By: Dr Pauline Crawford, International Speaker & Facilitator
Let me provide a little personal perspective with regard to the forgoing first 40+ years of my life. I was a very fashion conscious female when it came to my own style. I was lucky to be a teenager in the 1960’s because a more causal and funky fashion sense came to the fore. I created my own wardrobe for the reason that, as a young girl, I had learned the art and science of dressmaking. I could conceptualize an outfit simply by looking at a piece of fabric before I had ever sewn a stitch. I learned, among other things, that I was highly visually oriented. I saw ideas as connected shapes. I could read maps and drove my car – according to my female friends – like a man. I could connect diverse pieces in my mind and create designs both on paper and verbally. I loved geometry and art and what I knew of Leonardo Da Vinci made him my role model. Yet, I was dissatisfied with my journey as a woman.
From the beginning – at least when I was in charge of deciding how I would dress – I always dressed to suit the occasion and my emotional make-up of the day. Sometimes I got it right but almost as often I didn’t. In those early years, getting it wrong made me feel somewhat frumpish and more than a little stupid even when I knew I was neither!
I learned much about myself during my formative years, not the smallest lesson of which was … dressing to look feminine mother rather than as the woman I believed myself to be was very, very difficult. I wasn’t suited to soft fabrics that clung to me or frills that created a more sensuous and gentle profile. I felt better in trousers (thanks goodness for jeans). I loved to wear pant suits, and bell-bottoms and many items trendy including mini-skirts. I especially loved the square shouldered jackets of the 80’s and structured garments that hung straight and simple. I liked bold colours and ‘chunky’ jewelry and seldom, if ever, ventured into the frilly; elaborate or tight fitting clothes with low cut necklines. As a business woman in the 90’s, I felt that fashion had finally caught up with ME rather than vice versa.
With the advent of large shoulder pads in women’s jackets and tops, I was told that I looked tough and somewhat intimidating although that was not who I was on the inside. I was just being me. I presented seminars and programs to largely male corporate audiences and felt very much at home. Conversely, when I was at home with my husband and children, I felt estranged from my business driven persona.
As I gained credibility in the work environment, my physicality boosted my confidence when I realized the juxtaposition at work with men in the corporate world. I enjoyed the intellectual sparring, presenting my ideas to inspire business people to develop and improve themselves as I had done. I felt the inner satisfaction of being able to stand my ground but was keenly aware that I was still very much in the developmental stage myself.
Today I continue to spend the greater part of my time humanizing and advancing my work in Gender Dynamics© and Gender-Intelligent Leadership©. It is my firm belief that the results that I have been able to codify is the legacy that I will one day leave to my family, to my friends and the world at large.