By: Gracey Hitchcock
What is beauty? It's a question that society, media, art, literature, and even scientists try to answer daily. It has been called both a curse and a gift. It is greatly sought-after, but also seen as unattainable by many. Beauty is something everyone wants, but something that almost no one will openly admit to having. It's the source of joy, success, envy and guilt. Millions of dollars a year are spent in pursuit of it.
Yanka Van der Kolk, the creator of the program, Power of Self Image, believes that beauty is a process and that it is attainable by all of us.
For the past thirty years beauty has been her business. Yanka was a top international model for twenty years. She works with her husband, photographer, Henk Van der Kolk, as one of Canada's most successful and established image consultants. Together, Yanka and Henk have photographed many of Canada's best-known celebrities and business leaders.
In her work as a model and image consultant, Yanka has seen first-hand the difficulties even highly successful people have facing a camera. She has worked with thousands of individuals who excel at their own professions but can hardly bring themselves to look at their own face in a mirror.
After years of hearing people disparage their own physical appearance, Yanka began to examine why people are so uncomfortable with the question of personal beauty. Why do top professionals and executives look after every facet of their personal well being and yet deny their own need to feel attractive?
As a former top model, Yanka is aware of the invaluable contributions that good hair, make-up and lighting make to a beautiful photograph. But after working with thousands of clients, Yanka has come to realize that all the tricks of the trade are useless if clients won't allow themselves to embrace their own beauty-if they don't really feel they deserve their moment in the "beauty" spotlight. The media is flooded with articles and television shows that deal with health, wellness, and self-development. Oprah's phenomenally popular new magazine, O, is a monthly tome of self-improvement: physical, emotional and spiritual. There are countless how-to articles in fashion magazines and newspapers that deal with the mechanics of beauty, but no one deals with the real problem-our own preconceived, self-limiting, guilt-ridden view of personal beauty.
Everyone longs to be beautiful and attractive to others but no one wants to be considered vain, shallow or foolish. We pay top models millions of dollars to be our beauty icons, but tell children beauty isn't important. We spend small fortunes on clothes and make-up, but then we dismiss it all as just a health or business necessity. How many people will actually admit to wanting to be beautiful, to being beautiful?
Yanka feels the right to be beautiful is a non-negotiable and necessary component of spiritual and emotional health.
Yanka has coached thousands of clients through the trauma of being photographed. She has unlocked their fears and inhibitions and helped them to like what they see in the mirror.
In working with her clients before the mirror, Yanka has seen her coaching act as a catalyst for profound changes that extend well beyond the mirror or the photography studio.
The ability to see and accept their own physical beauty is profoundly liberating. For many of Yanka's clients liking - even loving - what they saw in the mirror was only the first step to throwing off other self- limiting beliefs and behavior.