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A few months back, I was meeting with my private clients in my virtual living room. We always have tons of fun, musing on everything from style to courage. During one particular meeting, we spent an hour talking about self-belief: What do you choose to believe about yourself? One of my clients went on to share a nasty email she had received from a co-worker earlier that day. By the time she joined us on the call, she was distraught.

She asked me, “Do you ever receive nasty comments?”


Every once in awhile, someone feels the need to express their unfavorable opinion of me. I don’t talk about these moments a lot, because truthfully, they don’t deserve my energy. However, I realize that this is a huge struggle for so many women. So, let me assure you, I have people who really don’t care for me.

Not too long ago, a woman said to me upon our first encounter:

Tonya, I hear you have great wisdom to share, but you’re just too pretty for me to take serious.

What??? A woman can’t be pretty and smart?

Obviously, she has never heard of Angelina Jolie or Lupita Amondi Nyong.

Nevertheless, I took a sip of wine and said, “Well, how does one argue with that,” and continued to talk about quantum physics with the rest of the group.

I remember a time in my life where this kind of comment would have rocked me to my core and sent me spiraling into despair. I would have probably shaved my head and waxed off my eyebrows to gain her favor.

Or, I would have been snarky and given her a list of all of my accolades, everything from being a CVICU nurse to graduating Summa Cum Laude from Boston University, in hopes of convincing her of my intellect.

But, I did neither. Actually, I felt sorry for her that she needed to tear another woman down to feel good about herself. Her opinion of me had everything to do with her and nothing at all to do with me.

However, what really bothers me is when I see women who are incredibly beautiful and wicked smart avoid these kinds of comments by shrinking and avoiding.

We hide behind our weight, our families and careers because we don’t want to offend people. I spent years doing that. At 75 pounds heavier, I was never called pretty.

Hiding is such a boring way to live.

So, listen up m’friend:

Don’t shrink to make someone else feel bigger. Ever.  {tweet it}

Also remember, if someone enjoys beer, they won’t like your Champagne. And, that’s okay.

When you truly know who you are, you don’t need others to know it.  {tweet it}

As a very wise French lady told me once, “A sign of elegance is when we don’t need to prove anything to anyone.”

If you’re always needing other people to approve of you, chances are you are not living your life full out.

You cannot live with passion if you’re worried about your passion offending others.

You cannot live with joie de vivre if you’re afraid to shine.

You cannot live in style if you’re afraid of what people will think.

And, you certainly cannot French Kiss Life, if you’re afraid to live life unapologetically.

By the way, I came home from that dinner and opened my inbox to this email:

Tonya, because of our work together, I have left a job I hated, moved to a place I love and have never been happier.

Those are the love letters I focus on. This is what I choose to believe about myself.

Now, tell me: what do you believe about you?

With Wicked Smart & Pretty Love,



Did you grab the FKL Manifesto?