How to Cultivate Your Exotic Appeal


“The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.” ― Albert Einstein

Do you ever look in the mirror and feel like you need to massively alter something in order to feel beautiful or do you try to emulate others to be successful?

Before you start changing yourself or following others, I want to challenge you that you may be destroying that very thing that could make you extraordinary:  your exotic appeal.

Exoticism is often associated with characteristics of those of a distant foreign country.  I’d like to think that we can all be a bit exotic if we separate ourselves from all we’ve been taught and create our own country within us.

Diana Vreeland said, “You don’t have to be born beautiful to be wildly attractive.”  And, I’d like to add “wildly successful.”

Think about the iconic women who leveraged their exoticism to captivate the hearts and minds of all they encountered.  Eartha Kitt with her wide set eyes and a strong jaw, landed her the role as catwoman.  Instead of altering her unibrow, painter Frida Kahlo chose to turn it into her signature style.

Then, there’s Josephine Baker. She fled to Paris and took Europe by storm with her sensual and erotic dance moves. She had a deep desire to shine and refused to conform to society’s expectations.

In Paris, she was celebrated for her exotic appeal.

Ernest Hemingway called Baker, “the most sensational woman ever saw.”  Men flocked at her feet.  In fact, it’s rumored that she had 1,500 marriage proposals.  By owning all of herself, she became a legend, and eventually returned to her home country where she was finally appreciated.

Exoticism is not just about your physical features. It’s that je ne sais quoi that comes from deep within.  It’s about you deciding on the type of woman you want to be and cultivating her with your attitude and style.

Women often come to me after trying to fit into a society norm because I’m the coach that doesn’t believe in formulas or systems.  I don’t want to fit you into a one-size fits all formula.  Your soul, m’dear, does not belong in a box or equation.

Instead, I want to know what lights you up, your unique gifts and strengths and how to leverage what comes easiest to you, to boldly declare who you desire to be in the world and embody those qualities every day.   To me, that is what the French Kiss Life-style is all about.

So, instead of trying to have lips like Angelina Jolie, dress like the latest trend in Vogue or build a business like Marie Forleo, what if you focused on setting your own trends and cultivating your own exotic appeal?

My friend, you’d create your own beautiful version of success.

So, if you want to be a one-of-a-kind piece of art (because you are), here are some questions to get you started:

What’s draining you?  What are you trying to be/what formulas are you following/what are you wearing/where are you spending your time/what are you reading that’s draining you?

What physical features do you want to accentuate?  Instead of trying to change what you don’t like, what if you changed your attitude towards that thing?  I spent years obsessing over my curvy bottom. During the era of waif models, I saw my bum as a negative.  But, through a lot of head work, I learned to see it as one of my best features and stopped wearing things to hide it.  I was way ahead of the Kardashians.

What are your unique passions? I worked with a lady who attended many social events with her husband where the conversations usually revolved around politics.  She walked away from each cocktail party feeling less than and like she needed to learn more about a topic that, quite frankly, bored her to tears.  During our work together, we excavated what she’s most passionate about: art.  Now, when she walks into any event, she has something to talk about that lights her up.  And, trust me, people are more interested in the passion than the content.  So, what’s yours?

What are your unique gifts and strengths?  Are you an introvert?  Instead of trying to become a social butterfly, what if you allowed yourself to be the mysterious beauty you are?  Do you have a natural sense of humor?  Then, leverage it to bring a sense of lightness to the room.  Work what comes easiest to you.

What is your signature style?  Instead of jumping on the next trend train, what if you stood solidly on the style that best expresses who you are?  Find that thing that best brings out your unique essence — a scarf, cat-eye glasses, red lipstick, crazy hats or classic pieces — be known for that thing that is you.

What kind of world do you want to live in?  Are you creating that kind of world for yourself or do you let others build your world for you?   Don’t wait for permission or you’ll be waiting for a long time.

Be exotic: accentuate your differences. (tweet it)

I’m more convinced than ever that what makes you different is what will lead to the most fulfilling and wildly successful life.

