Last night, I received an email from a woman I’ve never met before in my life. As far as I know, she and I have never even corresponded virtually, so her communication was that much more confusing. I deleted the email almost as soon as I read it, so I’ll have to paraphrase the gist of it here.
Rosetta – I think you could use this advice. I would never hire you to speak because you look very unprofessional in the photos on your website. Your skin looks ashy. I like natural hair, but yours looks unkempt.
You need a power suit. Would you really show up at a corporate event in that multi-colored skirt or is this just the standard for nonprofits??? Honey, you need a stylist.
And then, she signs her name to this nonsense, including her contact information as the CEO of a staffing agency in Beverly Hills, CA. Really? I’d hate to see how her business is doing if this is how she spends her time.
There’s a lot I can say (and could have said to her directly) about this email, mainly that 1) I would never want to be hired by this person to do anything ever and 2) I love the “unkempt” look of my hair, which is kinda why I wear it that way and 3) Even if I did hire a stylist, you’d never see me in a “power suit” because I hate suits. I don’t even know what to say about the ashy part except WTF.
But the real lesson in this exchange came through the feelings it brought up for me. As soon as I read it, I felt a surge of adrenaline and a string of curse words began forming in my mind. Mind you, I rarely get angry anymore but I have to admit that my first thought was:
Who does this b***h think she is?
It took me a few minutes to realize that on the other side of the country, there was a random stranger on the internet asking the exact same thing about me.
Who does this b***h think she is…marketing herself as a speaker? Who is she to promote herself online, especially looking like that? Why does she think she’s worthy of a successful business when she doesn’t even look the part?
It’s easy to forget the truth that some women derive a sense of confidence from comparing themselves to other women they deem inferior.
In fact, some women will be triggered by your very presence.
When you look back and observe your own behavior, you will see that you’ve done this before in some form. I know I have in the past and I’m not proud of it. You see a public figure or celebrity or successful businesswoman and start snarking on her looks and behavior.
Who is she to have money and fame and power and happiness when she looks/talks/acts like that? And why haven’t I achieved that level of success in my life yet when I’m just as talented/pretty/ambitious as she is?
It’s hard enough for women, especially black women, to put ourselves out there in the first place without the verbal abuse we throw at each other. I get enough emails and work with enough coaching clients to know that this is true. In my own life and business, I struggle with forging my own path, promoting myself and offering my services to the people who might need them. In the back of my mind is always the question:
Am I worthy? Is what I have to offer good enough? Do I really deserve this life?
It’s in those moments of self-doubt, even in the midst of adversity that I can hear that still, small voice rise up in my heart to answer:
Yes. Yes you are. That’s why I put you here.
That knowing is what gives me the peace to immediately delete any messages I receive that do not add to my life and work. You’ll never find any flame wars on my blog, Twitter beef or drama on my Facebook page. Of course, I enjoy honest discussion and I appreciate hearing constructive criticism from friends, family, colleagues, clients and others that know who I am and what my work is about. But random strangers on the internet telling me how I should dress and wear my hair? Not worth the back-and-forth exchange. (I mean, what did she think I was gonna reply? “Thanks for the feedback on my appearance, I’ll try to change it for you?”)
Before you judge someone who’s actually making that leap to walk in their purpose, take a moment to think about why their appearance or behavior is triggering you. If you’re honest with yourself, it’s probably because you want to be doing more with your own life and feel frustrated about that.
And before you rush to respond to someone who’s judging you, get centered in compassion so you can remember that they’re coming from a place of lack and projecting that onto you. Understand that their discomfort with your presence is not your problem.
Then press “delete.”