Confidence Takes Courage

By Katie, 5:56 am

It makes me sad to say this, but it kind of makes sense that so many people hate their bodies.

Recently a reader e-mailed me and asked why it’s so terribly difficult for her to accept herself and her body. Part of the reason, I responded, is that when we attempt to make peace with ourselves, there are lots of forces against us. Confidence isn’t exactly encouraged in our society.

The big corporations, for example, make money off of our self-consciousness. Covergirl brings in the big bucks when we think our eyelashes aren’t full enough without their specially-formulated plumping mascara. Jenny Craig’s profits go up when we constantly think we need to lose ten pounds. Companies don’t want us to be confident because then we’ll think twice about handing over the contents of our wallets.

Sadly, our own friends and family might be on the same side as those corporations. While it’d be great if everyone we know always wanted the best for us, the truth is that when someone feels bad about herself, it’s hard for her to be truly happy for the self-assured people in her midst. Misery loves company, and in those cases confidence seems threatening.

No wonder we have such a body image issue on our hands.

I think it’s important to remember this notion – that when we practice self-acceptance, there are often forces pushing against us – because it reminds us that confidence takes courage.

Thinking you’re beautiful is an act of bravery.

Indeed, I’d go as far as to say that self-love is radical. It completely goes against the status quo, and as you step outside the box of “I’m not good enough” there are tons of people trying to push you back inside it.

Today, I’d like to tell you that you are bold. You are brave. You are courageous. No matter which advertisement tells you otherwise in the hopes of persuading you to spend your money. No matter which friend or family member wants you to feel bad about yourself just because she/he does. No matter who tries to knock you down a notch every time you manage to climb a rung higher.

Confidence takes courage. Fortunately, I’m feeling brave.

Do you think self-acceptance is a courageous act? What are the forces in your life that try to hinder you on your path toward a better body image?

This post is part of the Self-Discovery, Word by Word Blogger Series. You can participate too!

23 Responses to “Confidence Takes Courage”

  1. PJ says:

    I’m only just beginning to understand the role that self-acceptance plays in confidence and the role that confidence plays in eating disorders. I never would have thought I had a problem with self-confidence until I really started looking closely at all the terrible things I said to myself.
    Self-acceptance is very challenging. And yes, I’m going to agree with you that self-acceptance takes a lot of courage as I’m quite happy to say I’m not there yet.

    • Katie says:

      I completely understand where you’re coming from. I too never would have thought I had any kind of self-confidence problem until I started closely examining my eating issues. It’s crazy how things get covered up.

  2. Sarah says:

    Self acceptance is radical, revolutionary and a feminist act. To accept ourselves despite the fact we are told we will never be good enough. Those industries that prophet from our search for the perfection they promise. They are hoping we won’t find our true self worth otherwise they will be out of the business of selling us their lies.

    My whole path to finding a better body image is a struggle against every image I see and things I am told. I even had a post about how refusing to weight loss diet is a revolutionary act. Of course it shouldn’t be.

    • Katie says:

      YES! I think refusing to diet is incredibly radical. Thank you for this beautiful comment!

  3. Simply Life says:

    oh what a wonderful post! I’m convinced confidence is the key to about 99% of things and I’m also convinced everyone has a reason to be confident. :)

  4. I had an ah-ha moment as I read this post (that’s happened several times when reading your blog :-) . What I realized is that, on some level, self-confidence was both not modeled nor encouraged in my family. And so yes, it has very much been an act of courage…and it reminds me of something Geneen Roth said in Women, Food And God:

    “Women can’t imagine a world in which they stop dieting or trying to fix the size of their thighs…. They have whole friendships built on commiserating about the 20 pounds they have to lose and the jeans that are too tight and the latest greatest diets. They fit in by hating themselves.”

    AND

    “I felt as if I were sinning by announcing to the world/myself that I could trust myself.”

    And so being confident and accepting oneself can feel like a betrayal of the sisterhood!

