A strong sense of self can be a bitch to create in today’s society, particularly for women. We’re taught from a young age that our most valuable currency is our appearance—that playing the part of what it means to be a woman will ensure our worth and safety in this world.
With so much emphasis placed on our shells, we often neglect the effort of discovering who we are beneath the surface and acting accordingly.
Quite honestly, the notion that I needed to do such a thing was foreign to me until my early to mid 20s. There’s a multi-dimensional, complex human enveloped by this body of mine? Who knew?
I focused so much of my energy on molding my physical body to societal standards that I failed to realize I had unconsciously done the same with my personality. A once confident and carefree child became a young woman afraid to establish boundaries and fearful of speaking her mind.
Lest I be labeled a bitch.
You see, growing up as a female in today’s world, we’re taught that our personalities must become small and that we exist to appease others.
No one wants to be “that girl”—the one with a bold and boisterous personality who takes no shit, who shines light on her intelligence, who asks for help, who freely shares her thoughts and opinions, who says “no” when she needs to take care of herself or when she simply doesn’t want to.
As a result of showcasing these remarkable traits, we risk being labeled as “too much”, too outspoken, cocky, needy, selfish, or having too much masculine energy.
We’re often expected to be docile, quiet, sweet, and to exist for the benefit of others. People pleasing, anyone?
***For the record, there is nothing wrong with these qualities—I regularly inhabit these, but this is an authentic expression to me. Similarly, inhabiting the less stereotypical female qualities may be inauthentic to some, and that's a-ok!
The more we quell our true selves, our authentic personalities, our needs, and our desires, the more we internalize the notion that our value and worth is based on our appearance. Essentially, we’re led to believe that the world doesn’t care about who we are—only what we are.
As a result of this conditioning, all of our energy is put into molding our bodies, our minds, and our expressions of ourselves into that which will provide us safety, value, and love.
In reality, we’re left with anything but. Rather, we’re often met with depression, anxiety, confusion, low self-esteem, competition with other women, and a severely deflated version of ourselves.
Making the Shift
If we shift the focus of our value and worth to who we are beneath the surface, we begin to understand that we are SO much more than our bodies.
We learn about our own personal values, our interests and dreams, our strengths and weaknesses, our unique quirks and qualities, our conditioning, how to enforce boundaries with others, how to express ourselves openly and freely, the people we do and don’t want in our lives, etc.
There may just be a salty, funny, loud, opinionated, quirky, or commandeering woman waiting to reveal herself.
By uncovering these qualities as they ring true to you and slowly expressing them (baby steps usually work best here), we begin to place less importance on our appearance.
The more we hone in on who we are, who we want to be, and take ownership of this development, we eventually begin shift our own sense of worthiness from our appearance to our internal landscape.
Thus, food carries less emotional weight, and we begin to view it as our ally in nourishment, enjoyment, and connection.
We place less emphasis on food, as it’s no longer viewed as the gateway to our self-worth.