How does your body image affect your willingness to increase your visibility as an entrepreneur?
While everyone’s journey is different, I would venture that many women entrepreneurs are like me: Struggling with positive body image, resulting in not getting visible in her marketing.
I have been thinking a lot about my body image lately, specifically how it’s affecting my mindset. Truth be told, I am hard on myself. And I know that I am sabotaging my success because I critique my body so harshly.
I decided to put pen to paper, and then fingers to keyboard, to talk to you about my body image journey. Please know I am not fishing for compliments, though I do love them (LOL!). Instead, I want to illuminate this subject because other woman entrepreneurs’ marketing efforts are affected by their negative body image, too.
Loud Women, it’s time to put an end to this. But first, I want to tell you how it started. Here goes…
When I was 12 years old, I want to an event with my Girl Scout troop. It was an expo with all kinds of vendors there—from Merle Norman cosmetics to local gymnastics groups. My friend Jennifer and I spotted the Barbizon Modeling School table and shyly walked over. The Barbizon representative shot us a big, warm smile and exclaimed, “You could be models!” to us.
I have no doubt the Barbizon lady told every young girl that, but it didn’t matter to my pre-teen self because she planted a seed that I carry still.
Awakened to the idea that I “could be a model,” I began to study models. This was the mid-1980’s, so I had plenty of women to study, such as Christie Brinkley, Brooke Shields, Jennifer O’Neal, Carol Alt, and Kim Alexis. At one point, I had a large poster board filled with photos of models, including a border comprised of different Cover Girl ads. Cover Girl ads were not hard to find—they were everywhere! I devoured each one like I was studying for a math test.
I emulated the models’ hair, nails, make-up, and clothes. I was tall and thin and beautiful, and I strutted down the high school hallways like they were my cat walks. I looked like a model, at least I thought I did, and when I studied the models’ photos, I felt equal—just undiscovered.
Despite my desire and research, I never became a model, mostly because my mother discouraged it. It’s the biggest regret of my life.
My current body image and how it’s affecting my visibility as an entrepreneur
Fast forward to now: I am a 210-pound, 5’10” middle-aged woman, who still studies models’ photos (“what if…”). Instead of seeing myself as an equal, though, I now see myself coming up short. Or rather, fat.
My weight gain started in my thirties, and by the time I was 44 years old, I topped the scale at 250 pounds. I started what I called my “weight release journey,” and I successfully lost 60 pounds. I felt great! I wasn’t skinny, but I wasn’t too fat either. My body image was in a good place.
Then, five years later, the weight crept back on. Despite exercising and changing my eating habits, the weight stubbornly wants to stay. Okay, I will admit that I stress eat peanut butter, and that doesn’t help. I went from a size 12 to size 16. And I am embarrassed because I have gained half the weight I worked so hard to release.
When I look in the mirror, I see a woman with a pretty face and large belly, and I think: “I don’t want anyone to see me like this.” I also think: “No one wants to see me like this either.”
So, I hide.
When I do “show up,” it’s only from the chest up. I think: If they can’t see my belly, they will think I am skinny. I know: I am not fooling anyone.
It’s not just about visibility; my weight also affects my success mindset.
“I am not beautiful because I am not thin. And, because I am not thin, I can’t be a success.”
In other words, I am hiding because I am overweight. The deeply rutted belief in my head believes that thin=success, fat ≠ success.
Now, I know there are many highly successful female models, actors, musicians, and entrepreneurs who are not skinny. I rejoice in these incredible women’s success, and I am glad they are out there, unapologetically being themselves. You may even be thinking: Jill, if they are successful, you can be too!
Sadly, that’s not how I see it, at least for right now. That’s the mindset pivot I’m working on.
Changing my mindset and beliefs
With this blog post, I am declaring that it’s time for a change—and not just a change in waist size. It’s time for me to rewire my brain to believe: No matter how much I weigh:
- People want to hear from me, and
- I can be a success.
To help with this mindset pivot, I am making these three commitments to help boost my body image:
- I’m submitting my photos to modeling agencies (deadline: December 31). I am not expecting any modeling contracts. Instead, I need closure on my teenage dream. That door needs to close so other doors can open. Blessing and releasing.
- I am embracing that I feel great when I style my hair, wear make-up, paint my nails, and wear clothes that make me feel pretty. I can chastise myself for needing to “dress up” to feel good about myself (the old patriarchal conditioning that a woman must be pretty to show her worth). I know: I should feel beautiful without the mascara and OPI nail polish, but let’s go one step at a time.
- Affirmations are my best “pattern interrupters,” so I will create affirmations to help retrain my brain about my body image.
In addition to working on my positive body image, I am committing to something else: To imperfectly get more visible. To show my true self, belly and all.
Eventually, I will detach from praise and criticism, and to love myself, no matter what the scale says, but for now, it’s imperfect action time.
And imperfect action feels right, right? Because none of us are perfect (not even Christie Brinkley!).
So that’s where I am on my body image journey. I hope it inspires and awakens you. I wonder if you’re hiding because of a negative body image, and if so, how will you rise above it and get visible anyway? Perhaps my commitments will help you.
I’ll finish with this…
Here’s to being imperfect. Here’s to our bodies, no matter the cellulite. Here’s to our beauty, scars and all. Here’s to be imperfect because we are imperfect, and that’s 100 percent okay.
The world needs us, Loud Woman, so let’s stop hiding and get it done.
Here are some other resources that will help you with your marketing and mindset:
My mentoring program, the Loud Woman Marketing Strategy Session, where we create a marketing plan that will increase your visibility and confidence to market to your ideal clients
My book, That First Client, which will teach you how to create an effective marketing system that will always attract clients to your business
My book, Loud Woman, which will inspire you to get Louder in your life and business
Check out my latest blog post about marketing, getting clients, and the Law of Attraction
Virtual Networkers, my global virtual networking organization for women entrepreneurs
Get More Clients Track, a year-long program that will teach you how the fundamentals of marketing so you’re always attracting clients
Manifest More Clients Track, a year-long program that will teach you how to use the Law of Attraction in your marketing
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