Insecurities Matter, and They Don't
Having worked in fashion and beauty for so many years I’ve generally been around a lot of women. One of the things I’ve noticed is; we tend to put ourselves down. Of course this isn't true of all women or only women, but it’s definitely something I’ve seen over and over again.
Firstly I want to say, if there’s something that genuinely bothers you about yourself, it’s valid. And I don't mean that in a horrible or harsh way, what I’m trying to say is all too often if we have a bestie who’s saying she doesn't like her arms - for example - even if we tell them they’re crazy and they’re arms are perfectly normal, I think we have to listen, hear them, and know that sometimes it’s better to help someone fix something that’s bothering them rather than just discredit how they feel.
I saw it all the time working in bridal, someone would say they wanted a dress that wasn't too fitted because of their lower belly, or something that covered their arms, or back, or wasn't tight around the thighs etc. and all of her girlfriends or sisters would suddenly break out into a chorus of “You’re nuts! You’re beautiful! Your belly is fine!” But time and time again, something would happen when it was just me and the bride in the changing room; I’d say something along the lines of “If you’re self conscious about XYZ here’s what we can do/recommend to counteract that.” And she’d positively melt with excitement about not having to worry about sucking in her stomach all day, or holding her arms in a certain position for photos etc. It wasn't me telling her “Yeah, you’re right, your thighs don't suit this dress,” (Of course I’d never say that to anyone in a million years,) but it was me validating that her feelings were being heard, and that if there was something bothering her that’s the last thing she should be worrying about, especially on her wedding day. But really, any day!
I think there’s a fine line to be treaded here though, for a couple of reasons; sometimes girls with body dysmorphia, or just a self esteem issue are a different case. Sometimes people genuinely are seeing things that simply aren't there. Even girls without these severe cases are sometimes victim of this. G-o-r-g-e-o-u-s women, and I’m talking head turning gorgeous, would come in to my boutique and tell me they wanted to essentially wear a tent for their wedding day because they hated their body. So again, I’d want her to feel validated, and that I wasn't shunning her feelings away, but I think there are gentle ways to remind someone that they’re beautiful, and sometimes all it takes is them trying something ‘daring’ on that they’d never try in a million years to realize and remember that they are.
It’s a hard thing to figure out sometimes, how do you make someone feel comfortable in their own skin, and realize they’re already perfect without having to change anything, while at the same time letting them know that their feelings are normal and that you’re taking them into consideration? I think it’s a case by case scenario.
Most of the time we don’t know the other persons full journey. Speaking from my own experience, I sometimes visit now as an adult the place I used to work when I was a very young girl. And without fail every time I’m there I’m flooded back with memories about how unsure, insecure, and down on myself I was at that time. It’s such a powerful flashback, even just when I’m passing by. (I happen to ironically live just a 10 minute car ride away.) But it’s also a reminder of how far I’ve come, self esteem wise. Point being, if someone would have told me at 15 “You’re pretty! Come on! You’re just saying that for attention!” I would have really been hurt by that, because I wasn't lying, I truly felt horrible about myself and would pick myself apart. I needed someone to listen, not tell me, “Hush, you’re nuts.”
So I think the perfect happy medium is this; remind someone that they’re beautiful, that they have so many amazing wonderful qualities, but hear them out and don't throw away their feelings if they’re opening up to you about something they’re self conscious about. Even if you’re friend with the skinny arms is saying they feel fat, as much as you want to say she's being insane, you don't know what’s inside the person’s head. Let her open up to you, and you definitely can tell her how beautifully sculpted her arms are and remind her that that’s what you and the rest of the world see, but let her know she’s perfectly valid in her feelings and that all of us are self conscious about something. Ladies, what I’m saying here is that we need to combine listening with building each other up.