It's week two of Marie Claire's #BREAKFREE Campaign, and this week we're examining our dependence on other people's approval...
On a scale of one to ten, how much of your self worth would you say comes from other people’s opinions?
How bad do you feel when you upload an image to Instagram, only for it to receive one, two, or – at the most – three likes?
How frequently do you excitedly ask your friends what they’re wearing on a night out, only to find out that they’re ‘not that bothered’ and will ‘just turn up like this’ or that they’re ‘thinking jeans, with a tshirt’ – a fact that you feel forces you to place your new dress back on its hanger, before rummaging desperately through the laundry pile, all sweat and tears and stress?
How many times have you said ‘yes’, when you wanted to say ‘no’, or ‘no’, when you wanted to say ‘yes’?
It’s common knowledge that women are more likely to use other people’s opinions as a measuring stick for their own self worth than men. But while social media may exacerbate the problem, it’s actually symptomatic of a much greater issue: The way we talk about women.
Recent research by Fortune.com
shows that there’s a gigantic gender gap when it comes to performance reviews at work. Apparently just two per cent of men’s performance reviews criticise their personality. That’s in comparison to 71 per cent of reviews for women.
Time after time after time, we’re judged on our personality, our character, our interests and our appearance rather than our capabilities, our experience or our talents.
Our societal value is calculated by how friendly we look (‘cheer up, love’) and how agreeable we sound (‘she’s just so bitchy, isn’t she?’) versus how threatening we appear to male power (‘she’s a man-eater – a cougar type, y’know?’), or how independent we are without them (‘frigid bitch’).
If we speak up about our opinions, we’re told that we’re ‘feisty’, ‘loud-mouthed’ or ‘brass’. If we’re career-focused, we’re ‘bossy’, ‘ambitious’ or ‘pushy’. If we demonstrate emotion, we’re ‘hormonal’, ‘hysterical’, or ‘shrill’.
And while none of those adjective reflect our skills or our achievements, every single one of them is stopping us from feeling confident in ourselves.
Because online or off, being ‘liked’ by others shouldn’t be our driving force. Liking ourselves should be.
So, over the next seven days, we’re going to explore what it means to be liked, without compromising yourself. We’re going to examine the impact of social media on our self worth. We’re going to investigate ways to ignore criticism. And we’re going to put our own happiness first.
Join the #BREAKFREE discussions on Twitter and Instagram @marieclaireuk, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org