According to a global report released by The Body Shop on International Women’s Day, one in two women across the globe feel more self-doubt than self-love. Sixty percent of those women wish they had more respect for themselves. Unfortunately, as a young woman living in her mid-twenties, the statistics don’t surprise me. I am confident in myself and my abilities but am not immune to self-doubt as a result of the new rising pandemic: the self-love crisis.
British actress and activist Jameela Jamil knows all too well the significant repercussions of low self-worth. At a young age Jamil had developed an eating disorder and body dysmorphia which lasted well into her teens and early twenties. In 2019, the Good Place star posted a 2009 image of herself to social media and admitted that at the time she believed she was fat due to ideals manifested by the media.
“I really urge young women out there to be careful about what they’re reading, what they’re seeing online, who they’re following and whose words they’re listening to,” Jamil told GRAZIA during a round table interview with fellow journalists. “[They need to] re-educate themselves about the capitalist system that has been built to destroy their foundation of self-worth. That has been deliberately chipped away at in order to disempower and distract women so that we can’t catch up as a gender.”
‘The Milennial Therapist‘, Sara Kuburic has also partnered with The Body Shop and echoes this advice.
“Perfection is not the goal, authenticity is.”
She continues, “It’s ok to ask for what you deserve. Actually, you should ask for the things you deserve. I think for women, we’re not encouraged to do that.”
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In recent years we’ve come to normalise the conversation around women’s insecurities publicly with proof in global initiatives such as International Women’s Day, movements such as #MeToo and in the media – just like this article.
But through lived experience I’ve realised that to confide in family and friends on topics such as mental health, physical health and self-esteem is far more difficult than participating passively on social media. As Kuburic says, the solution to improving our self-esteem is actually quite simple but “revolutionary.
“Showing up authentically. I know it’s a cliché answer, but sharing our personal struggles and going, ‘Hey I’m really sad today,’ would be earth shattering. Just for us to be honest about our own feelings – not to smile when we don’t feel like smiling.”
“As an identity expert, I see so much damage done when people can’t show up as who they really are,” Kuburic continues. “I think one of the greatest things that we can offer one another is just that space. And I think that conversation, once we build enough safety and vulnerability with one another we can start talking about depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, whatever it might be.”
Yes, women bear the brunt of systemic gender inequality but minority groups such as the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to have low self-love, whilst economic status also impacted self-love, according to The Body Shop. 45% of those who are unemployed and 46% of those who are not financially comfortable fall in the lowest 25% of scores according to the research. Furthermore, heavy social media users have lower levels of self-love, are more likely to compare themselves to others, and are often more unhappy with their body. Unfortunately, this is not exclusive to any one gender, race, religious belief or class.
On February 27, 2021, American actor and director Jonah Hill posted to Instagram an image of himself surfing in Malibu. The paparazzi shots were first published to a tabloid media outlet. The 21 Jump Street actor was quick to call out the publication calling it “mockery” and admitting his childhood insecurities and body image issues lasted long into his mid-thirties. Now at age 37, he says it doesn’t phase him anymore.
“This isn’t a “good for me” post,” Hill wrote on Instagram “And it’s definitely not a “feel bad for me post”. It’s for the kids who don’t take their shirt off at the pool. Have fun. You’re wonderful and awesome and perfect.”
“First of all, he looked hot as f**k in those pictures,” Jamil firmly reiterated on Zoom. “And I also think it’s a really important conversation because now that they’ve run out of space to commodify women’s bodies, our labia’s, everything has to be redesigned and fixed and changed and shortened. They’ve run out of inches on our bodies to make money out of. So now they’ve turned to men, and not just men within the LGBTQ community but also straight, cis men.”
Through Kuburic’s work as well as research conducted by The Body Shop, the struggle is equal.
“It’s equally hard for men to love themselves and that was a bit of a shock for us at the start. In my private practice it shows time and time again that men pick their bodies apart, men have a hard time loving themselves,” Kuburic says.
It ultimately begs the question: what is the end goal? For Jamil, founder of multi-media platform I Weigh, it is for the need of such place on the internet not to be needed.
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“The ultimate end goal is for I Weigh to not need to exist because we don’t just openly abuse marginalised people all the time,” she says. “I Weigh is a safe space on the internet and it’s sad that I’ve had to create one in order to protect people while they’re browsing online. The hope is that we are so successful that we become redundant.”
“You can get Botox and still be a feminist. A feminist is just striving for equality and that’s all it is,” says Jamil.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, call the National Program for Happiness & Wellbeing helpline on 800HOPE (8004673).
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