My mother grew up in a home with domestic violence. It greatly affected not only her self esteem but eventually mine, too. Her experiences changed her course in life and damaged her confidence. As a mother, she couldn’t provide the strong female role model my sister and I often sought in her. So much of what she learned about womanhood was through the filter of domestic violence, and it made her believe much of her role was to be obedient. When I entered adolescence, I could suddenly feel her self-conscious fears creep over me, and more than ever I became fixated on my looks. My hair wasn’t ideal. My skin was oily. My nose a little too pointy…
These insecurities held me back from being myself. I let my untamable curly hair keep me from raising my hand in class. All that acne kept me from making eye contact with others, and I dreaded meeting new people. Every time I looked in the mirror, I only saw what was wrong with me, and it hindered much of my academic and social performances. I feared what people thought of my looks as if told everything there was to know about me, and I did all I could to fade into the background just like my mother.
I didn’t have a strong female role model encouraging me to be myself and embrace my differences which left me lost and lacking real confidence. It has taken me a long time to be comfortable with myself and not feel terrified when I walk into a room of strangers or make eye contact as I shake hands with someone. From time to time, I wonder if my life would be different, if I would be further ahead or more successful if someone had been there to inspire me. While it is pointless to consider the ifs and buts of life, I can do one thing. I can help other young women that are facing the uncertainty of adolescence and how they perceive themselves. I have three nieces ranging from age 8 to 15, and every time I see them, I try to offer them the encouragement I had always wanted.
I tell them to be comfortable in their own skin and that they cannot control what others think so it is a waste of time and energy to agonize over what others may or may not think about them. I remind them that confidence comes from within not from a new pair of jeans. As women we have to face a barrage of influences that affect our perceptions, and they are often conflicting. So much emphasis is put on our appearance with cookie cutter ideas of beauty while characteristics like intelligence, strength, or drive often have negative connotations leading to confusing and contradictory notions about womanhood. I tell them over and over how it important it is to be educated and sure of themselves. They won’t be truly happy through the validation of others. Happiness and confidence must come from being comfortable in their own skin.
By providing them a positive relationship and all the advice I have can offer from my own adolescent experiences, I hope to give them the inspiration to be happy well adjusted women. Even as adults, women face pitfalls about our looks. We obsess about our imperfections, we compare ourselves to others, and we feel the pressure of outside influences to look differently. These are learning experiences that we can share with our daughters, nieces, and other young women. We can tell them how we overcome these obstacles and cope with feelings of inadequacy. It becomes crucial to share our beliefs and values with the young women in our life so they may have a path to follow that will help them maintain their self esteem and have a solid foundation to build their sense of self upon. Young girls are very susceptible to negative feelings about their looks that can distract them from school and hurt their relationships with others. It is up to us to teach them how to set their own personal goals that will help them reach their full potential. We have to be the guardians of the next generations and show them how to accept and embrace their differences.
Part of accomplishing this is by teaching them to take pride in their looks without letting it rule their self worth. This was the biggest break through I had as an adult. When I stopped spending hours straightening and dying my hair and “contouring” my makeup to make my nose look smaller, I was so much happier. I was me and not some version I thought I needed to be. This is when I began using products made for all kinds of women and not those meant to make us all look the same. This is why Dove has been my number one choice for years. Dove has products that enhance a woman’s looks naturally and provides options to accommodate the differences in each of us. Part of being confident is feeling good about how you present yourself to the world, and Dove wants all women to put their best face forward.
The Dove Self Esteem Project has already reached over 17 million women in the last ten years, and you can help reach even more. By making a conscious effort to provide positive influences and advice about self esteem, you can help shape the women of tomorrow. Mother or father, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, you can all help encourage the young women in your life to be confident and proud of who they are. Dove’s Self Esteem Project has helpful talking points and advice on how to reach out to young girls. Help them grow their self esteem and reach for the stars.
During the month of November, Dove is a part of the Take a New Look campaign and you can download a coupon for Buy 2, Save $2 on Dove products which include
- Dove ‘Deep Moisture’ Body Wash
- Dove ‘White’ Beauty Bar (2 pack)
- Dove ‘Original Clean’ Advanced Care Deodorant
- Dove ‘Daily Moisture’ Nutritive Solutions Shampoo (12 oz.)
Sponsored post by Mirum Shopper. All opinions are my own.