Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us -- our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty.
In September of 2007, I launched my blog, Already Pretty. I did it almost on a dare. A coworker friend had approached me for some personalized style advice, and I was positively giddy at the prospect of telling her what she could and couldn’t wear. I wrote up a list of guidelines –- seasonal style rules, wardrobe basics, and the like -– and handed it over a week before our little closet consult. She was blown away and said, “You should put this on a blog. People would love it.” So I did. Because I ALWAYS do what I’m told.
That was the catalyst.
But I also started blogging because I wanted to write about how style impacts body image and how dressing creatively can build self-confidence and self-esteem. Years ago, I utilized so much energy hating my body that I exhausted myself into depression. I tried to change my body with diets and exercise, believing that its shape and size were the root of the problem, but I just kept on hating it. It wasn't until I began exploring fashion and style -- dressing in fun, flattering, and form-fitting clothes -- that an unexplored universe began to open up to me. For the first time, I respected my body. I realized that there was nothing wrong with my body. I saw my body as integral to my identity. I wanted to show it off, and decorate it joyously, and hone my personal style so that I could understand it on new levels. When I started to dress in a way that made me look amazing and feel amazing, I finally stopped actively, continually, exhaustingly hating my body. And I immediately wanted to show other women how to make that connection so they could stop hating theirs.
I have learned a lot over the past three years and changed my views on many topics. I no longer believe that there are fashion faux pas or “wrong” ways to dress. I no longer believe that every woman longs to create a tall, thin, balanced figure. I no longer believe that any clothing-related choice is entirely autonomous. I no longer believe that any piece of clothing is universally flattering. But I still believe that stylish dressing can both empower and transform. And I fervently believe that creative dressing is good for your soul.
When we dress each day, we may consider matters of comfort, flattery, societal judgment, seasonal appropriateness, age-appropriateness, pragmatism, and more as we make our selections. And it can be overwhelming and frustrating to balance so many conflicting factors, and many women prefer to keep their wardrobes as simple as possible. A minimalistic approach to style creates its own rewards -- serenity, ease, and reliability among them. But if you're willing to navigate the maze of clothing-related considerations, dressing may become a rewarding and enriching creative outlet. Learning about clothes in their dazzling variety, understanding the intricacies of how clothes interact with your figure, and learning to play with accessories, layers, and colors -- all of these activities allow you to express your tastes and personality. Dressing in a way that visually represents your innermost dreams and desires, expresses your love and respect for your body, and broadcasts your ingenuity to the observing world is a marvelous way to keep your imagination active and your self-image strong.
I believe there are three levels to becoming a stylish woman: Learning to love and accept your body, learning to dress your body in a way that aligns with your personal figure flattery priorities, and learning to dress your body in a way that expresses your personality and tastes. Accessing that third level can help foster self-love and self-respect while simultaneously providing a fun and rewarding creative outlet.
The first bits of information that you share with the world are encompassed by your body, your comportment, and your clothing. Why not capitalize on that opportunity? Show the world how unique and sensual and graceful and elegant and funky and radiant you truly are. Doing so might just help you learn to love yourself.
This blogger is also featured on EndlessBeauty.com, a website focused on a fresh look at beauty, from skin to hair to makeup, plus celeb style, fashion, and fitness.
Sally McGraw writes daily style and body image blog Already Pretty, which provides tips and advice for women who want to look and feel fabulous every single day.