This is quite a tricky topic to tackle, I had to check with multiple friends to make sure I wasn’t going about this in the wrong way and risking offending anybody, which is not what I want to do. I don’t really see this topic spoken about a lot and I’m quite interested by it – why do I rely on other people to feel good about myself?
I listen to The Guilty Feminist podcast all the time, it’s my go-to when I have a bit of free time or need something to soothe me to sleep. I put on the Femininity episode the other night (it’s quite an old one) but it turned out to be pretty bloody good and I ended up not sleeping, so that worked out well. As soon as we got into the challenges of this episode, I grabbed my notebook and scribbled down the idea for this post. I won’t go into the podcast itself because I think everyone should listen to it, but it got me thinking about what, specifically, makes me feel good about myself and what determines my confidence.
Long story short: male attention.
I am aware of how bad that actually sounds, after typing it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am in no way an attention seeker. I would never ever go anywhere half naked just to get attention from men – that’s not my style, plus I have a boyfriend, so it’s not as if I’m trying to get with every guy I pass.
But let’s all be honest with ourselves here – it feels pretty good when you’re walking down the street and people notice you, not even men specifically. I tend to find that women really intimidate me though and I think they’re staring at me because they automatically hate me, so that’s not where my confidence comes from. Women would tell you if you look good anyway, it’s men that leer. Why does that make me feel confident??? What is wrong with me???
It feels good to be recognised as being attractive. Not through a wolf whistle or anything demeaning like that, all that’ll get you is the finger or a few choice words, depending on how angry I am that day. I struggled a lot with confidence in high school because I was still working out my personality and my friendships and all that crap, but I knew I wasn’t attractive. Acne is one thing, but combine that with braces and no clue how to dress for my body shape and we’ve got ourselves a travesty.
Not to come across as too big headed now or anything, but I’m pretty okay with my face. Still a bit of acne, the braces are long gone and I’ve finally grown into the massive arse I’ve had since I was about 14. [most people need to grow into their boobs or their ears. not me]
I still usually wear makeup every single day though, unless I’m not planning on leaving the house. My hair is normally styled to [almost] perfection, and I wear clothes that I see to be flattering for my body shape. It wasn’t until I stripped all of that away that I realised I was not making these choices for myself. I’m making these choices so I look appealing to other people, and they then validate my self worth for me. I was pretty much relying on this to boost my confidence and make me feel good about myself – as my friend Lucy said, we like to pretend that we are strong, independent women and we don’t need men for anything (except to open the odd jar or two) but being ignored by them can be pretty confidence crushing at times and I definitely feel that hard.
I recently decided to completely ditch the makeup, initially as a one week challenge. During that one week, I thought my confidence would fall completely flat and I would be this broken shell of a woman who felt like shit every day without her extra layer of flawless coverage. However, I had some sort of epiphany after listening to that podcast episode. Being without makeup made me realise that I was not wearing makeup for myself. I wasn’t wearing it because I enjoyed doing it and wanted to look good for myself, I was purely wearing it to look good for other people so they would make me feel good. And that is no way to live.
So, I decided to stop it. Just like that. I made a decision one day to just not care about whether or not I am ‘conventionally attractive’ to the opposite sex and feel good about myself and the skin I’m in. I’m learning to get used to my acne, looking at it multiple times a day makes it look more normal on my face and I no longer think of it as ugly. It’s crazy what a few weeks of going makeup free can do to your self esteem, especially when you’re expecting the complete opposite results.
Women are not here to act as ‘eye candy’ for men, so why do I treat myself like we are? My relationship with my own confidence was non existent, which kinda sucks because I thought I was doing so well before. It’s wrong for me to discuss being an independent women and a feminist whilst I was still trying to appeal to them so I felt better. I can absolutely confirm to everyone that feeling happy and confident in your own skin and making decisions for yourself makes you feel a million times better than if some random male was to notice your on fleek eyebrows one day.
There’s nothing that compares to making choices for yourself and knowing that you are making these choices for yourself.
I still think it’s nice to be considered attractive, and it’s nice to be noticed and to have attention from other people. But I no longer rely on that to feel confident and happy with myself. My self-worth is not defined by the amount of people that consider me attractive. My self-worth is determined by me, and nobody else.