Women: It’s how you feel about yourself that counts
By Barbara Pierce
As a young woman, I thought I was overweight and unattractive.
I wore clothes that hid my figure; I was uncomfortable in a bathing suit. As a result, I had poor self-esteem and little confidence in myself.
However, looking at old pictures of myself in my 20s wearing a two-piece bathing suit, I look pretty good. I wasn’t overweight at all; I wasn’t thin, but I definitely looked good in a bathing suit. How could I have been so wrong?
It’s mind boggling and sad. I think many young women are just like me — they don’t have an accurate picture of how they look in their minds and they lack confidence in themselves.
How does that happen?
Looking at even older pictures, I find my answer. As a pre-teen, I was overweight. Not significantly, but enough that I forever branded myself as a less-than-desirable person.
I identified with Amy Schumer in her movie, “I Feel Pretty.” Yes, a piece of fluff, but fun. And it hits home with many women.
In the movie, Schumer’s character is an ordinary woman who struggles with feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem. Then she bangs her head in a fall. When she wakes up, she believes she has transformed into a gorgeous, model-like beauty, though to everyone else, she looks exactly the same.
Believing she is beautiful with a flawless body, she has all the confidence in the world and begins to act differently. Acting with all this confidence, she gets her dream guy and her dream job. It turns out that both the guy and boss were impressed with her self-confidence.
It sends a so right-on message that the way you feel about yourself is way more important than the way you actually are.
It reminds me of one of my favorite greeting cards: A cute, cuddly little kitten is looking into the mirror. What he sees is a huge, roaring, ferocious lion. The caption: “What matters most is how you see yourself.”
The story in the movie parallels Schumer’s life. She says online: “Feeling pretty isn’t about being a size zero, it’s about loving yourself inside and out no matter what!”
“Don’t’ be embarrassed to get naked in front of your partner because men are so happy to have a naked woman in front of them that they’re not going to say, ‘Oh, you have bit of cellulite; I’m out of here.’ It’s all in our heads,” she said.
“My parents made me think I was a genius supermodel, and it was kind of too late when I found out that they had been lying,” she added.
In college, she found men wanted “thinner, blonder, dumber. No males were noticing me, and it was killing me. I couldn’t compete, and I lost all my self-esteem. I was confused, then I figured it out,” she said.
Here’s a road map
I figured it out too, and here’s some stuff that worked for me. If you lack self-confidence, you can acquire it. Give these suggestions a try:
— Fake it until you make it. You’ve heard this before, but this really helped me. Pretend like you’re sure of yourself; act like you’ve got it. You’ll gradually become the “you” you’re acting like.
— Think positively about yourself. Say to yourself things like “I’ve got this!” Or “I’m pretty amazing!” or “I look so good today!” Even if you don’t believe it, your brain doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies and your brain will believe and act on the positives.
— Kill negative thoughts. We all have thoughts running through our head, and those thoughts may be critical. When self-critical thoughts come into your head, get rid of those thoughts right away; don’t let yourself think them. Replace them with positive thoughts. Talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend if you heard her saying those things about herself.
— Look as good as you can. Wear things that make you feel attractive. Apparel and accessories don’t have to be expensive; the just have to make you feel attractive and ready to tackle the world.
— Have friends who are positive. Hang with people who think you’re amazing, who support you and cheer you on. Avoid people and places that treat you badly and put you down. If you don’t have positive friends, work on getting them in your life.
— Smile. This is such a little thing, but it works. I feel instantly better when I smile, and it helps me be nicer to others as well. It’s a tiny thing that can have a chain reaction.
— Compliment others. Reach out to give compliments to others. Make them feel good about themselves, and you’ll feel good. Confident and secure people make others feel the same. Insecure people make others feel insecure.
Believe me, this stuff does work — just try.
• Barbara Pierce is a retired licensed clinical social worker with many years of experience helping people. If you would like to purchase a copy of her book, “When You Come to the Edge: Aging” or if you have questions for her, contact her at email@example.com.