Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

* Embracing success.jpgI’m delighted to have an interview with Bobbie Thomas as my first for Beliefnet in my Embracing SUCCESS series. Her national column, “The Buzz,” is featured in In Touch magazine and highlights Hollywood’s hottest fashion and beauty must-haves, and explores its trends. A regular on the red carpet, Bobbie recaps the hits and misses of award show haute couture. She’s The Style Editor on NBC’s Today Show  and has appeared on other shows including FOX, CNN, VH-1 and MTV, The View and many more. Bobbie’s taken viewers inside celebrity lifestyle as the Style Correspondent for On-Air with Ryan Seacrest, and has hosted several episodes of E! Entertainment Television’s international show FYE. Her credits go on and on.

Why do I have Bobbie Thomas on my self-empowerment blog? She says she grew up struggling with her self-esteem, especially after her parents got divorced and she moved around a lot. Having studied psychology in school, Bobbie is now dedicated to helping people make their outside match their inside. She noticed that many magazines at were reporting and featuring stories about whether young popstars had real or fake boobs. Because of her unique circumstance, she was around a lot of these reporters and told them she thought they should be reporting on how confidence is sexy, not a boob job. They liked her outlook and that’s how she began writing her first column, aimed at inspiring young girls.
She believes “You can be sexy and smart.” I was inspired when I heard Bobbie speak. She’s a self-made woman who both sexes can learn from and be as inspired by as I am. Here’s what she had to say:

Bobbie Thomas.jpgHow important was pleasing others when you were younger? I’m still to some extent at point in my life in search of approval from many people. I remember seeking my father’s approval more than some would think was healthy. I think our society is set up to groom young girls to seek out the approval of men. Men have more coaches on their level to give them advice while girls are left to compete with each other and fight over men. I wish young girls could be more involved with team activities the way boys are. Although we say it’s changing, men predominantly still look to sports and have a sort of camaraderie. Women tend to look at fashion and beautifying themselves or looking for boyfriend, which is a solo sort of sport.

What was your aha moment, when you knew you had to take care of yourself? I think it’s a lifelong process. A big influence was during a period in my early 20’s when I was dating somebody whose career propelled him into the public eye and made him a world famous celebrity. He was a musician with many adoring young girl fans. I remember at that time really being aware of the influence that a celebrity had on young girls and their moms. I was along for the ride as a passenger.

How did that experience affect you? It shaped my perspective. I knew I wanted to affect young girls. I sort of unlocked the secret for myself that confidence is sexy, not a boob job. When I was offered the opportunity to write for a teen magazine and get involved with charities that affect women, I was able to do so because I had a unique perspective to offer. I’d had the opportunity to walk in someone’s shoes.

Where does your passion come from? I love what I do! My job looks glamorous but ironically it couldn’t be further from the truth. I work 24/7 at times and have to give up a lot to do what I do but it comes from a place of wanting to connect to women and make a difference by sharing what I learned.

What’s the best accessory someone can wear to look good? Confidence! Nothing will be noticed more than your confidence. You could spend a [lot of money] on the latest handbag, but it’s not about you. They’re noticing the bag. You may hope it will make you more noticeable but it’s never going to work. The most important accessory you can ever own is your confidence. We are human beings and empathetic. If you show up in stilettos and don’t look comfortable people will look at you and ask what’s wrong since you look painfully uncomfortable.

How does confidence help? If you are glowing and truly love yourself and are happy with your decisions, what you stand for, anything you wear will be amazing. People will say, “Wow! You look great!!” They can try to attribute it to what you wear. But the only way to really pull it off is to make sure that personal style comes from within. The outside should match the inside.

How did you evolve into the career you have now? Instead of putting my head down and focusing on the track that I was interested in at the time–psychology, I was counseling at a rape crisis treatment center–I walked though doors that opened and took the offer to write for Teen magazine. I felt this was a platform to reach many, many people. Why not try to use something that young girls were scraping up their lunch money for. This magazine was going to let me write something that could potentially affect good. I found my calling–to work on the prevention side of these issues. I’ve become a professional girlfriend. I try to do as much good as I can. I receive so much personal joy in knowing other people benefit from it.

How would you define good self-esteem? Basing your worth on intrinsic values. Making sure your love for who you are is judged by no one other than you. Too many people make the mistake of basing their worth on extrinsic qualities, like a handbag, car or boyfriend. They don’t realize they’re insecure because none of those are stable items. A handbag can become last season’s. A boyfriend can walk away from you. It really has to come from within on so many levels–psychologically, intrinsically, physically, accomplishment-wise.

Why is it so important to feel good in the skin you’re in? Sometimes we wake up not liking something about our appearance. I sometimes feel l like they’re distractions and diversions if you’re looking for something to blame for why you’re not happy inside on your own. Even myself–I’m not super-human and do not wear the self-esteem cape flying around the city feeling “I am amazing.” I wake up more days than not wishing I could give myself my own Bobbie Thomas lecture.

When I eat like crap I don’t feel well, but know it’s coming from a healthy place. You need to learn to honor your body as a temple instead of doing things that are the opposite of nourishment. It can be spiritually, psychologically, food, anything that nourishes your body and soul. We should all strive to be healthy.

What have you observed about body image? It’s not about being skinny. There are girls who think they’re too skinny and wish they had more curves. I hate that the stereotype has become about girls wanting to be skinny. Skinny does not equal sexy or stylish. It all comes down to confidence, which encapsulates all the qualities you can’t put your finger on. They’re intangible but infectious–just walking into a room and loving the skin you’re in while owning the space you have. 

How do you see yourself now? Still a work in progress. We all are!

What is your biggest SUCCESS? It’s a journey. For me, success is being happy; being excited about looking forward to new accomplishments; measuring yourself by the friends and family you keep and how much love you’re able to receive, and give.

How do you show yourself love? I work quite a bit so being able to say no or find balance is the biggest way to love myself. It’s to stop and not be so hard on myself and take a day off here and there.

Your best advice? If you are comfortable in your own skin and happy with what you’re attracting–that’s happiness. Be okay with who you are and hopefully who you are will be okay to people you want to share the life with. That’s the key to happiness I’m going after.

Check out Bobbie’s website. She loves playing with how to use scissors, safety pins, glue, tape and more to change your wardrobe and wants to share that. She says, “It’s a glamorous way to be green.” Her site has many tips for how to rethink, reuse and reinvent what you have to create fashion that’s authentically you and doesn’t cost a lot. Instead of getting rid of something you don’t like anymore, you can reinvent it!

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