You ‘Winsome’, You Lose Some

Recently, after speaking at an event, I was approach by a man who was in the audience. I had chatted with this man at an engagement last year, but we didn’t know each other well.

He seemed really excited to be speaking to me and was ‘gushing’ over my talk – and hey – who doesn’t like to be ‘gushed’ over? I was listening intently when he said something fascinating that made my world stand still.  I will never forget what he said…it started off so nicely but went downhill from there…”You are just so real, so genuine, so likeable, onstage and off. I think it’s partly because you are not too beautiful.”

OMG, so funny! What? Did I hear that right?

He kept on speaking but I didn’t hear anything else. It was like the frame froze on that spot.

I was fascinated by his statement. Clearly it wasn’t a pick-up line, and yes, this man is surprisingly single.

Since I am a curious sort – the characteristic that gets me into the most trouble – I had to know more.

“May I ask you about something?” I began.  “I’m not upset or mad or insulted, I’m just curious.  Could you explain more about the ‘not too beautiful’ part?

He explained how, when people look ‘movie-star’ beautiful, other people often feel too intimidated to talk to them. He said that I, on the other hand, look and act well…approachable.

Thanks.  I think.

Now listen, I’m not blind. I own a mirror. I know what I look like. There is a reason on I’m the radio for sure!  I don’t look like I should be on the cover of a magazine. I’m ok with that. I also don’t think I repel people with my looks. I think I hover somewhere in the middle – average, normal, un-, un-, un-something. Unremarkable perhaps.  Like most of us mere mortals.

I’m okay with that, truly I am. I learned this long ago when I showed my neighbour a family photo we had taken with the kids. She commented on what a nice picture it was. I agreed and said that I liked how everyone looked except for me. Then she said, in her wonderfully awesome way, “Steph, I hate to tell you this, but that is how you look.”

Oh. That is how I look. Ouch. It’s kind of like how no one likes the sound of their own voice.  We say, ‘Hey I don’t sound like that!’ and then everyone goes – yeah, you do actually.

Anyway, that moment was the start of the journey of owning, of accepting, how I look. I look fine. Good enough. I clean up ok.  In fact, the new word I am going to own is winsome which was recently suggested to me.  I had never heard that word before and I had to look it up. It comes from the Old English word wynn which means pleasure and delight.  Winsome means you are attractive or charming in an open, engaging and delightful way. I love that word!  I am thinking the category of beautiful is far too pressure-filled and competitive, I think I will live in the winsome world and strive to be at the top of my game there.

Men – don’t feel left out, if handsome seems too big of a stretch for you, why not go for the ever pleasing dashing – attractive in a romantic, adventurous way; or how about debonair – mmm, I like that one!On another note, while I wasn’t insulted by Joe McFlatterer’s comment, it did cause me to think harder about how we react to how other people look – positively or negatively.

If a person is a chart topping 9 or 10, they must the conceited, self-absorbed sort, right?  Are you less likely to befriend them? Do you feel inferior around them?  If a person has a PhD,is good looking and, heaven forbid, is nice too – is that grounds for discrimination?

I can recall a time or two when I served judgement papers – and I think women are typically harder on other women. Don’t be skinny and smart or we are sure to call you bad words. Prove us wrong by actually being kind and nice, then we may just dislike you for that too. It’s a crazy world, n’est pas?

Whew, I’m sure glad I don’t have the problem of being ‘too beautiful’!  I think I’ll stick with being my plain, approachable, winsome self. And the next time a good-looking, intelligent, nice person passes my way – maybe I’ll extend my condolences.

You winsome and you lose some.

Here’s what Meryl Streep has to say about beauty to the guy who called her ‘brutta!’


Stephanie Staples, CSP* is the author of When Enlightening Strikes – Creating a Mindset for Uncommon Success and an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker. She empowers audiences & clients across North America to bring their ‘A’ game to work and to life. Stephanie has a special interest in working with and empowering nurses and healthcare providers. She happily calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home. You can get loads of complimentary resources to help with issues such as work/life balance, wellness, stress management and happiness in general, as well as find out more information about her coaching and speaking services at

* Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), conferred by the National Speakers Association is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform proficiency. Less than 10 percent of speakers have earned this credential and are recognized as some of the best in their fields. Stephanie was one of only five professional speakers in Canada (and the only woman) to attain this designation in 2013.



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