Appearances Do Matter

by Maud Purcell

On a weekly if not a daily basis people share with me one of their deepest, darkest secrets:  that they dislike their appearance or some aspect of it.


The old adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is often true. In reality, however, we humans regularly, automatically and often subconsciously, make assumptions about others based upon appearance.  In fact, a discriminating eye is probably one of many human traits that helped us to survive and develop, eons ago.


Concerns about our physical appearance take center stage, especially with that job interview or first date. Often we become so focused on real or perceived physical flaws that our apparent lack of confidence costs us the job or a second date.


Truth be told everyone dislikes some aspect of how they look, and self-confidence doesn’t develop without effort.  Especially during difficult transitions, doing all we can to feel good about how we look can give us the boost we need to tackle the challenges ahead. My years of experience have taught me the importance of feeling good about one’s physical appearance. No one can provide a “one size fits all” approach to improving your appearance but here are some things to consider:


  1. Stand in front of the mirror and take a good, hard, look.  Notice all the things you already like about your appearance and write them down.  On a “bad hair day” review your list in order to remind yourself what you’ve already got going for you.

  2. As you take a dispassionate look in that mirror note what you wish were different and write these things down. Now divide your list into the things you can and can’t change.

  3. There’s no sense fretting over the things you can’t change such as your fundamental body structure, height or the shape of your face.

  4. Now focus your energies on the things that you can change, e.g. your hair color and style, or those extras pounds.  Put together an action plan and considering budgetary and time constraints, put at the top of your list those changes that will give you “the biggest bang for your buck”.  Here are some suggestions:


  • An inexpensive but hugely helpful step is to engage the services of a style consultant; someone who can revamp your wardrobe (using what your already own) to create an entirely new look for you.  I consider this single step such an important game-changer that I have a style consultant working closely with me.

  • Exercise of any kind will not only help the way you look on the outside but will create endorphins – those feel-good hormones that lift your mood and help you feel ready to tackle the day.

  • Acting as if you feel confident about how you look, otherwise known as “fake it until you make it”, doesn’t cost a dime and is something you can implement right now.  One of my more memorable patients was left with only one eye and an all-too-visible scar down the side of her face following a car accident.  With practice she learned to carry herself as if she were the best-looking woman in the room and I’ll be darned if it didn’t work!  If Candace could do it so can you.  Stand up straight, look people directly in the eye, be quick to laugh, develop a firm handshake, and start conversations as if you actually have the courage to do so.


In short, we have to live life as it is; not as we wish it were. Therefore each of us must come to terms with the fact that as shallow as it may seem, first impressions do matter.  And as a professional who helps people to improve their “insides” this is a risky admission to make!

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