"Would you consider yourself someone with high self esteem, or low self esteem?" The natural reaction when asked a question like this may well be "high self esteem of course!", but the truth may paint a very different picture.
Self esteem for women, especially, seems to be generally lower than it should be, and unfortunately far too often accompanied by poor body image. Why then are so many women subject to this deprecating state of mind? Perhaps it comes back to the natural laws of femininity. You see, a woman in her natural, feminine state has an in-built desire to radiate beauty. It's the very reason that we women wear make-up, shave our legs, wax our eyebrows, love to shop, etc.
If that desire for beauty extended to finding that which we already have, it would be an absolute blessing. Unfortunately however, the unhealthy side of that desire for beauty, is in seeking it externally and creating unhealthy comparisons to others.
This damaging act of comparison is concerning enough in its own right, but consider who we are really comparing ourselves against. Whether consciously or not, we are most certainly using the media images that we're constantly bombarded with as a benchmark for what is the 'right' size, body shape or look.
The problem with that is this; the women in the media - actresses, singers, models, etc - are in front of the camera for a living! Their livelihood revolves around how good they look with their faces and bodies featured up close and personal on giant screens around the world. I'm certain just about anyone in the same position would make it an absolute priority to ensure there isn't a scrap of fat to be seen, or a single hair out of place. They have the money, the resources and, most importantly, extreme motivation to ensure that this standard is always maintained - and all too often at the cost of their health.
The other problem with using the media as a benchmark can be found in the simple act of picking up a magazine. It only takes a quick flip through the pages of any women's fashion magazine to make even a woman with great self esteem feel like a fat pig! Between the scarily thin catwalk models, and the lighting, make up, good photography, and of course airbrushing and photoshop techniques, the end result is that we find ourselves envying a picture of a woman who isn't even real.
In fact, for a wonderful example of what's involved in creating the finished look of a model in a print advertisement, I highly encourage you to watch the video that Dove put together as part of their Campaign for Real Beauty.
Naturally none of this is to say that we shouldn't care about our appearance, or enjoy making ourselves look and feel beautiful, but simply that if we must peg ourselves against a benchmark, perhaps we should consider someone more realistic.
It's so important to keep ourselves healthy from the inside out, and that includes our mind... Don't let these unrealistic images of beauty fool you into thinking you're not good enough the way you are.
My tip for this is to make a list of everything you like about yourself from the inside out. In fact, one exercise I did was to go through my body parts one by one and write down why I loved them. I can assure you that when I got to my thighs, I found it a little challenging, but I managed to come up with how much I love that they are strong and carry me wherever I want to go!
Don't let the negative thoughts creep in, they are like a cancer for your mind... find reasons to love everything about who you are, in all your fabulous individuality!