Category Archives: Self-image

Are You Dancing at the Shame Prom?

Twenty seven courageous women write about their dance in the moving compilation of personal stories that is Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small. Some of the stories made me laugh; some made me cry. All of them moved me.

How, I wondered, could some of these women have survived such abuse? Could I move on from seal abuse passed off as “God’s will?” What would me life have become if my alcoholic grandfather had escheated from verbal abuse to physical? If he had poured a jar of sauerkraut over my head? These were powerful tales of survival. Some shocked me; some made me cringe.

Other stories were much lighter. I laughed at one woman’s revelation of what happened in the sandbox. I smiled in understanding as I read about the beautiful but dumb boyfriend. Some seemed beyond my understanding. I will never truly understand what it is to be biracial, but the story reminded me of what it was like to be excluded for not being Jewish enough or Italian enough or Waspy enough. There are so many ways to not quite fit and you too are likely to find emotional connections to stories that are outside your life experience.

Sometimes, it was hard to not be a little judgmental – is that really a shameful experience, I asked myself a few times. It is in these stories, though, that I found the greatest learning. I had no problem relating to the body dysmorphia shame stories, but I had a hard time seeing frizzy/curly hair as a cause for shame. Of course, I must admit I have plenty of body issues of my own but happen to really love my hair, so that has something to do with it.

So, it was a surprise to find that the hair story was one that had a strong impact on me. Every time I have recommended this wonderful book to friends, I’ve mentioned that story. I love the author’s act of courage – jumping into a pool because she promised her daughters she would and emerging with no further though about how her hair looked. Don’t go with my oversimplification – read the whole story. Read the whole book. Share it. Buy it for your friends.

Finally, think about your own participation at the shame prom. Are you a wallflower? Are you pretending you weren’t there at all? Or are you ready to speak up, own your shame and move on? I want to be as brave as these women. What about you?

When You Speak, Does Everyone Listen? WoW Robyn Hatcher Has the Secret

When I met Robyn, I was immediately taken with how confident and self-assured she is, so I was surprised to discover that her childhood nickname was “Shy.” You’d never know this. And, to me, that’s the mark of someone who really understands not only the difficulties all of us shy folk face, but really knows how to turn a wallflower into the belle of the ball. As Robyn says,

Because of my intimate knowledge with being shy and knowing what it’s like to feel unable to grab the spotlight, I have become extremely passionate about empowering others to uncover and unleash their inner “Star power.”

Robyn broke through years of silence in a big way when she auditioned for a play her freshman year in high school. She channeled years of pent up frustration into a two-minute monologue about a fictitious break up, unconsciously using a well-known acting technique. She got the role and it changed her life.

Robyn has been a professional actor for more than twenty years now, but she hasn’t limited herself to one profession. She has a thriving communications consulting practice, she’s teaching at Baruch and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She’s a trainer and curriculum developer, a speaker (there may still be time to join her at Women at Woodstock) and an author. You can read her chapter in the very powerful and moving Dancing at the Shame Prom, a book I just couldn’t put down.

Many actors report being shy people off stage and live reclusive private lives. Many of them are in pain and choose to remain that way. Robyn has used that pain to forge a very different life of service to people who just can’t seem to express themselves. She doesn’t expect her clients to follow her path; she does expect them to learn how to be comfortable in their own skins.

You don’t have to become an actor, or even a professional public speaker, but learning to be a more powerful communicator will make you a better boss, colleague, partner, parent, friend and individual.

It’s easy to get to know Robyn a bit better. Read her blog, Communication Inspirations, and check out her website, Speaketc. Oh – and check out the stands at the Cincinnati Reds games next year to catch Robyn cheering on her Yale student/pro ball playing son.

WoW – Reclaim Your Body: Follow Elaine Morales from Cellar to Stage

Like so many work-at-home Moms, Elaine took care of her business, her husband, her kids – but not herself. She loved everything about her life except how she felt and what she saw when she looked in the mirror. The effects of spending hours in sloppy sweats in her basement office led to “this kind of malaise … dealing with it with this long term emotional overeating and kind of closet eating sugar addiction that led me to not be happy with my body and to have tremendous moods and GI problems.”

