Does my size hold me back?

photo: Stewart Cunningham of Stop Press! Media

Gillian Dick aka ‘The Directory Diva‘, has a wealth of directory advertising experience working within blue chip companies such as Scoot, BT Directories and Yell.

In 2009 Gillian founded ‘On Track Advertising Limited‘ which owns and operates a series of local online directories throughout the United Kingdom.

The first directory launched was Find Me Glasgow, which in August 2010 was awarded ‘Young Business of the Year‘ by the Association of Scottish Businesswomen. The business went on to win the Glasgow Business Award for ‘Best Use of Social Media—‘, which was announced on the 7th of October 2010.

Gillian is large, larger than life and completely happy in her skin but finds herself wondering whether other peoples prejudices might affect her business.

And she is confident enough to share her thoughts with the3rdi!

Like the majority of the female population in the UK, I fall into the size 16+ category. This has never been a major problem for me, if it had I would have done something about it by now, but I do find myself asking the questions…does my weight hold me back?

Throughout my career I have worked for a variety of blue chip companies and won awards at all levels. If there was an award or a prize for being the top performer, my absolute focus would be to do whatever was required to achieve this. Why? Because I wanted to be taken seriously and prove how good I was.

If I think about my mindset, I would say that my key strengths have come about from being an overweight child. As the ‘fat kid‘ I believe you always had to try harder and be funnier. In business people buy people before they ever buy your product or service. So, if they don’t like me the chances are they won’t do business with me.

Whilst I am a keen networker and would say I am able to develop strong relationships with my customers, I am also very aware that people do judge books by their covers. The law says that we cannot discriminate against people because of their race, gender or age, yet it still goes on. Many people discriminate in different ways and if someone is ‘out of shape’ that can also throw up the question…‘is this a reflection on their business?‘

This thought may only apply to a small group of people but it is a very real attitude and I believe I have always been very aware of this, so much so that it has been something I have been out to disprove from an early age.

As a society we are obsessed with celebrities and in particular judge females who don’t appear to be perfect very harshly. Stubborn as it may sound, I have purposefully avoided conforming (i.e. losing weight to ‘fit in’) and instead have looked to excel in my positions to demonstrate that being overweight does not equal being lazy, ineffective or have any other negative connotations. People assume you are unhappy if you are overweight, I on the other hand have always professed that my size has literally shaped who I am today.

In an organisation money doesn’t lie; if you are a top performer you will always have a top job and be well rewarded. It’s now as Managing Director of my own company I realise it’s very different, I am the face of the business and I am becoming increasingly aware that opportunities could pass me by.

True to my determined nature and hard work my business has picked up 2 Awards in the first year of trading, this has been a fantastic door opener and absolutely raised our credibility but there is still that odd person I meet, from time to time, that I know deep down can’t see past my size. Of course they would be mortified if I pointed that out but it does happen and surprisingly other women seem to be the worst offenders. What I am suggesting is that society says it is ok for a guy to be overweight but not a woman.

Everyone needs look after themselves and since starting the business I have been very guilty of not investing in myself as much as I should have. The nature of my business is very social, with numerous networking events and late nights this often means I end up eating at completely the wrong times. Michelle Mone is a perfect example of a successful business woman who confessed stress and comfort eating led to her gaining weight. I realise I now need to make time for myself and regardless of how comfortable I am in my own skin, getting in better shape can only be a positive thing for me, my health and ultimately my business.

In order to lose weight and maintain it, you have to do it for the right reasons. It has to be manageable and form part of your everyday life. Anyone who loses weight requires a strong will and determination and it’s only now as a business owner I am thinking if I applied the same approach toward myself as I did to business, what the potential benefits could be?

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