Would you leave the house in a new pair of pants that your friend said made you look fat? Could you still feel confident sporting a new hairstyle if your partner said they hated it? Why is it so hard to trust our own opinions and more importantly, why are we constantly seeking approval from other people? When someone comes into the salon and requests a major style change, I know that no matter how cute they think it is when they leave the shop, they won’t really know if they love it until their family and friends approve it. Making a decision to try a new style, wear a different fashion trend, or make a lifestyle change takes a lot of courage and we should be applauded for taking the risk. Are you strong enough to trust your own opinion instead of someone else’s, and to focus on trying to please yourself?
I remember when I was a teenage girl, my mom would come home from the mall with a new outfit and ask me what I thought of it. If I liked it she was pleased, but if I didn’t like it her feelings would be hurt. Tired of feeling like a jerk, I asked her one day, “Why do you keep asking me for my opinion if you don’t really want to hear it?” She thought about it a bit and then replied, “I guess I was hoping you would say that you liked it too.” She wasn’t really searching for my opinion, instead she was looking for approval with a verbal “thumbs up”. I think we both learned a good lesson that day: Be careful what you say, and be careful what you ask!
I want to share one of my least favorite experiences as a hairstylist, but I don’t want you to judge the characters involved. It is a story that illustrates, very sharply, the power of words and opinions. It involves a beautiful young girl who came in for a haircut and made a bold decision to cut off her long, brown hair. After I had finished with the cut the young woman looked at herself in the mirror and smiled radiantly. She loved it! Soon after, her mother came in to pick her up and to pay for the cut. She took one look at her daughter and grew red with anger. “You cut your hair?!” She said bluntly. “Why would you do that? You look terrible!” My heart broke, and so did the beautiful young girls’. In an instant, the glowing confidence she had found was destroyed by a thoughtless comment from her own mother. In the years that followed I would see the girl around town and I noticed that she had grown her hair long again. Maybe she had chose to believe what her mother had told her that day, instead of what she had thought to be true when she first saw her reflection. I cannot condemn her mother because I have caught myself carelessly sharing my opinion plenty of times. I’m not proud of it, but I am human, and I have definitely hurt my loved ones’ feelings with my words.
I think it’s important for everyone to remember that if someone doesn’t like your new look, your new outfit, or the change you’ve initiated, that’s their problem and not yours! You never really know why people have strong feelings about one thing or another and sometimes, they don’t even mean what they said. Maybe the friend that said you looked fat, felt insecure when she saw how hot you looked in those new pants. Maybe your partner hates your new look because it makes them feel threatened, because now you look more modern and confident. Maybe the Mother who didn’t like her daughter’s short hair had been forced to cut her own hair short as a child and remembered how terrible she thought she looked. Who knows for sure? The point is, they are probably relating your inquiry to themselves first and may not be able to see past that enough to give you what you’re looking for.
I’m not suggesting that you should never ask people their opinions. I’m merely pointing out that you should carefully choose the people who’s words you allow to get in the way of you pleasing yourself. That old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a lie! Words do hurt, so the next time you get an unwanted opinion consider the source and what they might be dealing with in their own minds. Then decide if you will place more importance on their thoughts about beauty, fashion, or lifestyle, than you do your own. Try to be a good example of this empowerment to others too. You may have little ones, like I do, who are watching your every move. They will be learning how they should treat themselves, and whose opinions should be most important in their lives. Have the courage to trust yourself and your own opinion! After all, you are really the only one who knows what is best for you and you are the one who has to live with it, not them!