Body image and self-esteem are buzzwords these days. Particularly because we live in a world where there seems to be an unspoken mold of what ‘ideal’ does or should look like. If you don’t fit that template physically, your self-esteem in all areas of life can easily suffer, whether or not your body has anything to do with it. But there also has never been a better time to challenge this perception and work to genuinely accept yourself, whatever you look like, to ensure you can make the most out of your life. Keep reading to find out why is self-esteem important and learn advice from three women on how they work to create amazing self-esteem.
Our culture of youth-obsessed beauty standards has pushed many of us into believing that the world belongs to the young and the slim. As a result, we’re constantly trying to change ourselves, despite the fact that what's considered physically ‘perfect’ is always evolving. This translates into toxic cycles of diets, workouts, and even surgeries that can be mentally and physically draining – and never-ending.
During our global research, we found that 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful.
The disadvantages of poor body image are well documented – low self-esteem and confidence, mental health issues, eating disorders, and more…the list is worryingly long. For this reason, it’s high time we start educating ourselves about topics like what is body image, how a poor body image can affect self-esteem, and self-esteem in adolescence.
The first step to building body confidence actually comes from minimizing our obsession with bodies and appearance. True confidence and self-esteem comes from focusing on your achievements, your actions and the hardships you’ve overcome to get to where you are today, rather than looking a certain way. Below, we speak with three women about how they all combatted negative self image to be the best version of themselves. But first, let’s look at how this harmful mindset can even arise.
What is body image?
First, let's answer the question: what is body image? It’s a complex term that refers to people's perceptions of their bodies – how they feel about their body, what they believe about their appearance, and how they feel about their skin.
Positive body image relates to body satisfaction and acceptance, while negative body image is about dissatisfaction and wanting to change your body.
The issue is, body image doesn’t just impact how we view ourselves physically – it can also affect our self-esteem and how we view our capabilities and potential. Taking the power away from what we look like and instead focusing on what we can do and have done in life is the secret to ensuring your self-esteem stays strong. Here are three women who have done just that.
3 tips from self-confident women on developing self-esteem
“Working hard gives me self-confidence”
Says Patrice, 61, who has two grown-up children
“I take pride in the fact that I am, and have always been, a hard worker. My mom was the same – as a single mother raising six children alone in the 1960s and 70s, she had to work to make ends meet when many other women were homemakers. This instilled in me and my siblings that you can create a good life by working hard, even when the odds are stacked against you. Knowing that I can achieve things by putting in effort gives me a lot of self-esteem and confidence. It shows me that I have the power to do great things. Now seeing my two adult daughters be successful in their careers through their own hard work is the best feeling – it feels like the lesson and confidence has come full circle.”
“I’m inspired by others to feel capable – if they can do it, I can too!”
Says Rhiannon, 36, who has two daughters ages 6 and 4
“I teach my daughters to believe in themselves and that they are capable of doing or being anything they want... then it hit me that I needed to be talking to myself in the same way. They are learning from everything I do. Things don't have to work out perfectly and it's okay for them to see me fail. But the most important thing they need to see is me believing in myself and persevering. If I am ever questioning things, I remind myself that other people have done harder things than me in worse situations. It’s the idea that, ‘If they can do it, I can too’. This is easy to apply to every situation, too, whether you think about a friend, a public person or even those dealing with horrible situations around the world. We are all so capable and remembering that gives me confidence.”
‘I turn to other strong women’
Says Ava, 24, who is in her first year of Law School
“If I’m ever questioning myself, I listen to empowering music from women I admire, like Taylor Swift or Beyoncé. It sounds cheesy, but it really puts me into a different mindset because I feel like I have these amazing women in my corner. I also turn to my best friend to hype me up – we got a tattoo together that says ‘It’s all happening’ which is a quote from the movie Almost Famous. The point of it is to remind us that even when things feel scary or overwhelming, it’s probably because life is moving forward in a way we’ve been working towards. It’s all helping us grow and become the people we want to be and that makes me feel confident.”