reflectionMany people struggle with seeing themselves as worthy because somehow they are convinced that they need someone to go before them first.  We want celebrities to come out first.  We want people in love to get married first. We want someone else to do the work.  But the truth is, especially now in this social media, smartphone accessible life that we live, WE ARE ALL THE NEW ROLE MODELS!

When you post a photograph of you and your partner or when you show yourself dressed to the 9s for your day at work, you are showing someone else that you are proud in your skin and of your own accomplishments.  When you bask in the perfect smile or swoon in a new love, it shows that life is for living and that people, just like them, are busy living and being, even when they try to keep up with the Jonesdashians.

The power and impact of imagery is multi-layered.  I remember when I was a child, in the projects of Washington, DC.  I wanted to have a different life. I knew it was possible.  I remember going to the store, which was my weekly chore, to do the grocery shopping.  While there, I saw a beautiful cover of Ebony magazine with the iconic Diahann Carroll on the cover.  Adorned in white and beautifully styled, I wanted her to be my mother.  When I opened the magazine to read the article, I couldn’t find the woman on the cover.  I found a pretty lady who was a maid, riding on the bus with other maids, smiling and laughing.  That image was of Ms. Carroll as Claudine, from the 1974 hit movie.  It that moment, I realized that the superstar on the cover and this maid where the same woman and therefore, there must be a Diahann Carroll in my own mother.  I have spent the rest of my life since lavishing my mother with beautiful suits and gifts because the only difference between her and that covergirl was my own childish perception.

It’s wonderful and necessary to see ourselves as strong and handsome, curvaceuous and beautiful but it doesn’t matter if the image gets 1,000 likes if you don’t ever give yourself that 1 important love. You must love you first.

Many people are willing to date someone who is visually “beautiful” and stay with them, even if they prove themselves to be not so beautiful by their actions.  I call it “The Tiffany Box Syndrome.”  People can see that particular brand and know, by cultural familiarity, the importance of the blue box  and even if the box is empty and there’s no treasure inside, at least people see you with a Tiffany box.  The problem is that your soul and your heart are still expecting a gift and if it never arrives, you start to question you, the chooser, the one who accepted an empty box.

As a television producer, I know the impact of imagery and how words and visuals can make people see themselves differently or sometimes for the first time.  Image is everything, but it’s not about the labels, but rather “the label rocker.”  If you can rock your style, your swag, your thick, your smooth, your nerd chic, your You your way, you set trends instead of following them and you teach people that your individuality has merit.  Yes, image is everything but who sets the image?  Oprah Winfrey is not a convenient beauty but she set trends.  Tyra Banks laughs that she was told she had a “5-head” instead of a forehead.  John Legend tells tales of being a nerdy and now he’s a sex symbol.

As you strive for greatness, you’ve got to be willing to be authentic because if you find success in skin that isn’t your own, you can’t own your success.

Kevin E. Taylor

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