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Worth the weight? Before you go all new year, ask some serious questions.

Reality Check for Resolutions

By Joseph Rosenfeld

A CURRENT exhibit at the Musée Galliera, a Paris museum devoted to fashion history, provided me with a poignant thought worth sharing as we embark on a fresh new year. This exhibition celebrated the works of many unnamed designers as well as pioneers of couture during the 1920s. Coco Chanel's and Jeanne Lanvin's take on appropriate modes of style and clothes were crystallized in stunning forms, but it was a small film clip that really cemented my understanding of what "en vogue" meant then and made me lament aloud what has happened since the good ol' days.

You see, this black and white, soundless snippet featured real women modeling the clothes of such esteemed designers as Worth, Chanel and Lanvin. Yes, the point was simple; it featured real women with shape and with maturity to their bodies. Back outside the museum, while still admiring and contemplating the whole flapper style, I was thrust back into the reality of today, walking past chic boutiques in Paris' Eighth arrondissement and was confronted with styles for sticks, not necessarily for women.

Further along, I took in a busy magazine stand and saw more of what I saw in store windows. Now, not every window's displays depicted clothing for the emaciated, but nary a model on any magazine's pages seemed to resemble the real women as depicted in this little treasure of a film snippet. Women and men are feeling increasing pressure to redefine physical perfection, and I think this can be dangerous.

So here's a free coaching session for all of you real women and men who have resolved to alter your body in the new year. Before you sign that gym membership contract, engage a personal trainer, schedule a consult with your surgeon or pick up the phone to call Jenny-you-know-who, I encourage you to take in a reality check with yourself.

How do you feel? Focus on that, not on how you look. Do you feel strong and healthy? Or, are you achy and worn out? What's your regular routine like? I'm not talking about your morning makeup routine. What's your whole day like? Do you exercise regularly? Do you eat small meals through the day? Do you get up early and get distracted with the kids or with work? Skip meals? Binge at night? What could you do differently and better? You can pick up a weight and put it down, you can walk or swim or run from here to there, but without a realistic purpose all of that exercise won't get you anywhere. What would make you happy? Set a realistic goal for yourself so your resolution can become a reality.

Cutting back to the silent snippet of film, there was nothing wrong with these women. Today, they just aren't depicted as being physically attractive. Despite the store window sightings and the magazine editorials and ads, there are today plentiful choices available when it comes to dressing your body. You don't need to wear couture to dress well. The point is that dressing the body successfully does require a solid understanding of who you are. Yes, your proportions and measurements matter. But so does accepting yourself as you are and rejecting trendy notions that just don't work for you. How about resolving to do just that as a step in the right direction?

Joseph Rosenfeld, the nation's only male Certified Image Professional, helps men, women and corporate employee groups to become more dynamic, compelling and stylish. Visit for more information

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