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Is What You’re Wearing Too Revealing?

Is What You’re Wearing Too Revealing?

Do you remember, as a teenager, stepping out the door in a rush to hang out with friends and then hearing your mother’s voice, “Stop right there, young lady! Are you seriously thinking of going out wearing that?” You’d resentfully change outfits, wishing the years would pass at lightning speed so you reach legal age; then, no one can tell you what to wear. Now, you find yourself missing that voice that helped you rethink your attire. People seem to misread who you are based on what you’re wearing. How do you narrow the gap between the image you’re trying to project and what others perceive? When in doubt, it’s best to tone down the revealing style . Here are 6 reasons why.

1.  You avoid unwelcome attention and dangerous encounters.

Some college girls on online forums insist, “I’m free to wear what I feel like wearing. It’s my body, it’s my life, and it’s nobody’s business.” If you think this way, you are revealing a lack of broader awareness.

Every day, you move in confined spaces with various “captive audiences,” in class, at work, in the bus, the tube, the lift, or the bar. In these spaces, people have little choice but to look at you and what you’re wearing. Some react by ogling, sneering, or throwing disapproving glances. Are you ready for such reactions?  Be aware too of how a man’s brain is wired differently. Both genders think in streams of various subjects but unlike women, men tend to focus often and intermittently on physical stuff (and I don’t mean sports.) The smallest unrelated sight or gesture can bring up vivid images and sensations.   Are you aware of the effect your clothes are having?

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On the other side of the equation, men who conclude they know where a woman is coming from based on what they’re wearing are also revealing a similar lack of awareness.

It’s extremely hard for women to dress up confidently in a contemporary way when the fashion icons are limited to Hollywood, the cat walk, and reality TV ruled by 5 dark-haired siblings  who often wear revealing clothes. Regular women face difficulties with showing up at work, in school, and performing different real-life roles wearing the “appropriate” attire. That means either corporate and conservative or sporty,quirky and edgy.  But always, they’re expected to look nice and well-groomed simply because they’re female. No wonder some women just give up and choose to wear oversize shirts and slacks for life. Are you, men, ready to hold judgment and to see beyond the physical?

2. You project a neutral image and eliminate negative impressions.

Dress up with the occasion, the location, and other people in mind. Is it a job interview? Are you representing your organization, attending a parent-teacher meeting at your child’s school, or godmother at a baby christening? These occasions call for a professional image and a degree of conservative regular-ness. Avoid tight clothes, short skirts, low necklines, and overly high heels. How you dress reflects on others too—your child, your organization, the baby’s parents/hosts; even on how your mother brought you up. Your clothes are not just about you.

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3.  It gets in the way of making friends with women.

Even when this is farthest from your mind, wearing revealing clothes could be perceived by women as flaunting your nice figure in their faces and painfully reminding them of their personal issues with body image. They may feel inadequate or inferior with you around and so, they avoid you. You may inadvertently be upstaging everyone, including your boss and the visiting female board member. It’s true these perceptions are in the eyes of the beholder but you can eliminate unnecessary friction. Don’t reveal too much of your anatomy so others see beyond your looks into your great personality.

4.  It becomes an obstacle to finding a meaningful romantic relationship.

Even when you don’t mean to project such an image, wearing revealing clothes will be seen by some men as an open invitation or a snub, depending on their degree of confidence. They will think you are a sophisticated woman who has seen it all, even when you’re actually a rather sheltered, shy female trying to appear confident. That disconnect in personality and image will attract attention from the worldly types of men and discourage the more down-to-earth, conservative ones who could be a more complementary match to your personality. Don’t make it hard to establish romantic relationships by not dressing the part.

5.  Your existing relationships are affected, negatively.

Maybe you’re already blessed with several women friends and a committed romantic relationship. That scenario presents an even more important reason to put away the revealing clothes. A revealing clothing style always attracts attention. Such attention from other men will bring out jealousy from your boyfriend and from your female friends whose boyfriends are showing you attention. Is it worth endangering relationships and friendships by showing off skin and curves?

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6.  Your career may not reach its full potential.

When assembling a work team, a woman who dresses provocatively presents a sticky situation, and I mean this in the most objective, matter-of-fact way. Even when you actually have really good interpersonal skills, others will, unfortunately, question your “wild card” effect on the team dynamics. When scouting for people to promote and lead a team, the same thinking comes up. Will a woman who dresses provocatively put across the company image of professionalism? Will she be a positive role model for others? And then when you do get promoted, there’s the tiny thought, Did she get promoted on merit?

The last decade has seen an explosion of mostly provocative fashion styles made highly visible by the narcissistic attention of social media. When you add the thinning line between work and leisure situations or official and personal  interactions, it becomes a truly difficult challenge for any woman to get the “appropriate” attire.

It’s not about allowing others’ thinking to override creative self-expression, but about knowing that who you are inside matches how you look outside.  When that’s the case, opinions will not affect your self-image or how you are regarded by the clear-thinking majority. As for the men out there, some empathy would be really appreciated.  How about putting yourselves in our shoes? With or without heels, it’s not easy.

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Featured photo credit: Gorgeous Romantic Girl Outdoors. Beautiful Model in Short Dress in Field. Long Hair Blowing in the Wind. Backlit, Warm Color Tones via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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