By Aleks Trkulja
Being self-confident comes from reflecting on all aspects of yourself; learning where you can grow; what you can change, and also what parts of yourself to learn to accept. This can be difficult for some people and its where insecurities may develop.
Often low self esteem is the product of comparison. And comparison is the thief of happiness! It relates to appearance and the 'ideal' body shape and image being promoted through media, and has become set standard for all women.
The difficulty with these standards is that they are based on media representations of the 'ideal' person. Our standards need to be based on the individual's idea of being the best person they can be. This is particularly challenging given the many environmental influences that manipulate our perception of what a confident person is.
The people around us largely affect our self-confidence. Those that are caring, positive and kind tend to encourage healthy attitudes toward body image and self-confidence. This is something that today's societal constructs tend to neglect in their quest for youth, beauty and perfection. One impact of these societal pressures is the objectification of women, which is beautifully discussed by Caroline Heldman in her TEDX talk, The Sexy Lie.
Such is the impact of the objectification of women, that today the apparent flaws or appearance of successful women becomes the target for strangers to broadcast their personal opinions and criticisms. Sadly it seems that the irresponsible use of social media has given rise to the opinions of many being used to shame others. Even the media fails to maintain a neutral stance, seeking higher ratings through the body shaming and objectification of women.
A vicious cycle is established when media reinforces body shaming and bullying of successful people, especially successful women. A perfect example of this was Emma Watson’s United Nations #HeForShe Campaign, that was an international phenomenon. A malicious response to this campaign was a hoax that threatened Watson with images of her own naked body, as punishment for speaking out against inequality.
What is it about our modern dynamics that makes the female body everyone else's property and something that can be used against the very owner of that body? We can blame the media for reinforcing negative attitudes, but surely they must be catering to a group of people who hold these attitudes? The issue is that the objectification of women actually encourages women to criticise other women. Men are not the only perpetrators in body shaming or objectifying women. Far from it!
Equality not only relies on the equal participation of both men and women, but it is relies on a solid foundation of sisterhood. Which sadly seems to be missing. Watson notes, " A lot of the criticism I've ever had in my life, some of the harshest moments ... or hardest moments of criticism, have come from other women."
Sisterhood is the relationship between women, based on a common interest. Criticising one another based on appearance, body shape or clothing is one of the issues in the fight for equality. People claim to be feminists in theory, but in practice continue to belittle or condescend each other. Gender aside, we as people owe it one another to support each other with unconditional kindness an positive regard, despite our differences.
Being a self confident person doesn't only mean accepting and celebrating yourself. It means supporting, accepting and celebrating all kinds of people out there in the world. If we don't support each other, we aren't doing any favours for equality, or for anyone for that matter.