Over the years I have changed my “elevator pitch” about what I do for work about a million times.
(TBH, that’s partly just the nature of being a solopreneur, the result of catching up my marketing-and-business skills to my passion for coaching. But it’s also because I changed my brand 180 degrees from fitness to body image and self-worth coaching.)
Originally, even back when I was training people at the gym, I would say “I help women fall in love with their bodies.” But at a certain point I realized that this was a very intimidating statement for a lot of women who were so steeped in body anxiety and resentment that it felt like they would never be able to get to such a positive place with their bodies.
I figured… well the last thing I want is to create one more unrealistic standard for women to feel like they’re failing at. Good gracious.
So I flipped it to say “I help women stop hating their bodies.” This was more to the point perhaps, but it still sounded impossible to a lot of my clients, plus it gave all the power and focus to the negative state of body hatred, instead of focusing on the world of freedom and acceptance they’d be stepping into.
That’s when I started saying “I help women accept their bodies.” This landed ok with my audience, and it was squarely within the zeitgeist, reflecting the marketing/media lingo made popular by the body positivity movement.
But still, it felt incomplete and reductive.
Over the years I tried more specific iterations like “I help women find body confidence and self-worth” or “I help women overcome body image and food anxiety,” or “I help women stop obsessing over food, fat, and the shape and size of their bodies.”
That last one was closest to what I really wanted to say, because the majority of my body image clients are looking to stop thinking about _____ (fill in the blank: food, fat, weight, exercise, beauty, body, appearance, whatever) so much.
Of course, then I started to scrutinize the word “woman” because I actually work with clients of all genders lol.
That one doesn’t have an elegant solution yet actually. I’ve said “womxn” instead of women at times, to include all trans and femme-identified folks, but then what about the non-binary and non-gender-conforming folks? What about trans men who were socialized as female and still carry the burdens and pressures of feeling like it’s their job to be human decoration? What about the cis-gender men who constantly email and DM me saying they resonate with my writing, struggle with body image, and wish there was someone doing this work for them?
In an effort to be both accurate and inclusive in my writing, I now bounce around between all these labels and identities when I address or talk about the people my work is for. (2019 is a super weird and exciting time for gender expression and identity, and I look forward to the day when our language catches up with our new values, but for right now it’s a bit hodgepodge and imperfect.)
Anyway, the truth is that no amount of clever phrasing can explain in one sentence what I really do with my clients, because everyone’s story is unique and life coaching is a co-creation, not a dictatorship.
That said, I thought I’d expand a bit on how I understand my job now, since you know me and my writing, but I don’t talk often about my work with private clients.
While I’m an iPEC certified life coach, and therefore qualified to help all kinds of people with all kinds of goals, desires, and blocks, I have come up with my own process and concepts around body image and self-worth which are entirely my own.
In order to do justice to that process, I literally had to write a book. (Still in the final editing phase!)
But as you may have heard me express before, I often start with my clients on topics which are causing immediate stress and pain, like food or body negativity/anxiety/obsession– but we quickly move deep below the surface to talk about the juicy stuff: worthiness, belonging, acceptance, approval, mindset, relationships, sex, gender roles, passion and purpose, fulfillment, and more.
Fun fact: I once had a new client tell me she wanted to work on body confidence without talking about sex, her marriage, or “too much emotional stuff.” I offered to refund her money.
Anyway, all of that is to say that how I do what I do looks different from person to person. The topics we end up unpacking in the middle vary dramatically, but the beginning and end points do tend to reflect some seriously predictable patterns.
So with that in mind, what I do is:
I help people who are obsessed with maintaining and controlling their bodies explore why they feel the need to do this… and then start facing their fears and releasing control, so that they have more energy and brainspace to devote to other pursuits in life.
I help people who are tired of endlessly trying to fix or change their bodies identify what they think will be different in their lives once they’re “fixed” enough, and then start pursuing that at their current body shape/size.
I help people identify what emotional needs they’re trying to get met with their appearance, and then go get those need met in other ways so that the appearance no longer has much power.
I help people who hate their bodies identify what meaning or interpretation they’ve attached to the way they look, so that they can start changing the meaning/interpretation instead of trying to change the body.
I help people who feel shitty about themselves for whatever reason (weak, stupid, bad, wrong, crazy) stop projecting all that shit onto their bodies, heal their self-image, and build a strong and resilient sense of self-worth… so that no matter how they look, they feel whole, confident, and worthy of respect, happiness, and belonging.
I help people who carry shame, who reject or repress parts of themselves that they believe are unacceptable, unforgivable, or unworthy (what I call “dark material”) accept and integrate those parts of themselves so that they can return to a state of wholeness and complete self-acceptance.
I help people move from body-negative to body-neutral while building a strong and resilient sense of self-worth outside of how they look… so that how they look starts to feel like the most boring thing about them.
I’ll keep working on my elevator pitch. I have no doubt my understanding of my job will continue to evolve, and in the name of transparency I’ll always share with you what I’m learning. 😉
For any of you who are running your own businesses (or want to!) hit reply and give me your most recent job description or elevator pitch! I’m always curious how people understand themselves and their role in the world, no matter what industry they’re in, and this kind of thought experiment helps us get super clear while staying tuned into our truth.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts, and of course if anyone reading this is like “oh shit that’s the exact kind of help I need on my body image!” you know where to find me. My client roster is pretty full at the moment, but I will always make time to talk to someone who is ready for help.
So much love,