“I’m not saying you’re fat, but…”
That’s what a strange man said to me the other day. Yep, someone I don’t know stopped me in the street to talk about my weight.
It’s not even an isolated incident – stuff like this has happened all sorts of places over the years, like:
- At school.
- In the street, from other pedestrians.
- In the street, from people shouting at me out their car window as they drive past.
- Standing at a bus stop.
- On a bus.
- At work (when I worked weekends at the local supermarket).
- In a restaurant, as my family and I were celebrating my mum’s birthday.
Every time I leave my home I risk being judged and fat shamed by total strangers. The conversations range from the patronising “keep up the good work” in reference to me being out for a walk, to the weird “if you’re going to eat too much you should exercise more” – I mean, WTF? Then there are the downright abusive ones, because apparently my body shouldn’t exist, at least not where other people can see it.
It’s not as though I’m unaware of my size and need it pointed out. It’s my body. I live in it and I know what I look like. But my body is my business. Not anyone else’s.
I wish I could say that I have a supply of witty and caustic comebacks to the cretins who accost me. But I don’t. I’ve taken the abuse. Three decades of being shamed does leave a mark, after all. It makes a person feel ashamed.
By now you’re probably thinking, “what’s this got to do with branding?”
The answer is, everything.
Because when you work for a big corporation, you can be a faceless cog in the machine. You can keep your head down and quietly do the work. But when you run a small business, when you are your brand, you can’t afford to hide yourself away.
People buy from people. Cliché but true.
Especially when they’re buying from a small business. They want the personal touch, to know who they’re dealing with. That’s why you should always have at least one nice photo of yourself on your website. It’s one of the fastest ways to start building rapport and making connections with potential customers.
Every web designer knows that and I’m always telling my clients they need to get their headshots done. But I’ve never done it myself. Have you noticed there’s no photo of me anywhere on my site? The only picture is a little illustration that, of course, doesn’t show my whole body.
I’ve always said it was because I wanted my portfolio to do the talking. That’s what I want to be judged on, not my personal appearance. The truth is, it’s just been safer that way. Because people are free enough with the abuse in person. Online, anonymous behind their computer screens, they could be a helluva lot nastier. So, if people can’t see me they can’t have a go at me.
I’ve actually wanted to get some professional photos taken and I’ve kept putting it off. “I’ll get them done when I’m thin” I told myself over and over. “When I’m thin, I’ll be confident about getting in front of the camera.” Ugh. Also: Bull. Shit. Yeah, I’m calling BS on that. Because 30+ years of feeling shit about the way you look won’t just disappear with a smaller pair of jeans.
I’ve also got loads of ideas for stuff like videos, courses and other resources that, because it would mean showing myself on camera, I’ve put in the ‘someday’ pile. Ugh, again.
Logically, I know that my appearance has nothing to do with my abilities as a designer. Yet, for years I’ve been afraid to put myself out there and connect properly with my readers, subscribers and clients, and I’ve held myself back from creating things that I know could help people. Say it with me: ugh.
I’ve had enough of that now. The confidence to do these things won’t come overnight but I’m working on it. I am determined to start showing up more. Starting now. (Eek!) So in the spirit of practising what I preach, if we haven’t met properly before, this is me:
Good to meet you 🙂
How are you holding yourself back?
All sorts of things stop us from doing stuff we want to do or know we should do to benefit and grow our businesses. Maybe, like me, you have personal reasons. Like you feel you’re too young for people to take you seriously. Maybe your reasons are more professional, like you don’t think you have the right qualifications to offer a particular service.
Think for a moment about something you’d like to do but have been putting off. What has been stopping you?
Try writing it down, eg:
I will get professional photos taken when I’m thin.
Now your turn:
I will do/get/create/start ________________ when I ________________ .
I could do/get/have/create/start ________________ if only I ________________ .
What we need to work on is getting rid of the second part of that statement. Then whens and if-onlys; the reasons we’re holding ourselves back. Because if we keep waiting for those to happen we may never achieve the stuff we want to.
Maybe you’re a rip-the-plaster-off-quickly kind of person. Maybe all you need to do is score a line through the when/if only part of your goal and then decide on a time/place/way to make it happen.
Or maybe you need to take this in baby steps, to raise your confidence a piece at a time. I’m going for baby steps, hence the selfie. I’m also going to commit to taking more photos of myself, start allowing friends and family to take my photo and even start making some videos where I’m more than just a disembodied voice.
What does your journey look like?
Will you join me on this journey? Let’s stop getting in our own way and start creating the life and business we really want.
If you’d like to share what’s holding you back and how you’d like to stop letting it, please do leave a comment or get in touch. I promise to listen – or rather, read – without judgement.
Never miss a post
Enter your details to get my latest content by email, including exclusive tips and offers, just for subscribers.