Recently, I was fortunate enough to participate in an amazing art project with photographer Becky Yee. Her concept for Women in Color is to allow women to show who they really are underneath and inside. Hello – I mean this is SO inline with my Hurray Kimmay mission of saying hurray inside, outside, and underneath. However, this felt like such a vulnerable thing to do. Not just because I was posing in my underwear, but because instead of posing for the camera, Becky really captured the intimate moment of revealing my true self. It was an interesting shoot, and it got me thinking…
Have you ever heard someone say “When she finally let her true colors show…”? This is usually followed by something surprising, or negative. Maybe this person has been wearing a false mask of kindness or cooperation, and her “true colors” are that she is selfish, conniving, or hurtful. So dramatic, right?
But I’m convinced that we have a tendency to hide our true colors more often than this one negative and melodramatic example. In fact, I think we sometimes hide the beautiful attributes of our personalities more often than we realize in order to show what we think people want to see. The good, the bad, the imperfect, the silly – these are just some of the various colors that make up who we are. Your shade of silly may be different than my shade of silly. You may have a heavy dose of a talkative color. Your true self may paint with broad strokes of compassion. Maybe your color is the color of love. There’s most likely a tint of worry or fear in there, too. And we’ve all got our own shade of imperfection. That’s a normal part of every human being’s color kit.
In the end, these colors make us who we are. And we can consciously choose which colors to reveal to whom, and what beautiful work of art of ourselves we show to each person we meet. For instance, my husband has seen many many many of my colors. He’s seen some pretty disturbing, ugly colors. He’s seen vulnerable, soft, watery colors. He’s seen my most excited and passionate colors. I’ve revealed pretty much every color to him over our (almost) ten years together. He’s even seen these shades evolve, layer, and slightly change, as I aged through my twenties – and he loves me for it.
On the contrary, a person I’ve just met is seeing just a sample of the colors in my artist’s kit. And in every situation, we can paint with our true colors (cue Cyndi Lauper), or we can falsely combine colors and create a work of art that we think people want to see. Maybe we are a Monet and we think they want The Mona Lisa. Or perhaps today we’re feeling like a Jackson Pollack but we don’t want to appear messy, so we try our damndest to create a Degas. How exhausting to paint something you’re not! I know from experience. I did this very thing for many years when I tried to be someone I wasn’t in order to impress other people.
My goal, and one that I hope to encourage you to do, is to ask yourself: in whatever I do, and whomever I meet, how can I show my true colors? This can be tricky, right? Because it may be a little odd to show a new work contact, or the cashier at a shop my deepest shade of blue today. Right? So here’s what I suggest: pick your primary colors. These colors are actually the attributes or values that are you at the core. They are the tint that washes over almost every other color in your artist’s kit. They are you, no matter what.
My primary colors are:
- I am funny, friendly, and vibrant. I have my serious moments, but I’d be faking it if I were serious and buttoned up all of the time. I spent too long going down that road to prove that I was smart and professional, and realized I didn’t have to paint with those false colors to prove anything to anyone. I was afraid someone would think I’m too girly or quirky, but now I know they may just have to get to know me a bit more to see those professional, smart, driven colors later on.
- I am helpful, heart centered, and compassionate. I truly want to help women say hurray inside, outside, and underneath. I want to change the conversation women are having with their bodies, and the way men talk about their bodies. And that starts with me.
- I am capable – and imperfect, growing, and learning all the time. I used to try to paint with a know-it-all and do-it-all color. But truly, surrendering to the journey unfolding before me, and being honest about my own limitations and growth potential is a far more flattering color, because it’s truly me.
Totally ripping down the Mona Lisa you’ve been showing and starting with a fresh, blank canvas can feel a little overwhelming. I completely understand. Think of this as a journey, a layering, a revealing. Here are a few ways to dip your artist’s brush into finding, defining, and testing out your primary colors.
- Journal and free write – you’ll be surprised what comes up when you slow down, and write it out of you. Try to free yourself from judgment, and let whatever bubbles up get from your heart to the paper.
- Meditation or visualization – I am often shocked at what comes up when I dive deep and let my inner self reveal to me. This is probably my most favorite way to explore my colors, and a huge reason that I host monthly Wild Woman Circles.
- Ask those closest to you – if you asked your friends, loved ones, or co-workers to describe you in a few words, what would they say? You can guess, or you can actually ask. For an acting class and business exercise, I actually sent out a survey asking people this very question, and I let them answer anonymously in a Google form. It was sooo insightful to see the colors I was showing, and how it compared to what I thought I was showing.
- Ask your “younger” self – who were you before you added on the false layers, the masks, and the Mona Lisa paint?
Two easy ways to reveal:
- Underneath: Lingerie and underwear – I can’t say enough how I think lingerie is a beautiful way to experiment with your true colors. In my interview with Jeanna Kadlec, founder of Bluestockings Boutique, she touches on this very topic. Her life as an academic was very buttoned up, and she was able to explore her new found queer-ness, and true colors safely under her clothes, without having to let the whole world see before she was ready.
- Outside: Clothing and style – Now if you DO want to show the world your colors, fashion is another favorite way to do it! One of the best compliments I’ve ever received was when I was told “I can tell who you and your brand are right away, just by looking at you.” I was wearing a super colorful striped DVF coat, a bright pink scarf, funky Warby Parker classes, gold polka dot Kate Spade shoes, and a gray cat ear winter hat. Yep – you can totally tell who I am through my clothes!
Revealing your true colors comes down to your integrity. Staying true to you and your colors is the goal. And every time you do, you are building your integrity, to both yourself and to others. I was told that when you break your integrity, it’s an energy drain. I know this is true, because if you ever followed through on something you would do, don’t you feel good and more energetic? I do! And the opposite is true when you don’t follow through. Whether it’s breaking a date with yourself and the yoga mat, failing to meet the project deadline for your boss, or acting like the buttoned up lady to get ahead at the office while stifling your inner rockstar goddess – staying true to you and your word will always feel better in the long run.
I am vibrant, and my colors are very saturated. I am embracing my full spectrum of colors and learning to love each one, and let it show a little more every day. I wish the same for you.
What are your primary colors? How can you choose to start revealing them? What painting are you showing the world? Share with me here, or send me a tweet @hurraykimmay.
A note on photo shopping: I don’t do it 🙂 That means I don’t airbrush or alter my body. It’s important to me to show my true colors – and that means my real body. Seeing real bodies when I started as a bra fitter in 2005 completely changed my relationship with my body, and I’m on a journey to help other women do the same, and create a loving relationship with their bodies.
The lace bralette and panty in these images were provided by Undies.com to the photographer. This is not a sponsored post 🙂