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I stood in front of a dressing room mirror in a little boutique in Soho and stared at the reflection. Who is that girl? I was wearing a form-fitting Alexander Wang dress. It hugged every curve my mama had given me. And I felt like I was on top of the world. Until…… My mind started playing tricks on me.
This little adventure had all started because I felt like I was in a style rut.
I had spent the previous six years cultivating my internal world to be more loving, full of joy and self-respect.
Yet, I didn’t feel like my outsides matched all that goodness that was happening on the inside.
So I hired a personal stylist. I desperately wanted to find someone with the know-how about style to help me take how I felt inside (joyful, in love and passionate about life) and express it out into the world.
The idea of a stylist seemed like the perfect solution up until this moment as I looked into the mirror.
I started to have my doubts.
“I can’t buy this,” I told my stylist.
“Why not? It looks great on you,” she argued.
As a girl who grew up in a trailer in the deep South, hiring personal stylists wasn’t something I was accustomed to.
And in that moment, my mindset immediately reverted back into the woman I was so many years prior.
Followed by a long line of excuses came pouring out of my mouth. Excuses I had heard many times before.
“It’s too tight.”
“Don’t you think it looks slutty?”
“I’m too old.”
“Look how big my butt looks.”
“I’m a mom, for chrissakes.”
By this time, the two sales ladies had gathered around me to see what all the commotion was about.
(funny note: Years later, I realize how ridiculous my meltdown was, especially considering how conservative the dress was — round neckline, long sleeves and below my knees. )
“Oh honey, that dress was made for you,” one of the sales ladies said.
“God made those curves to be hugged,” the other one chimed in.
But, my mind had no ability not take in their compliments.
Instead, I thought…
There are just trying to make a commission.
Watching my dramatic moment, my stylist went from styling to counseling me in a matter of seconds, as she obviously realized that there was something much deeper taking place in the back of the small SOHO boutique.
She grabbed my hands, looked me in the eyes and said,
“Tonya, one day you’ll wish you’d played more in the body you have right now.”
I felt like I had been punched in the gut.
Age, motherhood and a decade of yo-yo dieting with massive weight fluctuations had certainly changed my body. Things jiggled that at one time stayed in place before. I had stretch marks from my belly to my thighs.
But then, I had a lightbulb moment.
Wait a minute.
I had these very same thoughts before my body grew a baby and things stayed firmly in place. Even before, when my skin was tight and my body smaller, I constantly believed it wasn’t good enough.
Obviously, this was a much deeper issue that really wasn’t about my body at all.
This was about my relationship with her.
That underlying current of not feeling good enough had been present at all ages, shapes and sizes.
I realized in that moment that I had conditioned myself to believe such fallacies like:
I can’t dress or buy anything sexy until I am a size 4.
(…apparently I had conveniently forgotten that the iconic Marilyn Monroe was a size 12)
I can’t wear a bathing suit until my stretch marks have vanished from my belly and thighs.
(…the last I heard, completely removing stretch marks is impossible).
I can’t invest in a beautiful pair of shoes until I feel financially secure.
(…with the way my mind was wired at the time, one million dollars wouldn’t have been enough).
The same questions kept coming up:
Who do you think you are?
What are people going to think?
You look ridiculous.
My life and wardrobe had been built on fear, shame, and unworthiness.
Something had to give.
I had to get out of this rut I had dug for myself. Not just in my wardrobe – but my thinking behind it. I couldn’t keep making the same choices and expect different results.
I looked at my reflection in the mirror and said to myself:
We are doing this!
I bought the dress.
And in the spirit of rebellion, I decided to buy my first pair of Louboutins to match.
That one decision and outfit changed my life.
From that day forward, I have made a conscious effort to enjoy and adorn the body I had. Each time I’ve worn an outfit that has stretched the way I see myself, I’ve had the beautiful opportunity to confront parts of myself that I need to let go of.
No more excuses, waiting and putting my life on hold until “someday”.
Despite the old mind chatter, I put on that dress (and many other outfits) and made the world my runway — celebrating having a feminine body and enjoying her.
Eventually, the thoughts have softened and transformed into celebration.
“Who do you think you are?”
…..has become I am a woman who wears what she wants.
“What are people going to think?”
…..has became I don’t really care what people think.
“You look ridiculous!”
…..has become you look fabulous.
From jeans that show off my round derriere, to dresses that hug my curves, to bathing suits that don’t come up to my navel, I’ve slowly evolved into a woman who celebrates her femininity through clothes.
And, the most unexpected surprise: My body changed too!
Something magical happens when a woman sees a reflection of who she’s becoming instead of who she’s been.
The better I dressed, the better I felt.
The better I felt, the better actions I took in my life.
The better actions I have taken have led to better outcomes.
And, my body has never felt better.
How to change your Life (aka Get out of a Rut)
Ruts happen. It can be a style rut like I experienced. But, I’ve also been in many kinds of ruts in my life — ruts in my relationships, career, business, creativity, financial, health.
The theory behind me hiring stylist and buying a new dress can be applied to any kind of life rut.
If you’re in any kind of rut, my firm advice to you, is this:
Be fully committed to shake things up.
Do something out of your comfort zone.
3 Days of Extraordinary
Extraordinary Women Do Extraordinary Things ...
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