Low self-esteem remains a prevalent yet obscure issue that affects most teenage girls and even older women. Low self-esteem is a lack of believe in oneself, and the habit of constantly finding the “wrongs” within yourself. Young girls who struggle with low self-esteem may experience depression, lack of social interest, fear of inadequacy, desperation for approval from others, lack of confidence in oneself, among many others. Low self-esteem prevents girls from exerting their full potential because they do not believe that they can be better than what they already are. For a very long time, I also struggled with low self-esteem. I was very conscious about my entire being. I usually did not share my thoughts with my friends, especially during conversations, for fear of sounding unintelligent. Whenever I was in class and had a question on the lesson being taught, I would keep my question to myself because I did not want others to think the question was not worth asking. I did not believe in myself; I had an inferiority complex. I went from home to school and back home. My struggle with low self-esteem was very dreadful, and it is an experience I would not wish upon any girl. From this decision came my inspiration for my final project.
This final GOA project aims at aiding girls in building self-esteem. To kickstart the project, I firstly needed to know why girls struggle with low self-esteem, because each girl’s reason may be unique. I created an anonymous google form that I shared with some girls at my school, African Leadership Academy, as well as girls from back home, Liberia. Questions included in the form were:
- With 1 being very low and 5 being very high, how would you rate your level of self-esteem?
- What is the reason for your response to the previous question?
- What do you think is the main reason why some girls have low self-esteem?
- What do you think are some effects of low self-esteem?
- What aids in boosting your self-esteem?
- Recall a situation that boosted your self-esteem.
- What inhibits your self-esteem?
- How could girls be aided in building self-esteem?
All of the questions above aimed at answering the primary question: how could we aid girls in building self-esteem? With fourteen responses, the average answer for the first question was 3. One respondent noted “I’m still building my self confidence, so I believe with that being the case, I consider my level of self-esteem to be in the growing stage/process.” Additionally, many of the respondents noted that the primary cause of low self-esteem is societal expectations. This means if girls do not look or act the way society expects, these girls tend to have low self-confidence and believe that it is their fault that they do not fall into society’s definition of “perfect.” One respondent mentioned that “there are beauty standards and lots of expectations that the world has for girls and when we do not fulfil them, we are treated differently.” In this case, a beauty standard would be “shaving legs,” the respondent noted. Furthermore, the girls indicated that having their friends or others say condescending things to them plays a major role in inhibiting their self-esteem. When asked how could girls be aided in building self-esteem, 78% of the respondents stressed on the importance of having support systems that constantly remind girls about their worth, or are just there to talk when girls need to have a conversation. One respondent mentioned the importance of “support groups, encouragement from people around, and motivational quotes/posts.”
From the responses, I concluded that mothers, fathers, brothers, friends, relatives, and society at large need to put all hands on deck in order to aid girls in building self-esteem. We must all be very cognisant of what we say to girls, and say only things that will promote their healthy growth. Our words have so much power, and if we use them kindly and wisely, we can make the world a much better place for girls. When girls are self-confident, they are able to exert their full potential and become presidents, start NGOs, develop innovative solutions to world problems, end world hunger, build roads and bridges, among many others. Despite the fact that society has a huge role to play in building girls self-esteem, girls also have an essential part to play. Girls need to start smiling at themselves in the mirror. They must start making conscious efforts to control their thoughts and think positively about themselves. Girls need to champion their own self-esteem journey. This is challenging, but achievable.
The next couple of charts are solutions that I have devised that everyone could use to help girls in developing their self-esteem. Read it. Digest it. Practice it. Share it. Repeat.
To the girl struggling with low self esteem:
Here is an additional resource that girls could use to aid themselves in building self-esteem. In this video, Niko Everett, a leadership coach, tells us about her journey to self-esteem, and how she had to “meet herself” (Niko Everett).
To the rest of society:
In the video below, 1:23 shows a typical example of row 5 of the chart above (a female being interrupted). Note that there might be some vulgar words.
Low self-esteem is not a situation a girl decides to be in. It is a situation that is inflicted upon her. When girls are confident, they create opportunities that make the world a better place for everyone. Hence, all of society must work together to aid girls in building self-esteem. The road to self-esteem is a rocky one, but it can be journeyed on.
Below are additional resources that aid girls in building self-esteem. I made these resources a while ago for another project.
To every girl out there, the next time you feel inadequate, remember these words by poet and cultural activist Tanatsei Gambura:
“You are water, nutrient to yourself.
Surrender and be digested.
Breathe and be cleansed.
Sit up and emulsify.
Refuse to be aborted at sea.”
Mcadams, Molly. “Signs of Low Self-Esteem in Women.” Livestrong, https://www.livestrong.com/article/41435-signs-low-selfesteem-women/.
Mendin, Dorcas. “How Could Girls be Aided in Building Self-esteem?” Survey. 19 April. 2019.
Everett, Niko. “Meet Yourself: A User’s Guide to Building Self-Esteem.” Youtube, uploaded by TedxYouth, 8 February, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOrzmFUJtrs.
Kudrow, Lisa. “Lisa Kudrow in epic speech on sexism in politics (From “Scandal” TV Show) # 70.” Youtube, uploaded by Rust Cell, 20 November, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnacqVQQt5A.