Perhaps it is a unfortunate fact, that our society has been teaching us quite contrary (and useless) ideas about the ‘looks’:
- Looks are superficial, and those who are focused on their appearance are superficial people.
- “Looking good is part of feeling good” motto that keeps the beauty/spa industry in business.
- “Don’t judge a book by its cover” – perhaps, but we are likely to judge an actual book by what’s written on the cover, just to save time.
Which brings us to the point….
Appearance is about communication
In the animal world, the nature pretty much took care of things – peacock feathers are designed to attract, snake’s skin pattern is meant to warn of danger, and other creatures use it as camouflage to avoid predators.
In the human world, we have an incredible ability to adopt our look to communicate something to the world. 90% of communication is non-verbal, and of course body-language is not thought of as ‘superficial’. Like it or not, the way your physical package/representation to the world allows others to gather information about you. Why not take advantage of this notion and become more successful in many aspects of our lives?
There’s a reason the ‘put together’ people are thought to be confident, competent, and of course attractive. While, on the flip side – if someone is confident enough to go to the grocery store in their pajamas, the consensus will be not “wow, this person is confident in themselves enough to go out like this”, but more along the lines “wow, this person probably just doesn’t care”.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with not caring how others perceive you, of course. However, if you wish to win in life – the communication has to be strategic yet cohesive with your values.
I’ll give you a personal example:
I started this new job in a small company, ruled by a ruthless owner. I was hired, paid as little as they could get away with, and quite timid – my appearance reflected it. I wore glasses, my hair were always up in a clip, I was about 145lbs and wore whatever I thought cute&comfortable (but always pants – cause I wanted to present professionally, LOL).
The result: I was treated like the ‘little sister’ of the operations team. Yes, my evil boss would hesitate to chew me out at our bi-weekly meetings just yet, but things changed – and I became aware that, though on the same ladder as my male peers, I was not being taken seriously.
Time for a change:
The change did not happen simply to ‘fit in’ – in fact, I didn’t want to; I would rather prefer to ‘stand out’. And I have to make a confession here… There was this Jersey/Italian stallion Casanova, who’s entire wardrobe was composed exclusively of Ralph Lauren, his hair always gelled, and no matter how he was performing, the big boss held him in high regard. He had mastered to employ his exterior to communicate his “competency”. I took note. And in a period of a couple of months, I evolved my look from ‘nerdy-girl-next-door’ to… how best to say it… ‘try to fuck with me – and you’ll lose”.
Unlike my lady-boss, the ‘President’ of that small-cap Hell, Inc., I did not discard my womanliness, and resort to black pant suits and short hair, so I look like a dude among dudes and garner respect. I did the opposite. I began to favor boots and skirts, while sticking to button-down Banana Rep shirts (the conservative ‘manly’ anchor that allowed me to get away with everything else). My hair was always styled (I’d get up at 4:30 am and wave it, then catch the morning train to NYC), and my makeup ideas were taken from the opera – to make sure, that the last row in the board room – the big boss – can see my face (LOL).
The result: My lady-boss was ice-cold to me. The big boss has tempered his evil treatment (all the females cried in the bathroom at one point – not me), once I could get him to notice that I’m a [female] force and can get the job done. And, well – the Casanova went into a prowl-mode, hehehehe.
To elaborate further – I got a much better offer from a large company, negotiated my salary, and left Hell, Inc. in the dust. I believe this is the power of transformation of how you communicate visually with your environment.
And the best thing is — you are free to calibrate is as you prefer. You never have to compromise yourself, but let others see what you’re about, through a non-verbal visual communication. Let them see you, and fill in the blanks themselves. Do not be surprised if bosses are all of a sudden giving you serious assignments, while the opposite sex is tongue-tied when initiating contact with you.
This was my experience. Let me know yours.