    • Katie says:

      Geneen Roth nails it again. I dream of the day more women can bond over self-love and acceptance instead of self-hatred…we’re getting there, I think!

    • Alexis says:

      That statement about THE sisterhood wanting it’s members to be frightened little mice is really sad!

      I grew up in a severely abusive home were I had the role of the stupid, sensitive, incompetent but lovable one. This brainwashing had always overshadowed my life. Not until my father died and the “bright ones” were completely lost did I see who I really was. I finally see myself as ppl outside my family see me. Strong, competent, think on her feet, take charge kind of person.
      Right now, I’m in the numb stage of this experience. Over the grief and anger of believing the relentless brainwashing, but not yet excited about the future. I wish I could hibernate like a bear for a while. But now I’m the head of the household that convinced me I’m stupid and helpless. So I can’t…

      • Katie says:

        It sounds like you’re in a really challenging situation, Alexis. I hope that through all of the pressures and responsibilities you must be facing right now, you are able to enjoy and embrace this process of getting to know yourself more deeply.

  5. Yay! I love this post, Katie! I totally agree that confidence requires courage, and that self-love is radical. And I’m so glad that you’re feeling brave, both for you and for those of us who read your words and want to follow suit!

  6. McKella says:

    You’re so right. Self-acceptance takes guts because it means going against socially accepted ideals. It’s a violation of a social norm to WANT to fit those ideals and focus on bigger things. It takes guts to admit that those norms even exist and that they’re wrong.

  7. Katie, I 100 percent agree! I think people are also taken aback when you’re happy with yourself because self-criticism is another expectation in our society. Like you said, when you’re unsatisfied with yourself, companies profit. A positive body image is an act of bravery, and it’s one that anyone can achieve. We just have to realize what stands in our way and work to overcome those obstacles.

    • Alexis says:

      ITA.
      We can’t be satisfied with ourselves cus that would mean we are… satisfied. We aren’t striving to be better ppl. We aren’t working hard to improve. That is a huge sin in our puritanical society.
      “There is always room for improvement.” How about if I’m happy with what I have. Do I have to go to bed every night reviewing what can be improved on? And who exactly is judging this improvement? And who is this improvement being judged against? The soccer mom who’s cupcake frosting in always perfect?

  8. Kelly says:

    I think self love is one of the hardest things to achieve. It is easy to love others but to love yourself takes a lot of confidence and when I see it in other people it is refreshing! I love to see confident women. I don’t have that kind of confidence so when I see other people owning it I am always in awe!

  9. Alexis says:

    Who are my lashes supposed to be full and luxurious for, exactly? The kid at the bank who processes my check deposit? Honestly! Sheesh!

  10. Lisa says:

    I LOVE this line, Katie! – “Confidence takes courage. Fortunately, I’m feeling brave.”
    You go, girl! :)

  11. Nicole., RD says:

    I think the media plays such a huge, subconscious role in the self-hatred that exsists. It’s sad! Confidence really does take courage and I am proud to say that I have made major strides in that over the years. I am so proud that I make decisions every day, at every meal, for every workout that I know make me stronger and healthier inside and out…in the name of health, not image!

  12. Megan says:

    It does take courage to be confident. It also takes constant vigilance. I thought I have overcome some of my harshest self-criticisms and low self-esteem triggers. But, recently, I was really tripped up by some things going on in my life, and I found myself mired in self-hatred before I even knew what was happening! Like Nicole says, above: it takes making the decision every day – several times a day – for self-acceptance and self-confidence.

    • Katie says:

      I completely agree, Megan. I’ve often found that just when I think it’s smooth sailing, that thought or feeling of self-doubt pops right back up. It’s a constant process.

  13. Cara says:

    Another great post, Katie. Confidence does take courage. I think one of the biggest challenges in displaying confidence is making sure it doesn’t come off as snobby-ness or self-righteousness. Women can be so catty about that, you know?

  14. [...] Confidence Takes Courage (by Health for the Whole Self) [...]

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