Mental Health

The Confidence Stigma

APR ArielleB
Whether we talk about it or not, there is a stigma surrounding women and confidence. A lot of girls and women feel the need to berate themselves due to conversational banter in society.

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Whether we talk about it or not, there is a stigma surrounding women and confidence. So many women who are self-assured and happy carry the stigma they are self-involved or full of themselves, which isn’t the case at all.

A lot of girls and women feel the need to berate themselves due to conversational banter in society. Some feel they need to downplay their beauty, intelligence, and talent, in order to be seen as acceptable or normal.

When it is more commonplace for a teenage girl to tell every friend her thighs are fat, rather than tell them she received an A on her science test, we have a problem.

This is a stigma completely separate from eating disorders and body image, though the two topics may play a role in certain circumstances. Girls and women without mental health concerns face this stigma every day. Many of them face it without even realizing it exists.Can we fix it? I hope so. Will it happen quickly? Unfortunately, no.

We have years and years worth of learned behavior, sexism, and poor self-esteem to weed through.

But we can change things.

The first step to changing things is recognizing examples of this “women + confidence” stigma. The second step is pointing them out as they happen to us, to our friends, and to other women we meet in our day-to-day lives. The third step is to encourage the right things, to be proud of ourselves, and to give other women a boost rather than allowing them to talk down to themselves in our presence.

Think about it: It’s generally acceptable for boys and men to pride themselves on their academic status, their sexual encounters, their athleticism, and their physique (i.e. pronounced biceps, a “six-pack,” etc.).

For girls and women, the complete opposite is generally true. If girls and women pride themselves on their academic excellence out loud and in front of others, they are cocky. If they pride themselves on their sensuality or love of sex, they are sluts. If they are great at athletics and known for their talent, they are often considered too masculine, not feminine enough, or are called names meant to be negative, such as “dykes.” And unlike men, if girls and women are vocal about liking their own physical appearance, they are conceited.

You almost never hear a teenage girl say “I look so great today!” and I think this is sad.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing; it doesn’t have to be a matter of berating yourself or bragging. There is lots of room in between.

There are lots of opportunities for girls and women to take pride in their achievements, their desires, their gifts, their brainpower, and their looks.

Complimenting ourselves doesn’t need to feel awkward or wrong. It feels that way at times because of how we’ve grown up, what we’ve been taught, what we’ve witnessed, and how others have reacted.

What’s wrong with being confident? Nothing.

I would love for every woman to take a stand for her own awesomeness. Why hide it? Why belittle it? It’s a great disservice and it perpetuates the stigma to which we’ve all grown accustomed. Let’s change and be proud.

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Arielle is an MSW, LSW, writer, and blogger. She is a Hospice Social Worker, widow, stepmomma, and wife. She has professional experience with eating disorders, domestic violence, grief and loss. She loves her work, her family, her cats, and her dog! She most often writes about grief, loss, end of life issues, and suicide. Gratitude fuels her every move.

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