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Is What You’re Wearing Too Revealing?

Is What You’re Wearing Too Revealing?
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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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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