I wrote my very first blog after I was interviewed by Dr Carolyn Mair – a well known freelance consultant specializing in the psychology of fashion.
The interview was about body image after breast cancer, and as a survivor, I was acutely aware and able to share what the impact that surgery and trauma had made on my body.
I found Dr Mair so fascinating to listen to that I attended one of her workshops on fashion and psychology. All the attendees were either psychologists or in the fashion business and so at times I felt a little out of my depth.
However, unsurprisingly, I was able to contribute to the discussions regarding body image and and my lack of breasts.
I learned that we subconsciously choose clothes in relation to how we feel – our emotions be it anger, sadness, surprise, disgust and fear influence our clothing choices.
I could relate to all these emotions at different times of my life.
A few years ago (prior to breast cancer) I bought a coat for myself. Within minutes of buying it someone said something to me that was derogatory, nasty and totally uncalled for. The comment was nothing to do with the coat but about me. I should have retorted firmly but I didn’t and instead every time I wore the coat I remembered the comment. Eventually I got rid of the coat which to this day I regret, as what I should have done is responded in a calm but firm manner to the abusive words.
Three of the ladies attending the course were stylists – being a stylist is something I have always wanted to do but I never felt I had sufficient experience and I also had no idea where to even begin.
Over lunch I chatted to one of the stylists who hinted that my lack of experience and the competition from other stylists would prove too huge a hurdle for me – one that she very much doubted I would be able to overcome.
Whilst she was talking I realized that while I may not have experience of wearing designer clothes or working in retail, I do however have a very real experience of the emotions of fear, anxiety and disgust after the various operations I have had including 2 mastectomies and decided then and there that that is what I would like to do.
Since then the idea has gone round and round in my head. I have spoken to various owners of small boutiques and they all agree that the lack of confidence and body image is a major issue after a cancer diagnosis and as much as these boutique owners would like to help their clients, they confessed that though they try to empathize, they were acutely aware that their lack of personal experience was often a barrier to truly being to understand or help in the most effective way.
Helping people to dress fashionably is not what I am about; helping people to dress from the inside out is my aim.
If you are reading this and can relate to what I have written and would like help or someone to talk to. Please feel free to contact me.
Even if you have not had a cancer diagnosis but are struggling again please feel free to contact me.