Written by: Lindsay Rae D'ottavio, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Very simply put, body image directly ties into corporate culture because if a person, in particular - a woman, feels safe and secure in their body and not guarded against predatory (or racist/bigoted) behavior, they can perform their executive function more efficiently.
As Ruth Ginsberg says, "women belong wherever decisions are made." This means as women, we require safe, respectful, and inclusive workspaces so our voices can continue to be where they count most. Get rid of corporate dress codes. If companies can hire professionals, they should trust the professionals to dress themselves as needed to get the job done right. Dress codes far more often target curvier women and minority women. While we are on the topic of inclusivity related to body image, build habits of referring to your colleagues, friends, and families by their pronouns. It is an easy kindness to bestow upon someone that shows value in their humanity.
My work revolves around dissecting and shedding light on how unrealistic body expectations are deeply ingrained in our society. Through the women I have met in my photography business, I can say with 100% certainty that negative body image impacts our collective social and economic growth.
Human feelings just cannot be turned on and off, nor can they be left in the parking lot when you get to work or cast aside from only the hours of 9-5...That is just not how the brain operates when it comes to genuine emotion.
While most of the time this will happen subconsciously, body image follows us into work. It can affect our confidence, ability to bond with co-workers and directly impact sales averages.
"The mistake that organizations often make is only thinking about the mental health issues that are caused by work, rather than the issues that people bring to work" – Steffi Maranan
A study on LinkedIn showed that women viewed as ‘overweight’ are paid $8,666 less per year than their more slender female counterparts. Another study done for the 2016 Eating Disorders Awareness Week survey shows 30% of participants reported feeling discriminated against or stigmatized because of their eating habits at work.
I personally remember the days when I would sit in my car and eat alone for fear of being judged by co-workers for my food choices.
I remember not volunteering for opportunities I was qualified for because I was convinced a fat girl could never be viewed with the same respect as my stiletto-wearing, size 4, office besties. In tandem, I remember how powerful I felt walking into a conference room meeting when I got my first suit jacket, fitted to my bigger body, paired with 4" brown heeled loafers.
I do not miss being so uncomfortable in a cubicle that I could not focus. My Spanx, which I needed to wear to hide any visible signs that I am a real living human being, would roll and dig into my belly. Rather than picking up the phone and closing business, I was counting the minutes until I could get home, rip off my shapewear and breathe.
I often look back at my time in sales and wonder how much more money I would have made if I could be comfortable in my clothing beyond that imagine if I was comfortable and confident.
Confidence is the key to sales and closing business, 2nd only to authenticity.
According to Scientific American, "What you wear can influence your thinking and negotiating skills, and even hormone levels and heart rate. The old advice to dress for the job you want, not the job you have, may have roots in more than simply how others perceive you — many studies show that the clothes you wear can affect your mental and physical performance."
Positive body image ties directly into self-esteem, ambition, confidence, and success.
If you’re spending most of your time focused on how you feel discomfort inside your own body, you’re not using your energy to focus on work or closing sales.
The Body Image Distraction can have you missing buying cues from potential clients.
Here are a few challenges and practices I recommend implementing on an individual basis for sky-high confidence:
Post a no-makeup selfie to your social media with the hashtag #confidencechallenge.
Film a selfie video clip introducing yourself and what you do.
Try a No Apology Day. See if you can go a full day without apologizing for unnecessary things.
Find and follow 10 diverse body accounts who are successful in business on different social media platforms.
Put on a swimsuit and stand in front of the mirror and actually look at yourself with the same kindness you would look at a friend's body with.
Handwrite a week's worth of affirmations on sticky notes and stick them on your mirror. Each day take one off and take it with you as a positive reminder throughout your day.
"18% of people who are extremely or very proud of their body report that their average household income is $150,000 or more, which is higher than in any other income bracket. And the majority of people who report an average household income of $25,000-$49,000 say they’re only slightly or not at all proud of their body (56%).
Also, when it comes to a raise or promotion, 54% of those at least moderately proud of their body have received a raise or promotion in the past year, compared with 46% of those who aren’t proud of their body. – Lisa Himmel on a SurveyMonkey survey of over 300 employed individuals.
When corporations begin to have human values, their bottom line will be impacted. Mental health and positive body image in the office are not just a frufru topic for the sake of appeasing internet trolls. It directly correlates to confidence which leads to increased productivity and higher sales averages.
Lindsay Rae D'ottavio, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Internationally published and multi-award-winning photographer, including First Place Professional Boudoir for RangeFinders first Celebrate the Body, Lindsay owns and operates Self Love Experience out of Troy, NY. Lindsay's work has been published in The Times Union, Shutterbug Magazine, Period Magazine, Voltron Magazine, Philosophie Magazine, Surreal Beauty Magazine, Ellements Magazine and LiBAREator Magazine and many more. With a focus on helping women overcome negative body image and body insecurity, her sessions are as much about the experience she gives her clients as the final art they receive. Lindsay believes in the power of print and has a mission to provide all of her clients with large art pieces to hang in their homes.
Stemming from a very difficult upbringing with a family on welfare to building a multiple six-figure business selling her art in NY, Lindsay's focus is self-love, self-confrontation, overcoming body insecurity and seeing yourself as more than scars of your past.
Society tells women that we have to fit into this tiny narrow-minded mold of what is considered beautiful.
Lindsay believes confidence in the skin you are in trickles into every aspect and relationship in your life and she gives women permission to feel beautiful exactly as they are.