Gok Wan…on fashion and body confidence!
I had the incredibly privilege of attending the Gok Wan body confidence event in Birmingham last weekend. He was just as charming, kind, funny and generous as you would expect him to be. He also swears like a sailer! But in typical Gok fashion, he asked if this would offend anyone and when no one raised their hand, he volunteered to donate £1 for every swear word he used to one of the charities represented at the event. He also used the event as an opportunity to promote the British high street and intentionally made sure that all of the clothing featured in the fashion show were from small high street boutiques local to the area.
Everyone I spoke to at the event (and who commented on my pictures afterwards on Facebook) said they love Gok. So do I (even though I’ve only seen him on TV a few times). And by the end of the event, I left feeling absolutely fabulous about myself and I think everyone else in the room felt the same way. I’m trying to figure out his secret and how he does this.
I think the key was his overall attitude of acceptance.
He complimented every single women he spoke to or who asked a question during the event. He also made sure that each woman in the fashion show represented a different shape, size and ethnicity. He had a very empowering message about fashion in general. He said that other people have dictated to women for far too long, what they are and are not allowed to wear and that it is high time we start taking back some of our power. Fashion (and how we present ourselves to the world) is just one way we can do this because it is something which is 100% within our control. He was also really clear throughout the event that nothing about us needs to change, and that it is far more important to focus on the fact that we are mothers, sisters, daughters, coworkers, and friends versus what our bodies looks like. He believes that self-esteem comes from being grateful for all of the things our bodies can do and that we shouldn’t try to hide anything that we’ve been given. His only rule is to wear whatever you like as long as it makes you happy!
I’ve overheard so many women say that they never look at themselves in the mirror.
Gok believes that to be truly body confident, you NEED to look at yourself naked in the mirror. You need to identify which parts are your greatest assets so that you can be proud of them and show them off. You are then free to put clothing with prints or metallics in these areas to draw more attention to them. Looking in the mirror will also help you identify which parts of your body need more support. Note: he was really clear that there is no part of you which needs to change, but there might be some parts which would benefit from extra support. His solution for “support” is shape wear. But if you’ve tried shape wear and found it either cut off circulation in your legs or you experienced a bit of spillover from the top, both are really big clues that you bought the wrong size. Shape wear sizes are apparently not the same as clothing sizes, so you may need to buy shape wear 1-2 sizes bigger than your clothing size to get the best fit. Remember, the goal with shape wear is to smooth out your silhouette, not to change your body.
Gok was also really clear about the importance of wearing a bra which fits properly.
Apparently 95% of women wear the wrong sized bra! Most tops are designed to have the bust dart in one certain place. If your bra doesn’t fit right, your bust won’t line up with this dart in the clothing and so the piece won’t hang properly and won’t look very nice. If you are bigger than a C-cup, he said you need to be wearing a bra with an underwire. That underwire should be flush against your body with no gap between the underwire and the bottom of your breast. You also shouldn’t be able to lift the bra straps up off your shoulder more than an inch. He also made a comment about the bra hooks which I had never heard before. Apparently, you should buy a bra so that you can only do up the outside set of hooks. After the first 10 washings, you should move to the middle row of hooks. And after 25 washings, you move to the inside row of hooks. The bra shouldn’t stretch any more after that.
Several of the women I spoke to at the event said they really lack in self-confidence.
Many said they refuse to try on anything in the store (including shoes) and would much rather take items home and try them on there. They find the shops too intimidating which I found interesting. Several said they give off a persona of being really confident at work but this isn’t who they really are. Others said they used to be confident when they were younger and have lost confidence since having children. Still others said they were really struggling to come to terms with the inevitable body changes that come with age – wrinkles, sagging eyelids, skin changes, etc, and that what they see in the mirror often doesn’t match what they feel inside. A few said they were surrounded by women at work who are obsessed with their appearance, getting Botox, etc and this made them feel even more self-conscious. I can well imagine how phenomenally difficult it would be to feel good about yourself if you are bombarded with those kind of messages day after day (even if they aren’t directed at you).
So I guess the take home message is this…how we feel about ourselves is up to us.
We ultimately control how we present ourselves to the world and we need to be really careful about who we surround ourselves with and the messages they give us. Because I can tell you from first hand experience, that it really does change how you feel about yourself when you are surrounded with 300 women who are all empowered and feel really great about themselves!