Image is Everything

Do you care about what others think of you?

I do. Sometimes I don’t care at all because I’m at the gym to get my cardio done and mascara and my version of cardio don’t mix well.┬áSometimes I care too much (like during junior high and high school, and when I’m around a group of people I don’t know well). Maybe it was all that great training I got in high school – poms, speech team, student council and the school newspaper. You learn about image and presenting yourself well. You learn about diction, eye contact and presence. You learn that even if you don’t care what other people think of you those people are forming opinions about you.

This weekend I’m headed off to Ohio to spend the weekend with some amazing InterVarsity students and staff to talk with and learn from one another about God, Jesus, faith, culture, ethnicity and identity. I cannot say this enough. I love my job.

We will be talking about image – what we think of ourselves and perhaps what others think of us. My hope is that we will be honest with ourselves and with one another.

So I’ll be honest. The worst part of public speaking isn’t the public speaking (even if it can feel as vulnerable as standing on stage with nothing on but your underwear). It’s packing for speaking gigs. Yup. Stupid? Yes. No. Maybe. Packing unnerves me because I want to project just the right vibe – accessible, warm, engaging, cool, but not trying-too-hard-to-be-cool cool, fashionable but not in a materialistic way, intelligent, prepared and wise but not old. That is a lot of for an outfit to do, right? And knowing that about myself makes me feel vain and foolish.

Where is the middle or appropriate ground when dealing with the way we look and present ourselves? I feel like it’s particularly dicey for women, and there additional issues for women of color. What do you worry about when it comes to your image and where or how do you draw the line?