Updated: Aug 18, 2022
-Photograph by Clarke Sanders
Disclaimer: A lot of these tips can be difficult tasks if you are struggling with your mental health. Having a support group can sometimes make the tasks feel a little easier.
Self-esteem is a topic that has been on my mind a lot this past week. I remember back when I was a lot younger, my self-esteem was very low. I wasn't confident in myself, I didn't like how I looked, I was scared to try new things, and I definitely didn't like how my voice sounded. Even now, my self-esteem fluctuates from time to time. Getting to a place where the way I feel about myself is positive on most days has taken years. But how do you build that self-esteem? I took some time to gather my thoughts, and this is what I believe...
Before addressing any of that, I want to first address the privilege I do have. While my experiences and feelings are valid, it does not take away from the fact that our society idealizes Eurocentric beauty standards for women. The "ideal woman" tends to be thin with a big ass and titties, light or "lighter" skinned, preferably colored eyes, loose patterned hair, young, and so on. While those things don't necessarily make a person desirable, for some reason, at least in American society, that's what people tend to lean toward... which doesn't make sense because there is so much beauty outside of that narrow ass "standard".
I understand my privilege in how I fit into some of these societal "standards", however that doesn't necessarily equate to high self-esteem. Just because you have those certain qualities, doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to feel good about yourself. People can tell you that you're beautiful and that you're so good at this and that, but if you don't believe it yourself it's just going to go in one ear and out the other.
So, how do you feel like you're THAT GIRL?
1. Mental Shift
To me, as cliché as it sounds, it all starts with the mind. If you can't change your perception, nothing else will change. I know a lot of us have to see positive results before believing in ourselves. Maybe getting that body right, getting that job/promotion, getting that A has to happen before feeling like the sh*t. But what happens when you don't quite perform as you hoped? If you don't see the results you want?... Will you still be confident in yourself? Maybe. Will you see those things as minor setbacks if you have already established a higher self-esteem and a good perception of yourself? More than likely. What are some ways that you can reflect on the evidence that you have that you are good enough? What are some ways to make your thoughts about yourself more realistic and true? Psychology says that we have more than 6,000 thoughts a day. If a majority of those thoughts are negative and self-critical, you likely won't feel too good about yourself.
This one is pretty simple to understand, but hard to keep up with sometimes. Are you doing things that are helping you to become more of the person that you want to be? And if you are already the person you want to be, how are you continuing to better yourself? What are your habits when it comes to dealing with stress? What are your habits when it comes to clearing your mind? What are your habits when it comes to your hygiene? How can these things contribute to you feeling good about yourself?
3. What are you feeding your body?
I know we hear this alllll the timeeee, but it's true. Yes, there's nothing wrong with wanting sweets and junk foods from time to time because those things make us feel good, but the key is balance. Are you drinking enough water daily? Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? What goes into our bodies has a big impact on how we feel overall.
And speaking of things going into our bodies, if you are sexually active, are you having healthy sex? Yes, safe sex is extremely important, and so is the type of person/people you're having sex with. Is it healthy? Meaning are they a person who genuinely cares about you, supports you, speaks highly of you in and out of the bedroom (or any other places you get it in at)? Does that person create a safe space for you to be intimately vulnerable and emotionally vulnerable? Are you getting your orgasm(s)? Are they a person who you can depend on if you were in need? If not, do you have boundaries in place to not be taken advantage of mentally or emotionally? Do you have physical boundaries*? Healthy sex with healthy people (if we are sexually active) are important to how we feel about ourselves. (*this does not apply to people who have been coerced or their physical boundaries have been violated)
4. What are you feeding your mind?
What messages are you sending yourself? Constantly being down on yourself will ultimately make you start believing the bad things you tell yourself. Switch it up, start giving yourself positive affirmations. Are you surrounding yourself with people who uplift you? Are you watching TV shows that portray people like you in a positive light? Are you following social media accounts that have uplifting messages, or are you following a bunch of negative, small minded accounts?
It's easy to fall into this rabbit hole of self-doubt, low self-worth, and low self-esteem because people aren't necessarily being their true selves online. They are being the selves that they want the world to see, which is typically the good sides of things. Comparing yourself to these things can be bad for your self-esteem.
Perfect your craft! Doing things that make you happy tend to make you feel better. Doing it more often, can increase your confidence in that skill as well as your overall confidence in yourself. What is something you do in your free time? What is a hobby that you have always wanted to try or learn? If you could do one activity for the rest of your life and money and time is not a factor, what would it be?
Find a way to actively move your body in a way that is enjoyable for you. This could be dancing, roller skating, pole dancing, walking, swimming, yoga, sports, weightlifting, etc. The key is to find something that you like and makes you forget that you are exercising. Enjoyability allows for routine. Doing this regularly, even for 30 minutes 3-4 times a week can help improve mood, which can help increase your self-esteem. As you continue to stay active, you can also gradually increase your activity level, which increases the chances of seeing and feeling the results in your body.
7. Changes for YOU and YOU ONLY
We all deal with self-esteem issues from time to time, and sometimes there are things about ourselves that we don't particularly like. Who's to say that you're wrong for wanting to change those things? If there is something about you that does not make you feel confident, by all means if you are able to do so, change that sh*t. This can be learning how to do your makeup, experimenting with your hair, trying different wigs, switching up how you dress, getting in the gym, getting piercings, tattoos, cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery, all of that and more. Do you! Do what is going to make you happy in the long run, but be smart and always do research about more permanent procedures. Honestly, f*** what everybody else is talking about when it comes to YOU and the body that YOU have to live in. They are not the ones that are walking in your shoes going through the things you have to deal with everyday. Just be careful, be responsible, and be mentally and emotionally prepared for people to have negative opinions on it... Periodt.
With that being said, try to get #1 down before physically changing things about yourself. You have to be grounded in who you are and KNOW that can't nobody tell you sh*t about you... Like, you have to KNOW that sh*t. Because we alllll knowww, that when you switch things up for yourself and are feeling yourself that can attract some hating ass people and you need to be ready for it.
8. Kindness and Boundaries
Last, but not least, stay kind to people, but do not let people take advantage of you. Being rude to people for no reason is not cute. Being a hating ass bitch is not cute. Being a bully is not cute, HOWEVER, I fully support letting mf's know when they got you f***** up. I also support standing up for others who may not be able to stand up for themselves. Speak up for yourself and know when to say "no". Having a balance of kindheartedness and boundaries lets you know that you are beautiful on the inside and that you are in control of your life.
What are your thoughts on this list? Is there anything you would add or take off this list? Leave a comment down below.
Oh yeah, and remember sis....