The Red Dress Effect

I moved to London with very specific goals in mind. I wanted to become the person I always wanted to be. Being in a new place with completely new people and new places to explore I had the opportunity to be someone new. Don’t get me wrong while in ways it’s been successful, I still have a long way to go. I have however learnt that if I was to become this “super” version of myself I would be extremely unhappy and not myself at all.

I have noticed since moving to London how my views, likes and interests have changed vastly. Before moving here, I detested shorter hair. I spent years feeling down and self-conscious about my own hair after a moronic hairdresser cut my hair off and left it battered and destroyed. I would complain to anyone who would listen and tried every conceivable concoction to make it grow.

So, you can imagine my Australian friend’s reactions after they heard about my first few days in London. I was walking through Mayfair, I stopped at a hairdresser enquiring about shampoo and the next second I walked out with short hair.

So why this sudden change of heart? Well quite simply, no one knew me as someone who used to have long hair. I didn’t have to tell anyone I had cut my hair off. No one could make a comment how they preferred me with longer hair or ask me “is your hair shorter?” For all, they knew this was my hair length and it always had been.

I realised that by doing this big move I had the chance to start fresh and oddly enough I started to look and feel like myself again. As no one here really knew about my previous hair ordeal or my big chop no one made a comment. That was until I was on a date. Out of nowhere the guy complimented me on how nice and healthy my hair looked, citing it “was the perfect” length – marry me, sir. I hadn’t felt that good or confident about my appearance in a while.  I know anyone reading this might go, it’s only your hair? Yes, but it was an insecurity, and whether we like it or not sometimes one comment on an insignificant insecurity can change a person’s outlook altogether.

In the months following my hair cut I have had no choice other than to grow more confident with my appearance. Originally being petrified of a green screen I had to face my fear and get in front of one. My mind set throughout the entire time was if I could learn to love my voice on the radio I could learn to love seeing myself on TV- not so much the case but I have got up and done two broadcasts to date.

Then comes personality changes. One thing I really wanted to do in London was adopt personality traits or mannerisms that would make me a happier person. Ultimately dropping the ones that made me unhappy and slightly miserable at times. This includes letting things go rather than dwelling on them, holding my tongue as it usually gets me in trouble and learning to value the importance of silence.

This is where the red dress effect comes in. It dawned on me that how I wanted to start approaching situations is similar to a red dress.  A red dress has the power to captivate without saying anything, it is loud without screaming and when called upon or admired, its elegance always shines through. I am attempting to reimage myself as a red dress. Instead of having an opinion on everything or a story to contribute to every conservation I’m learning to hold my tongue. It’s in these situations that I have found my opinion to be far greater appreciated when I have waited and inputted with substance. As well as this learning to carry myself with poise and humility, forms a far greater appreciation from the people around than asserting myself through a booming voice. I won’t get too ahead of myself, I’m still a work in progress.

But  I have learnt through trial and error that one cannot truly change themselves to be a completely different person and still be happy.  I have discovered the key is to embrace your strengths and use them to your advantage to help you combat your weaknesses or things you want to improve. It’s one thing to acknowledge this and another thing to put it into practice.

So wish me luck!

– M

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