Cindra Lee Henry – Transition Specialist
I began my exploration of the various aspects of image consulting as a result of a personal crisis. In 1994 I had a serious accident that left me unable to exercise for nearly a year. Over the course of that year I gained 75 pounds and became someone I no longer knew. Suddenly, the ebullient extrovert I had always been was hidden beneath someone who didn’t want to go out of the house because she felt like an eye-sore. I felt ugly and that scared me into facing my prejudices about weight and beauty.
Luckily, the inner core of who I was believed my prejudices were destroying me. That inner core knew I was wrong, knew that “beauty is not conformity; it is the creative and artistic expression of your individuality.” That inner core knew that no matter what size a person is, no matter what their physical characteristics, they can be visually beautiful if they will only take a little time, make a little effort, to express outwardly the beauty that is their soul, the essence of who they are.
In order to rediscover the essence of who I was and find a way to appreciate myself in this new and unfamiliar body, I dove head-first into the world of image. Modeling, color analysis, makeup, line and style – I spent two years acquiring the tools to visually express the beauty of who I felt I was at heart and more importantly, who I wanted to become.
All of this new knowledge fueled the work I was doing at the time – career transitions for older workers who’d been displaced from long and successful careers. These were individuals who were angry that they’d been displaced, angry that their expertise and talents were no longer valued. Going into interviews for jobs in different fields, rather than projecting their value these people were projecting a host of negative images without even realizing it.
This is normal. It happens to all of us. We are not used to having to evaluate what we’re projecting. But knowing what information we’re projecting before we even utter a word can be incredibly valuable. And that’s what my work is all about.
Older workers transitioning from careers that have disappeared, individuals transitioning from incarceration back into the larger community, someone experiencing homelessness who’s trying to get a job – no matter what the circumstances, navigating these transitions is challenging for many reasons. But one of the biggest reasons is the misperceptions held by the people we must impress if we are to be offered a job. This aspect of the process is one that must not be underestimated. However, it is also one that can be managed.
Making visual assessments of those we encounter is a fundamental aspect of being human. Therefore, it is important to understand how to make as positive an impact as we can. We do this through what we wear, how we wear it, and all the other decisions we make about how we present ourselves. With only a few basic skills and a little awareness, we can all create a visually positive immediate impact and project what we want others to perceive about who we are before they even make our acquaintance.
This is work that I do is fueled by my belief that at their core every human being is uniquely valuable. It is my deep desire to help each individual discover this unique value and learn to express their individual beauty from that vantage point.