I was really inspired by a few of the feminist books I’ve been reading, and I realized there’s something really important missing from most of the leadership/business books out there- a thing specific to women. And that’s the point of confidence. Let me clarify: most books talk about having confidence, but I think women, in particular, have an issue with body image and their appearance in general. Why do I feel this way? Besides personal experience, the fact that calling a woman “ugly” is used as a reason she acts the way she does/says the things she does, seals the deal for me.
Why is this a problem? I think it gets in the way of doing your job, and functioning/success in general. I mean, we have a ton of stuff to worry about already when being in a position of leadership- why the hell would you add another thing to the list? But we all do it.
Goal: We shouldn’t let comments about the way we look shake us up. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we know it totally would. I mean don’t get me wrong. Most women are really good at coping and covering it up/not let it affect business as usual, but when we’re in the bathroom crying about the comment/bitching to our girlfriends that night about it, that’s still precious time that’s wasted. And it shouldn’t.
What’s the problem? Women, and I have to say this is especially true of women in India, seem to have an incredibly low self esteem- particularly about the way they look. And it is disturbing. Lets just put it this way- I have never been in a conversation, in either India or the US, where we talk about the things we LIKE about our bodies. EVER. That conversation NEVER happens. And it baffles me.
So Anu, what’s the solution? I think women, and I’m talking 99% of the population, should realize that they are really attractive. I have VERY RARELY come across a woman and thought, MY GOD SHE IS HIDEOUS. I mean, I can’t even think of one time. Ok I take that back, maybe on Greys Anatomy or on ER when someone gets pulled out from a burning car or something. That’s about it. Here’s the thing: There are a billion ways women can change the way they look to suit their tastes. I mean we’re talking everything from waxing, threading, makeup, hair straighteners, body shaping clothes, skin creams, to more extremes like botox and cosmetic surgery. Do I advocate those things. No- I’m just saying they are out there IF YOU REALLY WANT THEM. The point I’m trying to make is that you take the same woman, and on a scale of 1-10, she can look like a 1, and THE SAME WOMAN CAN LOOK LIKE A 10. We all have that potential. Speaking from experience, (as someone who has been confused for a guy, and someone who has also been confused for a (female) model), women can look however they want to look.
Where am I really going with this? At the end of the day, I think all women should accept the honest to god truth: we are all attractive. And the sooner we internalize that fact, the sooner we can get on with our lives and worry about other more important things.
Anu, that’s nice in theory, but seriously, I just feel really unattractive sometimes. I know, sometimes I do too- trust me. And I think it would be weird if we didn’t. So I figured I would put together a list of things that have helped me out in the past.
- Start a journal and write down 3 things you like about yourself every day: I know that sounds stupid, but speaking from experience, it really works. Back Sophomore year of college, I felt terrible about myself. Like really bad. So I decided to take matters into my own hands, and I forced myself to write 3 things I liked about myself every day. It was really hard at first, but then, as time went on, it got easier and easier. I progressed from 3 things to 5 things, to things that I did that I was proud of, to things I would like to do in the future that I didn’t think I could do before. I stopped after a few months, because the purpose had been accomplished. I had trained myself to start looking at the good things- not just myself, but in life in general. That was the year I learned to love myself. It’s always a work in progress, but that was the foundation for it all. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be where I am if it hadn’t been for that exercise.
- Invest in a good hair straighter/curling iron: Basically, just do something different to your hair. It sounds really lame, but seriously, having good hair (or hair that you absolutely love) does wonders. Maybe it’s an Indian thing, but I’ve always hated my frizz. It’s one of those things that I could either choose to love, or choose to do something about. I’m still in the process of loving my waves (in a perfect world I’d be there already, but still I’m working on it), but if I want instant, my god I look great, I straighten my hair. I bought this straightener junior year of high school, and I still think it was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. I absolutely love it.
- Pick clothes that flatter your body: It’s amazing what a difference clothes can make. One show that I really love/makes me really happy, is What Not To Wear: India. (I like the American version too, but I feel like the Indian one is better somehow- probably just nicer and less snarky). It’s AMAZING what clothes can do, whatever body shape you are. I think that’s the thing I like about the show- they never tell you to change the way you look, lose weight etc…they just teach you how to dress for your body shape. Which is awesome. If you need help getting started, here is where you can figure out your body shape, and it even gets you started on how to dress your body type.
- The Gym: I know that this one is a touchy subject, but honestly, when I work out on a regular basis, I feel good about the way I look. The funny thing is that I rarely look very different from what I do when I don’t work out- it’s more a mental thing. Not only am I doing my best to stay fit/healthy, I am less stressed/love the world (including myself) more after I let the endorphins take over.
- Makeup: Along the hair straightening vein, Mascara, Eye liner and some blush/bronzer works wonders. In 10 minutes, you feel like a million bucks. Or at least I do.
Anyway, whatever it is that you do, I think the goal should be to learn to love yourself. Because once you do that, I think it makes everything else, including managing people/a business, much easier.
I think we would all do each other a favor by loving ourselves just a little (or a lot) more. Like I said, you’re probably already super attractive- just act like it!