Ac-cen-tu-ate the Positive

You’ve got to Accentuate the Positive, e-lim-in-ate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don’t mess with mister in-betweeen.

Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters – “Accentuate the Positive”

Case 1: Short Torso vs Long Legs

For her entire life, certainly for MY entire life, my mother has been obsessed with her “freakishly” short-waistedness.  Yes, my mother is very short-waisted, but not freakishly so.  But there’s another side to that coin: what happens to a body when the torso is proportionately quite short?  That’s right.  The legs get disproportionately LONG.  My mother is 5’7″ tall and has a 33″ inseam.  When she was 40 years old, people in her aerobics class called her “Barbie.”  Even now, in her 70′s, she still has the best legs of anyone I know.  Now WHY ON EARTH has she spent her life worrying about the minor price she’s had to pay for such amazing assets?  Because I can assure you, NO ONE, least of all my still-delighted father, has ever noticed her short torso.

would you just look at that freak?


Case 2: Short Legs vs Tiny Feet

I recently recommended a pair of shoes to someone, who remarked that she’s really not supposed to wear cute little shoes like that, because her legs are short.  Apparently Trinny and Susannah advise women with shorter legs to wear pointy-toed shoes to elongate the leg.  Well, that might be nice advice UNLESS your lovely tiny feet are one of your best assets.  It seems to me very short-sighted to hide one of your assets in order to compensate for your shortcomings, wouldn’t you agree?  I pointed out to this person that her legs are NEVER going to look long.  Obviously she shouldn’t dress in a way to make them look any shorter, but if she wears amazing shoes on her adorable, tiny feet, NO ONE is going to notice the relative shortness of her legs.  She’ll be getting too many envious glances and compliments for her golden lotuses.

As Carrie Bradshaw knew, the first thing most women notice about each other is their shoes.


What is going on here?

Naturally, these two cases started me thinking… when exactly did our assets get outweighed by our flaws?  When did we become SO desperate to conceal those flaws that we’d do anything – including ALSO concealing our best assets?


Here’s a novel idea:

What if we could learn to accept that we can’t all be supermodels, and that for 99.9999% of mortals, assets come at the expense of flaws.  My mother’s amazing legs come at the price of a short torso.  My friend’s lovely feet come at the expense of shorter legs.  My length and proportions came at the price of efficient fat-storage machines on my thighs and upper arms.  My long neck came with narrow sloping shoulders.  My small ankles cost me 2 flat feet.  Tiny waists often come with big bums.  Can’t you forgive your big ears, if they meant you got such beautiful blue eyes?  Or maybe you got thick ankles, but gorgeous eyelashes.  Isn’t that a trade worth making?

Light and dark, good and bad, exist together and because of each other.


Now, viewing your flaws and assets as different sides of the same coin that makes you YOU… doesn’t that make it easier to accept those “flaws?”  It seems to me we’ve been giving them far too much emphasis, while neglecting our assets.  We’ve separated them and inflated their importance, allowing them to eclipse the wonderful things we got in exchange.

Time to get out your notebooks, class.

Take a blank page and divide it into three columns.  You’re going to take a total-body inventory.  Yes, really.  Column 1 is for assets.  Column 2 is for flaws.  Column 3 is optional – for attributes which aren’t your best, but aren’t your worst features, either.

Start with your assets.  More than likely you have many lovely features which you’ve never stopped to consider.  Here is just a small list of suggestions:

  • Hair
  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Small, pretty ears
  • Good jawline
  • Nice lips
  • Pretty face
  • Long neck
  • Nicely defined collarbones
  • Broad shoulders
  • Toned arms
  • Small, delicate wrists
  • Lovely hands
  • Long, slender fingers
  • Nice chest
  • Small waistline
  • Slim -or- well-rounded hips
  • Round, pert bottom (regardless of size, thank you JLo and KK!)
  • Slender thighs
  • Pretty knees
  • Nicely-shaped calves
  • Slender ankles
  • Small or pretty feet
  • Nice-looking toes

Ask your partner or a trusted friend if you’re having trouble.  Ask them to be honest.  You’ll probably be surprised by how many nice things they have to say about your body.

some people actually make a living out of a single great feature like this.


Now move on to your flaws in column 2.  I’m guessing you won’t need any help with this list.


I’m not going to help you with this part.


Take some time to look over your lists.  There should be some balance there.  If you find there are a lot of items in column 2 and not much in column 1, then I urge you to consult with a partner or friend again to gain some perspective.


Balance, people!


Finally, get a highlighter and mark those few items which are the absolute BEST and WORST – those things you should try to always reveal, or always conceal.


CONGRATULATIONS!  You’re well on your way to having a clear vision for your unique personal style.  Keep in mind that this will be a life-long journey of growth and discovery, so these skills and this knowledge should serve you well for many years to come.


As for HOW to conceal or reveal the items on your list, we’ll be covering a lot of that later on.  In the meantime, if you want to ask any questions, feel free to ask for help on the Facebook page or leave a comment here.


on “Ac-cen-tu-ate the Positive
3 Comments on “Ac-cen-tu-ate the Positive
  1. I have good skin for a 64 year old woman. My hair is good too, and now my nails look nice. That’s my happy with list. Even as a young woman of 120 lbs, I looked wide straight on, compared to my side view. This is because I was always very short waisted. My right leg does not hang as straight as my left, even in my youth. When horseback riding, I was informed I had a ‘swimmers leg’ or ‘screw leg’. So I never looked graceful. My breast were small and my face is slightly off center. Still, in retrospect, I could have been attractive if I tried. But, I did not believe it was possible.

    • You ALSO have amazingly tiny, delicate wrists. I still can’t believe a) that you could wear that child’s bracelet, and b) that it still doesn’t occur to you to put that on your list of positives!

  2. Pingback: » Dressing Well is Part Magic: a tutorial with terrible stick-figure drawings - Dana Forlano

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