How to BE an Indomitable Presence

The Indomitable Grnadmother Booth
Grandmother Booth (1835 – 1911) nee Hannah Holloway (probably not a witch) photographed by Sarony 114 Eliz. St. Melb. Perry & Dougall
via State Library of Victoria

Something else that people do at this time of year is consider revamping their wardrobes (won’t you be glad when January is over and I move on). Katy recently sent me a link to an old blog post about how Petites can build presence (like me she’s troubled in this area).

It’s written by Kelly, who describes herself as “very petite” at 4’11” and her style as tomboy-chic. She lives in San Francisco but doesn’t mention her income-producing work. Her main petite issues are that she can be lost in her clothes because her proportions are smaller than they are and that non-petite people are literally looking down on her compounds this. Both of these are valid points as far as I am concerned.

She offers three key styling approaches she uses herself.

  1. Show some skin: undoing neck buttons, rolling up sleeves and/or pant legs.
  2. Show your figure; wearing something fitted on either half of your body usually skinny jeans with loose tops
  3. Combine the two: for example; cinching your dress waist with a belt, opening your neckline, cuffing your sleeves and wearing strappy sandals

The outfit she demonstrates is one she wore to a wedding, and it does give her a presence that is appropriate for an event of that nature. Or for picking up a bloke at a bar.

However, these styling approaches won’t work in all situations. As a Project Manager liaising with senior stakeholders, this approach would have given me entirely the wrong kind of presence for delicately negotiating practicable outcomes. These situations require a different approach.

Happily, I have just finished reading Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett. One of the key characters is Granny Weatherwax, who is a witch. She describes it as “headology”. It’s about wearing the witch’s hat – you wear the hat because you are a witch, and it becomes a witch’s hat because you wear it. It’s a kind of uniform. Or signature look, come personal brand. People see you coming in your witch’s hat and cloak, and they know that you’re a witch, and that’s what makes your magic work. Because she is a witch, Granny understands what people want; she mutters charms and puts on a show that reinforces the uniform because she knows you have to let other people’s brains do the heavy lifting.


But what if you’re not a witch?

Well, you can see headology everywhere you go. Your bank, for example, issues a uniform for its staff, and when you see the uniform, you see the bank, not the person. And when you need legal advice you don’t go to see someone who wears a hard hat but someone who wears the uniform of a lawyer.

So what we’re really talking about is how you can apply headology in your own life.

It’s a little harder than showing a little skin.

And it comes back to knowing who your true self is. Granny sometimes, now and again, wants to be something else. Other times she wants to be more of a witch; she envies Nanny Ogg’s faceful of witchy warts. But she accepts who she is, and who she is, is a witch (try saying that five times really fast).

So when it comes down to it, who are you? Kelly thinks she is tomboy chic, and tomboy chic probably is wearing skinny jeans and showing a little skin. I’d like to think I’m a witch, and I expect there are people out there who would agree but not in a nice way.

What I am is blunt and plain speaking – you can trust me to point out the obvious and burst your balloon with my witchy hatpin. I am a rip the band-aid off in a short, sharp moment of pain that is over in an instant, none of this peeling it off micrometre by micrometre in an attempt to spare your feelings. Sorry… Well not really.

So it’s best for all of us if I dress in a way that forces your brain to make all these connections before I start talking. So for me, that’s fitted clothes in proportion to my size. It’s got to be stark shapes and bold colours, not loose pastels in tiny patterns or bright, fun colours and patterns and shapes. All I need to do now (as Katy says) is sort out my hair! And that’s a tale for another day.

But if you are not Granny Weatherwax, fear not. Discworld has other witches too. There’s Magrat Garlick with her jangly silver jewellery and heavy eye makeup. Or the thrice-married mother of 15 Nanny Ogg. Or Old Mother Dismass who has a detached retina in her second sight and sounds out of sync with her physical movements.

So which witch are you? And what does your witchy wardrobe look like?

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