She knew she had to change, “And so, I attacked it by buckling down with nutrition and an exercise program and deciding to make that part of my life and just getting it done.”

Now, don’t get the idea that Elaine was a natural athlete who had just temporarily stepped away from the gym. No – she had flunked gym in high school. But she was determined. And, in the process, she made an interesting discovery.

As she tells it,
“I got stronger in the gym and I started to really have the chance to get to know myself again. And to see myself in a new way and to gain an inner strength and really get to know myself. And, suddenly, it occurred to me, this is not just about my muffin top. This is about connecting to who I am, what are my values, how do I live out my values I all areas of my life and how do I challenge myself to go beyond my limits? And I – and also in taking care of myself – getting stronger and getting healthier with good nutrition – I felt like a gazillion bucks and all kinds of health problems I had cleared up. My mood improved – all kinds of wonderful, wonderful side effects, and I just thought, if I could bottle this up and sell it, I’d be a gazillionaire.”

Well, Elaine didn’t figure out how to bottle her results, but she has learned how to share them. She received my training as a Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s cutting-edge Health Coach Training Program and studied dietary theories, practical lifestyle management techniques, and innovative coaching methods with some of the world’s top health and wellness experts, including Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Katz, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at Harvard University, and Geneen Roth, bestselling author and expert on emotional eating.

Oh – and along the way, Elaine became a competitive body builder. As she describes it, “I was really enjoying the changes in my body and I felt so empowered in the gym and by getting stronger. And one of my mentors said, did you ever think of competing? I loved the training. The hardest part for me was going from sweats in the basement, no makeup, married for almost 20 years, and putting myself out in public in essentially a crystal bikini, five inch stiletto heels, and drag queen makeup – getting up there on stage with barely any clothes on. That was just – that was TOTALLY out of my comfort zone.”

Elaine won’t ask you to get into full competition get-up; she will help you come to terms with your relationship with food. You can find out about her individual coaching and workshops here. You can also read more about Elaine on and

Why is Elaine the Woman of the Week? Because she understands that fitness and wellness begin in the mind. Because she was so excited about her self-discovery that she knew she was called to share it. And, finally, because she got the training and did the research to be of service to her clients. She knows that everything she suggests works and she can tell you exactly why!

Thou Shalt Be Awesome and 9 More Commandments For Mid-career Woman Who Want to Get Noticed

Feeling a little lost in the crowd? Need a little juice to revive your flagging career?  Here are ten commandments to jump-start your engine:

1. Be awesome! Remind yourself of how terrific you are. And while you’re at it, remind other people from time to time.  If you’re not feeling it, make a list of your accomplishments and read it every day. You’re proud of your accomplishments, aren’t you? You don’t need to boast, but from time to time, you can mention your achievements. Remember, what you project is what people believe and remember.

2. Smile. Often. Nod to strangers in the hallways. This projects confidence and well-being.

3. Help someone. There’s no better way to keep your skills sharp and get the added perk of building a band of loyal supporters. Go back and re-read Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time if you’ve forgotten the value of helping others and looking for nothing in return.

4. Learn something new. What’s going on in your industry? Are you keeping up with trends? Stay fresh.

5. Attend a seminar or workshop. You don’t even have to leave your desk to access a webinar. Training keeps your skills sharp and broadens your perspective.

6. Talk to strangers. Network. Find out what other people in your organization are doing. Find out what other people in your industry find exciting. Share what excites you, too.

7. Update your look. When was the last time you went through your wardrobe? Does everything fit properly? Is everything neat, clean, and in good repair? You can create a whole new image with a few inexpensive changes. Someone like Susan Sommers can teach you how to shop your own closet. You can even have a swap party with your friends to get a couple of fresh looks for nothing.

8. Get organized. Cleaning out your files not only creates more space but often leads to treasures that you’ve stashed away to read later.

9. Mentor someone. Helping someone else move up the career ladder has many benefits for you. It makes you more visible. It earns you yet another loyal follower. It also helps you revisit and renew your own skills. Finally, it helps build your reputation as a star maker. 

10. Speak up! Ask for what you want. Your boss isn’t a mind reader. If you want something more, or something different,  be sure someone knows!