to terms with the fact that she was going to do this and even sat down to create her web page last week.  She was inundated with donations and we were a bit surprised at the level of support she received.  The more support she has gotten the more excited she is to do this.  Yet the real excitement didn’t hit me until last weekend.

Contribution.  One of the key elements in my life that has made such a profound difference for me.  After suffering from low self-esteem for many years, I realize that one of the things that has made such a tremendous difference in my own life is to make a difference for others.  To feel that I’m part of something bigger than myself.  From my own personal experience I see how this experience can positively impact her for the rest of her life and help to shape her self-image as a generous, loving and selfless person.  Then I happened to pick up a copy of Tony Robbins “Awaken the Giant Within” and read his profound words:

The secret to living is giving.

Knowing who we are as people, no matter what our age, is defined by what we’ve done or said that somehow enhances the life of another.  By shaving her head, Ivy’s own personal sense of self is enriched, as well as her connection to those she is helping and – from an even bigger standpoint – to her connection to all of humanity. No longer is she a selfish girl only concerned for her own benefit, but she is giving a part of herself to help another.  What better lesson is there to be humbled, yet to sense how profoundly important we are, all at the same time.

So Ivy, go ahead and shave your head, girl.  Proud is not a big enough word to describe how I feel about it.