A couple of months ago comedian and actress, Amy Schumer, confessed on The Today Show that she has always had a poor self-image and never had a knack for fashion.  She became very emotional when discussing the subject.

But Schumer’s stylist Leesa Evans helped Schumer improve her self-image by giving her some fashion pointers, and how to be more confidant in her God-given body.  Schumer was so happy with the results that she wanted to make a similar impact on others.

According to an article in Slate.com, “Schumer aims to give that confidence to every woman by coordinating with Goodwill Industries to organize Stylefund and cohost a style empowerment workshop, inspiring women to feel empowered and inspired by fashion no matter what their body type is.”

The inaugural event provided style and fashion advice and services to dozens of disadvantaged women in the LA area, helping them improve their professional appearance and self-image, while adding Schumer’s very influential voice to the conversation about the importance of self-worth.

Though many dynamics can impact an individual’s self-esteem, the fact remains that we live in a cynical, materialistic society that is often more enamored with the content of one’s wardrobe than the content of one’s character.  Like it or not we are often judged by how we look.  Social, traditional and entertainment media, for good or bad, often shape the way we feel about ourselves.  And when you’re working, you’re not just representing your personal brand, you’re also representing your corporate brand.  As an employee you’re being paid to be a brand ambassador, which means looking the part in addition to playing the part.  This applies to both women AND men.  I had a boss who once told me, “Don’t dress for who you are, dress for who you want to be.”

At Goodwill we try to instill in the people we serve that confidence is critical to job success and career growth.  However, it’s okay to experience a little self-doubt.  Everyone does.  What is more important is whether IT controls you or you control IT.  A poor self-image can cause problems with anxiety, health, relationships, academics, job performance and even lead to depression.  And the populations Goodwill serves are faced with far more obstacles than Amy Schumer!

We all want to look nice – to be sure.  But not everyone has the financial resources or style sense to look like Kim Kardashian or George Clooney.  These barriers can have a real emotional (and professional) impact on some.  So the question Amy Schumer was trying to answer for herself and others is, how do you feel better about yourself when you don’t believe you fit the image others expect of you.  Amy learned that as long as she is comfortable with who she is, then how her critics feel about her is irrelevant, and that manifests itself in all aspects of her life.

While I don’t pretend to be a psychologist and I’m certain that there are many ways to improve one’s self-image, whether through style, therapy or otherwise, below are six sensible steps worth considering.

1. Be authentic. Drop pretenses just to please someone else. You are who you are, so own it.  Certainly, while in the workplace you will be expected to adhere to professional standards, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also be yourself or dress nicely on a budget.

2. Learn to say no. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t say “yes” just to please everyone and let them walk all over you.  If you don’t want to do something, just politely decline.  They’ll respect you more for it.  But if you agree to something, do it to the best of your ability.

3. Grant yourself the permission to make mistakes. Vow to learn from them. Guess what?  No one is perfect.  Some may claim to be, but believe me they are not.  Don’t be so hard on yourself when you make a mistake, but try to learn from it so that you don’t repeat it.

4. Take responsibility for your actions.  You know why politicians get themselves into so much hot water?  Because they deny, deny, deny, until the proof against them is so overwhelming they have to admit they made a mistake, but by then their credibility and integrity are destroyed.  Had they just admitted that they were human and made a mistake in the first place, most people would have forgiven them and moved on.  Simple rule for most to understand.  Hard rule for some to follow.

5. Help others. Pretty self-explanatory.  Helping someone less fortunate than you can be great therapy.  You’ll be surprised how quickly you hear that little voice in your head saying, “I guess things aren’t as bad as I thought.”

6. Immerse yourself in whatever you decide to do. Quit worrying about your choices.  Once you’ve decided to take action on something – complete it.  What you decide to do in life is up to you, but just make sure you do it to the best of your ability.  No one can expect anything more from you than that.

These are fairly simple suggestions, but may help.  Try them or don’t, it’s up to you, but one thing is for certain: If you have an issue with self-esteem, you’re not helping yourself or those close to you by not addressing it.  You deserve better.  Just take a lesson from Amy Schumer.

If you’re interested in reading more on this subject, here are a few links.