Is our self-image based on what other people think?

This is a bit of a different post today. As my first Thursday post I thought I’d talk about something that’s been on my mind quite a lot recently. Something myself and quite a few of my friends that I’ve seen recently have been thinking about a LOT. Self-worth. I feel like almost every girl I’ve ever spoken to has had some form of struggle with self-image and self-esteem. It’s a horrible internal turmoil brought on by the social pressures of modern society. Almost everywhere we go whether it’s on the internet, at work, the supermarket or even just the somewhere like the dentists we are bombarded with images of perfection, images that are edited and filtered, images that we could never realistically compete with.

A question that I find I ask myself a lot is “Is my self-image based on what I think or what other people think?”

There’s a massive statement being made at the moment, particularly within feminist circles, that women do not do things, like wear makeup and dress a certain way, to gratify men. I agree with this, we don’t. We do it to make ourselves feel more confident and self-assured… but I guess the question I’m asking is what defines the things that make us feel confident and good about ourselves?

Yes wearing makeup makes me feel more confident and when I’m buying/applying makeup I’m definitely not thinking about what men will think of it when I’m out… but why does makeup make us feel more confident?

I can’t help but think it’s because women are kind of deemed more attractive by society when they are wearing makeup? Women in the public eye are often shamed for their “no makeup face” or when they leave the gym in an outfit that isn’t considered stylish. Having this essentially hammered into our brains for our whole lives naturally ends in us internalising these standards, right?

We see videos of “amazing transformation” makeup videos on our Facebook feeds and our peers are congratulated for uploading a makeup selfie of themselves on Instagram. When we look at a girl with makeup on compared to the same girl without makeup on… which do we think is more attractive? I think most people would answer the former. Perhaps I’m wrong, I’m open to discussing this further with anyone who wants to.

To me this means that the standards we hold ourselves to and the things we do and don’t like about ourselves are essentially decided by society… not us. This makes practicing self-love incredible difficult and, to be honest, impossible for some people.

It would be a very unpopular thing to say, particularly at the moment, that my self-image is based on what other people think. Having thought about it a lot recently though, I’m not sure if saying anything otherwise would simply be a lie in my case…

I don’t necessarily think this is something I need to punish myself for. I think it’s pretty normal to be honest. I suppose the journey is trying to accept the parts of myself that maybe society won’t accept so much. I also don’t think there’s any shame in body alterations or surgery if a part of your body is causing you extreme stress, as long as the risks are weighed up with the benefits. I’m just about to get braces put on to straighten out my teeth that are a little crooked. Yes maybe that’s me conforming, but if it’s what will make me feel good about myself, to be honest, I don’t care.

Please please please share your thoughts in the comments because I appreciate that this is such a sensitive topic for a lot of people. This was just my own thoughts on something that’s been a big part of my own, and a lot of people around me, life(s) at the moment.

Until next time,

J x


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One thought on “Is our self-image based on what other people think?

  1. For me, by no means young, this statement is very true.

    I will give you a simple example from my childhood: I was not a fat child, but I was larger than my sister and larger than my parents would have liked me to be. My dad often called me fat and commented on my eating and lack of excercise, so I started to see myself as fat, even though I was definitely not the largest girl in my class and not medically overweight. Not only did I dress to hide my body, but I also didn`t care much about eating, for I felt I was fat already. Eventually I became fat, just because I behaved like a fat girl.

    On the contrary, I remember my mum making me up for the first time, for some dress up party. When she applied my mascara she said I had beautiful long lashes, which other women will envy me for one. I internalised that and from a very young age I thought of my eyes as being my best feature.

    I`m now 42 and still take what other people say as being my image, and then I chose to feed (if positive) or fight it (if not). If people said I`m always beautifully made up I would not change a thing, but if I heard someone say her lips are too red, I`d probably change them. It does indeed feel wrong to say, but don`t we all want to be perceived well, and isn`t that why we wear lipstick in the first place?

    PS: I absolutely love the layout of your blog!!


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