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I remember an elderly woman telling me early into my first pregnancy that I should always try to look my best while I was expecting. At first I was offended. Look my best? My looks had nothing to do with who I was. How I looked didn’t matter. Was it some warning that I was about to get fat and unattractive if I didn’t watch out? I was very upset with her.

But as the days went on, I decided to follow her advice, just to see what would happen. And I found out something very surprising — when I looked my best, I felt a whole lot better. When I felt a whole lot better, people treated and reacted to me much more positively, which lead to me feeling even better. It was a self affirming cycle.

So in the end I did follow her advice, and as a result I got tons of compliments on how good I looked during my pregnancy and I also felt more beautiful than I probably had in my entire life. I had a really great reason to be eating well too, and sleeping well, and reducing stress, and in general taking excellent care of myself, much better than I had before my pregnancy. As a result my skin looked great, my hair looked great, I was the glowing picture of health.

There have been other times in my life when I have not looked my best, usually when I was not feeling my best. I wasn’t sleeping or eating well, and it showed in my hum drum posture and facial expression. I would choose dark, drab clothing, usually baggy or unisex. I didn’t take care to do my makeup and hair. And guess what? People didn’t react positively to me, and as a result I felt less positive about myself.

Something else all this taught me is that when you are not feeling your best, that’s exactly when you should make an even greater effort to look your best. Wear bright cheerful colors, clothes that fit and flatter, do your hair and makeup. It’s an amazingly instant mood booster. If you don’t believe me, why not try it for yourself?

If like me, you were taught that women shouldn’t care about how they look, that caring about your looks would make you shallow, vain, a victim, underpowered, or oppressed, let me assure you that could not be more opposite of the real truth.

Numerous studies show that women who look good have easier and better lives in all sorts of ways, from landing better jobs to getting paid more to associating with others who have a good self image and attitude. If you are in a relationship, your partner will react more positively to you. If you’re not, you’ll get noticed and likely approached far more. It’s just reality.

I am by no means a traditional beauty, not a fine featured girly girl type. In fact, I think I am a bit odd looking, Bohemian. But when I am dressed well and my hair and makeup are done, I noticeably turn heads, even at the age of 43. If I add a big smile and a friendly nature to it, maybe a little flirtatious edge, it can move mountains. Add a dash of femininity to it with flowy drapey fabrics, skirts, heels, and well chosen accessories, and it bumps up even more. I should do this every day, but currently I don’t. I am going to start.

And it’s not just men, women respond much better to me as well. People like happy, attractively groomed, upbeat people. They just do. If you aren’t making an effort, you simply sink into the grey boring background rather than “pop.”

Luckily I am kind of a natural type, so I don’t spend huge amounts of time doing my hair or makeup. I don’t like an artificial “made up” look, but I do look noticeably better when I apply makeup, style my hair, wear flattering clothing, and am taking care of my health and fitness.

Knowing what colors and styles are best for you is key, too. Accentuate the positives, play down the negatives. My friend has a lipstick that looks amazing on her, kind of a shimmery champagne color. I tried the same color and it made me look drab and washed out. Bold lip color, on the other hand, works great for me. In a similar way clothing that looks great on one person, may only emphasize problem areas on another. You have to know yourself, and not be afraid to experiment a bit and have fun with it. I think of it a bit like theater, a kind of performance art that gives clues about who I am and what I care about.

I believe almost any woman can increase her appeal with effort. Sure, not every woman can be a supermodel, but almost any woman looks much better when put together than when she doesn’t make an effort.

So always try to look your best. And especially when you don’t feel your best. It’s in your own best interest. And it makes others happy and responsive to you, too. I am so glad I was given this “old fashioned sexist” advice that led me to understand this very simple way to make my life easier, better, and more enjoyable. I really don’t see any downside to it!

Let those who have ears hear.