A scene in an ad of a woman in a business suit, giving a presentation, she’s calm, walking with pride, her chin up, a smile on her face and determination in her eyes, her colleagues and boss nod with approval and you think, this woman has high self-esteem. Another scene, a woman with a great body, in a cocktail dress, diamond necklace on her neck and men around admiring her, nodding in appreciation to the way she looks and again you think, this woman sure has high self-esteem. Wow! Would not we all like to have this confident look! Then you discover they are ads for soaps or deodorants or jewelry. But, how do we know that this look reflects an empowering character? And why do we subconsciously relate a necklace, a perfume or a suite and the admiration of men or colleagues to our level of confidence. What made us think this way? What is self-esteem and how do women rank themselves? What makes a woman confident?
Since we were young, we’ve been given hidden cultural and social instructions to rely on external sources for confidence. As toddlers, as students, as teenagers we looked up for a nod, a smile or applause from parents, teachers and friends. Advertising tells us that we will feel confident if we wear this perfume or bought this brand name, so do cosmetic surgeons who link a youthful look with a woman’s self-esteem. We are taught at an early age to judge ourselves by the way other people see us. We grew up confusing support with confidence and material stuff with inner strength.
When other people’s judgments have huge impact on our self assessment that it determines our happiness, this is being clingy. When a woman fails in a relationship that she doesn’t want to get intimate again to avoid hurt, this is being scared. When a boss negatively comments on our work and we feel like total losers in everything, this is being shaken. When our weight, clothes, make up or even a wrinkle have a greater value than who we are, then we successfully obeyed the path planned to market products not to build a personality – and this is low self-esteem.
Rana, 38, an engineer, said that “looks are not to be ruled out but that achievements at the social and/or work levels play a role in boosting her self-esteem”.
Dalia, 26, HR, said that she “feels confident only when her fiancée says she’s beautiful”.
Hana, 15, high school student, said “how her hair looks and how much her friends like her clothes gives her a worthy feeling”.
Iman, 50, a house wife, said that “her husband and kids reflect the way she feels about herself, if they are happy and successful then she feels that she succeeded”.
Noha, 47, said “she feels much shaken with every new wrinkle on her face and she regains her self confidence after every BOTOX injection and this makes her feel attractive”.
So you see all females I asked related self-esteem to how people looked at them, do they see beautiful, successful, respectful, powerful and lovable? Well, a self confident woman doesn’t let other people break or make her. A self confident woman doesn’t let her boss, spouse, relatives or strangers affect her self evaluation. Self-esteem; is believing in your strength and potentials, its accepting yourself, its living consciously, purposefully with integrity not letting anyone’s words, views or ideas shake you from inside and not waiting for others to tell you when and how you could be happy. The higher our self-esteem, the more we tend to face life’s challenges with resilience and still stick to our goals. A woman’s self-esteem definitely comes from within.