In the previous article, we sorted out what is confidence and how it is different from self-esteem. Those thoughts are quite simple and can be applied both to males and females. But as we’ve mentioned in that article, women struggle with confidence way more often than men. That’s how we’ve obtained a new objective — to figure out why so.
Partly, we have issues with this emotion — and confidence is an emotion — simply because we are females. The unpublished research held by the University of Texas has shown how easy it is to undermine the body image of women. During the study, adolescent girls were listening to a fairly attractive woman who was complaining about being fat and unattractive. After this experiment, up to 70 percent of girls said that they would take a weight loss pill. When males were put in a similar situation, only some 15 percent of guys began feeling less confident.
The “perfect body”
The main reason why men and women react differently in such circumstances is the concept of an “ideal body”. The etalon for males is a muscular and strong body — the resemblance of a healthy human being. The perfect female body, in its turn, is often quite far from what’s considered healthy for most women.
It’s also interesting that researchers decided to work with adolescent girls because we form our beliefs and biases during this age. And as we grow older, it gets quite hard for us to change the way we perceive ourselves. So if our body image was impacted by all those airbrushed models and friends who were lucky enough to win the genetic lottery, we risk struggling with low self-esteem in our adult lives if we don’t change our opinions.
People around us
Another major reason why women feel less confident than men is that we were encouraged to be like that. Females are generally more agreeable which means we are less eager to take risks and jump into heated arguments. Again, “generally”, meaning that not every woman is like this. We are often more compassionate, attentive to the feelings of others, and willing to please people around us. These traits are great, and we should cherish and guard them. But too much agreeableness results in achieving less significant results in adult life. And the fewer achievements we get, the less confident we feel.
When we’re agreeable, we get an overall positive attitude from other people. It results in better grades, pleasant small gestures from parents, and other perks — these things encourage our agreeableness. We go through school, then we successfully complete higher education. And then we find ourselves in the real world where less agreeable people defeat us as we try to build a professional career. Precisely those men and women get that much-desired raise or promotion merely because they don’t want to be satisfied with what they have. Surely, we will feel less confident as we’re left behind because we are agreeable.
Finally, let’s not forget about perfectionism — this devil most of us struggle with. We expect ourselves to orchestrate our lives with the mastery of a goddess as we juggle our career, family, social life, health, you name it. We will inevitably fail at being perfect because we’re just humans. And that will undermine our confidence greatly.
While society impacts our confidence significantly, it’s still something we can work with. All reasons for women feeling inferior are a mix of our own thoughts and the world around us. And while it’s extremely hard to change the world, it’s much easier to tweak the way we think about ourselves. We will talk about it in the next article. Until then, take care and remember to be kind to yourself!
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