Cork stylist: My mission is to separate one’s self worth and value from body size

LINDA KENNY chats to Cork stylist Sharon Huggard about body image and her new mission
Cork stylist: My mission is to separate one’s self worth and value from body size

Stylist Sharon Huggard, from Cork.

STYLIST Sharon Huggard is a woman on a mission and 2022 is going to be the year to ramp it up. And I for one am cheering from the sidelines!

After a period of excess during the recent festivities, the New Year dawns and with it comes the body-shamers on social media, the glut of ‘diet’ posts, and adverts for the latest, most effective, weight-loss programmes.

Sharon Huggard has spent the past 30-plus years defining her self-worth by the reading on the scales and she declares ‘enough is enough’.

That’s why this month she is launching her Body Confidence Solution Programme.

“We can’t keep deferring our happiness until our weight is perfect,” she says. “My mission is to separate one’s self-worth and value from body size and weight”.

In a recent poll on her social media account, Sharon Huggard, the Body Image and Style Coach, 85% of participants cited body image as the biggest impediment to joy and happiness.

“That was a real eye-opener for me. So many are people holding themselves back, opting out of social occasions, abstaining from the family photos, due to poor body image and lack of confidence.

“My own hang-ups date back to my teenage years when we were conditioned to buy a certain size of Levi’s 501 and I didn’t fit the mould. I had to buy a size up and it was a defining moment for me. And that continued into my life.”

Three babies under the ages of three-and-a half saw her weight rise and the pressures of parenting and life saw her push pause on any plans for Sharon herself. But, years down the line, she had an epiphany moment.

“Having withdrawn from the corporate world to raise my three children, I was scared of losing myself, my identity. My lifestyle had changed, stalled.”

Sharon Huggard said she spent the past 30-plus years defining her self-worth by the reading on the scales.
Sharon Huggard said she spent the past 30-plus years defining her self-worth by the reading on the scales.

On a complete whim, she entered, and won, Ireland AM’s Next Top Stylist competition. Her prize was to train with Cathy O’Connor, Ireland’s leading fashion stylist.

“I was someone who couldn’t even do a reading at mass, so why I catapulted myself into this fast-paced, challenging world was mind-boggling, even to me,” she continues with a giggle.

“However, I was drawn to the challenge of creating something practical for the busy mum.

“I’ve always been blighted by ‘imposter syndrome’, though, and was easily derailed by comments like ‘You need something more unique and edgy to be a stylist’, as one established self-proclaimed afficionado told me.

“I took it all to heart. I was too ordinary to be a stylist,” she adds.

So, Sharon moved into the world of retail and, for a decade, gained invaluable expertise dressing thousands of women of every shape and size.

“However, it always felt like I was putting a plaster on a broken leg,” she attests. “I was able to help women to look great for a special occasion but, when they left the shop, they weren’t able to replicate that feeling for themselves, so nothing changed. I am passionate about empowering women with the tools to look and feel amazing every day, not just for those special occasions.”

So, she took the brave leap of faith and set up her business, Sharon Huggard The Style Coach, two years ago.

“My starting premise was always to help women, so I looked at the idea of dressing women to make them feel good on the inside and outside.”

She embarked on her own voyage of personal discovery by amassing a range of coaching skills from QTT, NLP, life coaching to styling qualifications.

“When I set up The Style Coach, I was coming back as myself, Sharon Huggard, someone who has had to deal with my own self-worth challenges. And I could see how what I was saying was resonating with the thousands who came to my masterclasses, signed up for my Style Solution programmes, and tuned in to my Facebook lives on both my own page, and on Derval.ie.”

“I’m very conscious of the value placed on weight and size and I want to help shift that negative, debilitating mindset to one of acceptance.”

Sharon Huggard wants people to accept themselves for who they are.
Sharon Huggard wants people to accept themselves for who they are.

Sharon’s proposition is: what if we started the new year with an acceptance of where we are right now, not a berating of ourselves for over-indulging?

“Does body acceptance equal giving up? Absolutely not. However, when you accept yourself, you are coming from a position and mindset of compassion, love, and freedom, not of fear of rejection, always seeking outside approval,” she adds.

“I think of the legacy we are leaving our daughters and sons. That can’t be that we don’t deserve happiness until we look a certain way!”

Sharon encourages clients to establish ‘feeling’ goals: How do they feel? How do they want to feel? And to set themselves attainable, realistic goals.

“Our beliefs need to change and the stories we tell ourselves,” she continues. “Unless we change those, nothing is going to change for us. Right now, the culture of body shaming is causing people to disengage from the process of opportunity-creation and making precious memories with their families.

“I say to my clients, when you look back at a photo of loved ones, do you even consider their weight, or do you recall the memories associated with that time?”

She challenges her clients to ask themselves: “If I didn’t spend so much time obsessing about my weight, what else could I do?

“Stepping away from the negative, toxic self-beliefs brings huge freedom. Confidence is a muscle and if you aren’t using it, you are losing it,” she insists.

“My clients come from every sector of society, politics, media, the corporate world, busy mums, but their neuroses are the same.

“Know yourself. When you know who you are, how you want to feel, it makes it easier to dress yourself,” she adds.

“The feedback to my Style Solution Programme has been incredible, for some clients it is genuinely transformative. But I still felt there was more that needed unearthing. Style was one thing but I felt the shift needed was much more fundamental,” she explains.

“I decided to run the poll, just as a sort of a litmus test in order to align my approach with the needs of my audience. 

"And I was utterly gobsmacked, and upset, at the volume of those who felt unworthy due to their size,” she continues.

“Everything fell into place for me at that moment. I decided to run a Facebook live on body image and hundreds of viewers booked in. Most were people I had never encountered at my masterclasses or on my social media pages before now. Some tuned in to my page from as far afield as Sweden, Shanghai, and Las Vegas! It has been a real eye-opener.

“Body image has taken a hammering, thanks to Covid (the isolation, the comfort eating, repetitive body-shaming messages like the Covid Stone, etc) and I am determined to emancipate as many as I can from these limiting beliefs.”

For more about Sharon’s The Body Confidence Solution Programme, which kicks off on January 31, contact style@sharonhuggard.com. FB Shine with Style (with Sharon Huggard); Instagram: sharon_huggard_the_style_ coach

Stepping away from the negative, toxic self-beliefs brings huge freedom. Confidence is a muscle and if you aren’t using it, you are losing it.

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