Now, tell me: what is your exotic appeal?  Don’t be shy. It’s time to own it.

With Love,


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14 Responses to How to Cultivate Your Exotic Appeal

  1. My exotic appeal is my natural kinky/curly hair!
    Lately I’ve been wearing it in braid outs and twist outs and letting it do it’s own thing. I find it interesting that when I straighten my hair no one notices…crickets. But, when I wear it in it’s natural state I get tons of compliments and looks. It’s my unique signature accessory!

    I’ve also started writing again, reading and practicing more yoga. Each one adds great value and joy to my days 🙂

  2. I’m a true redhead. So when I walk in the room, people notice. I grew up hating my hair. The only person who loved it was my grandmother! I was even bullied because of it as a child. But when I turned 13 people started treating me differently. I was no longer teased and I started receiving compliments. Over the years, I’ve heard many pre-conceived notions that both men and women have about redheads and I welcome them all! Let them wonder what beneath this head of hair! I love my hair – it’s my crowning glory and definitely the first thing people notice that sets me apart from everyone else.

  3. I have what people have called gamine/elfin features. I’m also petite, (Just under 5′) so I think that adds to the reference for people. A few years ago I started cutting my (very thick VERY straight) hair short and spiky. It lifts my whole face and emphasizes high cheekbones and the tilt of my eyes. Sonique-I LOVE when girls/women with curly hair just let it be curly. Please know that those of us who cannot get our hair to hold a curl for the life of us do envy you your masses of spirals, waves, curls…
    I am also about halfway through my masters program in English and Creative Writing. I try to challenge myself every day to make the choices that support the life I want to live.

    I love this site Tonya.


  4. I am owning my age and the fact that I am a grandmother. I’m 44 and people tell me I’m the best looking granny they have ever seen.

  5. oh Tonya. This is music to my ears. ♥

    As a bi-lingual, bi-cultural woman, my kid & teenage years were difficult because “I was different” from the norm. I used to travel a lot visiting my families in my 2 countries (France and Spain), used to do things that others around me wouldn’t do (spending my summers abroad learning other languages or working), I was an introvert in a country of expansive extroverts (Spain). I felt really awkard and lonely.

    As I’ve grown, I realized my circumstances made me unique and different. And that made me realize that we are ALL unique and different! We all have our set of circumstances and experiences who make us unique and that have crafted the individuals we are. And this difference is what we need to cultivate.

    That difference is our genius, our unique way to operate. I totally agree with you, it is the source of success and fulfillment, when honored.

    We are very lucky today to be able to create pretty much any life we want for ourselves, our own worlds, as you put it.

    When we start listening to what is right for us, instead of trying to comply with the norm because it’s what is expected of us, we can then fully blossom. The more we honor who we deeply are, the brighter we shine, the more success we have on our onw terms.

    Thank you for spreading your wisdom Tonya.

    With love,

  6. Hi Tonya, or anyone else who might be reading this. I was wondering, how can you cultivate exotic “appeal” if, for example, you live in a society where people of certain races are considered inferior, are looked down upon or not treated well or even, as in some countries, where there are laws that discriminate against people of certain races, and you happen to belong to one of those races. For example, if you are a person of colour living in the deep South in the 1950s. Today you might be free to consider that as being exotic, but in the 1950s being a person of colour in the deep south was not considered exotic. Or if you are a Native American person, even today, there is a lot of contempt towards Native Americans, and when they are singled out it is usually not because people think they are exotic. How would you (or anyone reading this post) respond to this sort of treatment?

  7. I see beauty in everything, rock a solid business, mind and a woo woo soul, have red hair, and I swear like a sailor and can negotiate fund raising galas like the queen herself, and that’s just the tip of the glorious onion that is me. My complexities make me iconic, and when I started to own my uniqueness that’s when I started to shine…duh, right?
    Meeting people where they are and cheering for them as they decide their next move forward is my thing. The more I own the exotic in me, the people around me seem to allow their own magic to emerge…and that honor is what keeps me going as the ‘just be normal’ bombs explode all around me

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