The following article was published with gracious permission of the author.
I am a woman, I am 33 years old, I am a mom of two wonderful children, I am a business owner, I am a cancer survivor and a part-time blog writer. I spend a large part of my life trying to improve my health, body image and the way I feel. I do this with nutrition, exercise, vitamins, trying to control my stress and surrounding myself with positive energy.
I recently went to a women’s conference. This conference brought together hundreds of professional women from all over. I was impressed by the speakers and each attendee that I met. The environment was empowering, inspiring and motivating; everything you would hope from this type of event. Well, except this one experience I had while I was there.
Please allow me to share a note I sent to the people who ran the conference:
First, I want to tell you that this year was my first attending the conference. I really enjoyed all of the speakers and found them to be inspiring. I left excited and motivated to try some new things in my business.
I do have one small complaint that I feel necessary to bring to your attention. In my industry, I am often looking for sponsors who would like to have a vendor table at an event, therefore, I understand how sometimes it’s difficult to turn people down. That being said, I thought I should tell you that I don’t think the plastic surgeon should have been there. I didn’t think of it at first. My friend and I had initially walked passed his table.
Later, the plastic surgeon called us over. He asked if we were interested in trying out this cool program he had. So, out of curiosity, I agreed. He began by asking me how old I was. I answered, 33. He looked at me strangely, seemingly surprised and said, “Oh ok.” I didn’t know what he meant. Then he took pictures of my face with a 3D camera. He proceeded to put my close-up (unattractive) pictures on the computer and to point out my issues. I giggled and said I’d noticed the fine lines starting to show … He didn’t stop there, he said, “Do you like this bump on your nose?” “Do you see these crow’s feet?” “What about this hanging chin?” He told me his wife is 40 and doesn’t have lines and wrinkles and she’d started Botox at 30-something. Anyway, long story short. I left that table feeling absolutely awful about myself at a conference where everyone else was going out of their way to inspire, empower and make all of the women feel like the best versions of themselves. So, then I began analyzing the situation in my head. I’m at an empowering women’s conference and I just had a man sit here and circle on my face all my physical flaws (according to him) ….
Maybe it was his approach that was all wrong. Maybe if he’d asked me if I had any insecurities for which I was seeking a solution and then showed me how he could help, it might have been better. But I wasn’t the one to point out those flaws to him; he pointed them out to me.
I just felt that the vendors and sponsors should all align with your event’s positive and powerful message rather than contradict it.
This is just my two cents. I felt compelled to share because as wonderful as my day was and as much as I learned, the story I came home and shared with my husband and friends was this one.
So, to this man who made me feel like crap at the conference—and since this occurred, I have day-dreamed about so many ways I could have/should have handled this:
I could have pointed at each wrinkle and told you that one was from the stress of cancer, one was because I carried and delivered two human beings, and one was because I haven’t slept a full night since my daughter was born six years ago. But no, you didn’t need to hear it. Or maybe I should have thrown the water bottle I was holding at your face and told you that you might need some work now. No, that would have been crazy, I guess. I could have asked you what gave you the right to tell me what my flaws were or asked you why I should care that your 40 year-old (much younger than you) wife had no wrinkles. But I didn’t do any of these things. I got up, said, “Thank you, I’ve had enough” and walked away. I then, allowed your voice to stay in my head for the remainder of the day. The next morning, I stared in the car mirror at the lines you pointed out and, later in the day, I looked closely at my nose … the one part of me that has never really bothered me.
Not saying any of this was where I went wrong.
Farrah Gross Maliavsky. I am a mom of two amazing children. I am a wife to an extremely supportive, wonderful husband. I am a full-time business owner (www.360creativeapproach.com), a part-time employee, a blog writer and a lover of all things creative. I sometimes obsess about and overanalyze the smaller details of life, because they are often easier to think about than the larger and more important issues. I am full of useless, random knowledge, and always thrive on learning more. My blog, www.wheretheeffismyhandbook.com, is meant to keep moms laughing and feeling supported along this crazy journey.