This week an awesome blogger, Kayli from the blog the letter kay, wrote an inspirational and powerful post about women confidence. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.
As a women’s studies minor, there is nothing more interesting to me than studying genders and their differences based on how society perceives them. I remember being in my first women’s studies course about two years ago. Every day we discussed a new topic related to gender and/or sexuality.
On one particular day, I remember the deep and powerful discussion we had on confidence. It was interesting to note the stark differences between men and women, especially in the workplace. During meetings, men tend to interrupt more and dominate the conversation whereas women typically remain on the sidelines. If a women were to speak up, they are considered to be less competent while a man who speaks up is considered more competent. Why is this so?
Society has put this expectation on women that they are to remain silent or in the background while men do all the talking. Women are expected to be kind, humble, and quiet while it’s more accepting for a man to raise their head and their voice.
Because of this, many women tend to struggle with confidence. It’s hard to speak up when the odds are so stacked against you. I know that when I was younger (and I’ll admit, even sometimes still today), I’ve struggled with raising my voice and speaking up for fear that I may get judged or perceived differently. But, it truly doesn’t have to be that way! Luckily, although still few, more and more women are starting to get into higher ranking positions in the workplace and in the public eye. Thanks to the feminist movement, women are having their voice heard and are really enacting some change both socially and politically. Women are starting to overcome this “confidence obstacle” and are finally taking hold of the conversation.
Take Emma Watson, for example. Now a well-known feminist and human rights activist, Emma opens up in a recent interview about her life that was once plagued with self-esteem issues, especially regarding beauty.
“I, as a 21-year-old, was riddled with insecurity and self-critiquing,” she explains. “Some of my friends still are. I realized that I didn’t like friends taking photos of me when I wasn’t working and I actually got in a fight about this issue. And I wondered, why is this bothering me? Why does this make me so insecure? And I realized it’s because I can’t even reconcile myself with my own image on the front of these magazines.”
Now, a huge voice for feminism, Emma has overcome those struggles. She says that after realizing the unrealistic beauty standards that media imposes on women, “it’s probably made me more beautiful and more confident as a result because I’m not carrying that anxiety any more. I don’t think it’s weird any more that I don’t look like myself on the cover of a magazine.”
So, how can you do this? Like I said earlier, I still struggle in certain situations, but honestly, I am definitely better than I was before studying women’s studies. I find it easier to speak my mind and be a leader by changing little things from the words I say to even my posture. Here is my little list to help you regain that confidence:
Stop saying sorry
I cannot stress this one enough, for it probably hits home for a lot of us. Not only are women expected to remain quieter, but also apologetic. Do you find yourself saying “sorry” all of the time, even when you don’t think you really did anything wrong? You’re not alone. A 2010 study in the journal Psychological Science states that “women have a lower threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior”. As a result, we feel the need to apologize for things that don’t even need a real apology.
In the past, I have found myself saying sorry, like “I’m sorry, but can you turn the air up?”. “I’m sorry, but can you grab me a napkin?”. Be more assertive and really think the next time you are tempted to say sorry, for you probably did nothing wrong. Live life unapologetically.
Change your posture
I can still her my parents bugging me to stand up straight, but what’s changed since 7th grade is that now I know why. It’s not just to avoid back problems, but to also appear more confident. Even if you are feeling nervous or intimidated deep down, standing up straight and holding your head up high will truly make that difference. And not only will you look confident, but you will even feel a difference. Don’t be afraid to keep your chin up.
Find your passion
There is nothing like finding that thing that makes your eyes light up just thinking about it. For me, obviously feminism and women’s studies is that area in my life that I have such passion for, and it has really helped me find out more about myself. Plus, I feel the desire to speak up and write about it! Find something you love. It may take a little exploring, time, and effort, but I guarantee that if you keep searching, you’ll find it. I mean, it took me until my freshman year of college to realize this passion of mine. Finding that niche and expanding on it will give you a reason to find that confidence. It will give you a reason to talk about it and move others to feel that way, too.
Rise above it
As a woman, you have a lot of obstacles thrown your way simply because of your gender. After studying the way society treats and perceives women and femininity, I realized that every obstacle is something that you just need to rise above. You can overcome anything, especially if you know what that thing is. I didn’t realize a lot of problems I faced as a women simply because it was so engrained in me (like saying sorry!). But now, the John Mayer lyric really resonates with me: “I just found out there’s no such thing as a real world/just a lie you’ve got to rise above”.
It won’t come all at once, but if you work on building these habits, you’ll notice a change over time. You’ll feel better, both inside and out. You’ll be able to speak your mind, unapologetically. Keep working at it, and soon you’ll be dominating any room you walk in. Keep your head held high.
If you enjoyed reading this heart touching post, check out Kayli’s blog!
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