The Dance of Self Confidence, Objectification and Equality

Photo by Digital Vision./Digital Vision / Getty Images

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.

A Savvy Girl’s Guide to Dealing with Harassment in a Bar


By Aleks Trkulja

When I’m not interning for Tanya in her Surry Hills practice, I pour beers at an inner city pub in Sydney. One Sunday, during the day, I was verbally harassed by a group of men who were drinking in the pub. Normally this particular venue does not attract these kinds of people. It was a rare occasion, and bad luck that I happened to have served them.

They ordered drinks by instruction rather than as a question with no sign of “please” or “thank you”. They asked for triple shots, which I refused to make due to my Responsible Service of Alcohol, and because attitudes like that don’t need to be fuelled further by alcohol.

After calmly and clearly setting boundaries by explaining my responsibility as a bartender, and informing them that as a human I  don’t appreciate being badgered or harassed, I suggested that they should be polite, or they would have to leave. Their response to these requests was to verbally harass me:

“Give us triple shots!”

“She’s so hot when she’s angry.”

“F**k I love it when she’s mad at me, she’s so feisty.”

“Haha, awww don’t be mad! Smile! Show us that pretty smile.”

This encounter shook me. I felt powerless and angry. I was helpless. I asked them to stop. Told the manager to ask them to leave (which they did, while I shed a few angry tears in the back room).  But what else could be done? Even once they were asked to leave by the manager they continued to argue and resist instruction.

This infuriated me. Where they raised by wolves? How do you manage to walk out into the world thinking you could treat everyone like shit, yet you only deserve the best? This inconsistency baffled me. I rarely encounter these types of people, but it made me think about how many people (both men and women) have fallen victim to people who think that are exempt of the social rules that establish respect between strangers.

So I’ve put together a few tips on how to manage verbal harassment.

Set boundaries

  • When confronted, verbally communicate what is not acceptable behaviour.
  • An example of a setting boundary and explaining the consequence of crossing it is: ‘Please don’t harass me while I am serving you. If you continue I will have to ask you to leave.’

  • This formula can be changed up to apply to any situation, for example: “Please don’t harass me, I’m having drinks with my friends, I don’t want to talk to you. If you continue to harass me and my friends, I will have to let the security guard know because you’re making us uncomfortable.”

Have patience

  • Remember you’re dealing with someone who is clearly not as thoughtful as you. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself how tiny the words coming from their mouths really are.
  • Despite how frustrated they make you feel, remember there is not Netflix and pizza in prison!!!!!  Keep your cool.

Avoid interaction

  • A simple way to limit the amount of harassment you receive is to avoid the person doing the harassing.
  • This can be difficult but its oh so worth it! Don’t give them the airtime that they seek.  Out of sight, out of mind! Surround yourself with the beautiful humans that treat you well instead.