Without question our external appearance is important. Studies show that it takes less than 30 seconds for people to form an impression on you based on the way you look.
It is no wonder that the image and fashion industry is as successful as it is today. Celebrity culture, the rise in plastic surgery, the red carpet glitz and glamour, ubiquitous designer fashion, makeup madness– all these cultural forces focus on the external appearance. But without innate self-confidence and self-acceptance, and strong, unchanging core values, your external image is merely a facade. It’s just window dressing.
It’s like getting a gift, beautifully wrapped with ribbons and trimmings and pretty paper, and opening the gift and finding your recipient gave you a water globe. Unless you’re a fan of water globes, you’d be very disappointed and even feel misled. So too, we can dress ourselves in the latest duds, put our best face forward, literally, and still feel ourselves wanting.
When I was an image consultant, coaching women on how to express their best external self to others, my professional philosophy was grounded on what issues or challenges my clients may be facing on the ‘inside’. Without tackling these issues from an image coaching perspective, it would have been difficult for me to properly advise and help my clients achieve their external image goals.
This viewpoint has even deeper meaning for me as a Christian woman. In 1 Peter 3: 3-4, women are instructed not to be concerned “about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.” Instead Peter says we should “clothe (y)ourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” Again in Colossians, Paul advises us to “clothe (y)ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”. Colossians 3:12
This notion of clothing myself in attributes that are pleasing to God really appeals to me. I see that the more I desire to be a woman after God’s own heart, how I am literally being transformed from the inside out, with each passing day. That inner sweetness is more precious to me than any item hanging in my closet. And it is not something I have to strive for on my own. It happens because I desire it, pray for it, and let God’s spirit live and move in me.
As an image coach I could show women how to dress to impress, but only with the help of God (and for some the help of a good therapist), could their hurts and hang-ups be healed so they really could reflect the beauty that truly comes from within.
Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, branding coach, marketing consultant and freelance writer. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Read more of her inspirational posts on her website. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.