The Battle Against Self
Many issues that women tend to struggle with are rooted in the way we feel about ourselves. Self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, etc., all contribute to self-image.
What can’t be ignored is the prominence of the word “Self” in these words, which implies that the way we feel about ourselves plays a significant role in the majority of our troubles. The interesting thing about the way we feel about ourselves is that these feelings stem from what we believe the world is telling us about ourselves, or what other people think about us.
According to a report by the American Association of University Women entitled “Shortchanging Women, Shortchanging America,” women are plagued with self-image issues well before their pre-teen years.
Girls start first grade with academic ambition and skills that are comparable to boys. But by the time girls finish high school, an alarming number have lost confidence in their academic abilities.
The report states, “Physical appearance is most important for girls in middle school, the time of greatest decline in self-esteem.”
Shortchanging Women, Shortchanging America surveyed roughly 3,000 school-age children. The report indicated the following:
Source: American Association of University Women
The report also says, “…boys are slightly more likely than are girls to believe their own career dreams
will come true. Finding it difficult to dream and feeling constrained by gender rules, girls start out with lower hopes for their careers, and are already less confident in their talents and abilities. Girls are much more likely than boys to say they are ‘not smart enough’ or ‘not good enough’ for their dream careers.”
Pop Culture Doesn’t Help
Pop culture also plays a role in deflating a girl’s self-esteem by praising women based on their physical attributes, which leads many girls to believe that their looks matter more than their ambition. This, in turn, cultivates the notion that a woman’s worth is wrapped up in how attractive she is to a man, and she therefore believes that she must mold herself into whatever society says men want her to be. And then it continues to go downhill from there.
Many of our personal choices, attitudes and behavior all boil down to love and acceptance. At some point in adolescence or young adulthood, we buy into the idea that in order to be loved, we must dim our light so someone else may feel better about themselves. It is truly sad that out of a sheer desire to be accepted and loved, many of us settle and accept all kinds of behavior from people and then create an entire belief system about our worth based on how someone else chooses to treat us.
Finding the antidote for a diseased mindset we have been conditioned to from a tender age is critical.
Although a lot of these unhealthy ideas are ingrained in us from childhood, the best way to quieten the voices of self-doubt, low self-esteem, poor self-image, and a general lack of self-confidence is to deal with the common denominator – “self”. Get to know “self”, find out what makes “self” special, and what “self” likes. Work on your relationship with “self” and learn to love her and nurture her. Accept “self” for who she is, acknowledging her flaws and celebrating her strengths and uniqueness without crucifying her for her shortcomings. But most of all, love “self” for who she is.
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.