Does your self-esteem plummet around the thin and beautiful?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Harriet Frew
25th June, 20150 Comments
You are at a summer bbq and you had been feeling relatively happy with your lot; positively chirpy in your spirits as you mingle with old friends, sipping ice cold Pimms and nibbling on luscious, red strawberries. You feel relaxed and content, looking forward to a sociable evening ahead of you.
Then, you spot ‘her’ across the room. This is someone that you don’t know but she obviously knows your hosts. She looks beautiful and incredibly slim, confident and smiling in a fitted dress that enhances her body shape admirably. She has high sculpted cheek bones; willowy legs and a tiny waist. She also looks friendly, likeable and with a magnetic personality. People are around her laughing and seem engaged with what she has to say. Without your consent, your feelings of goodwill and contentment unexpectedly sink like a stone to the seabed. You are suddenly aware of feeling fat, frumpy and insignificant. Part of you can recognise that your comparisons might be very illogical or unhelpful, but you can’t stop them.
You start to criticise the way you look, as a wave of self-loathing descends. Your trousers start to feel tight and uncomfortable. You regret throwing on your favourite shapeless top that although is very comforting to wear; doesn’t really exude style or finesse. How can you possibly compete with someone that looks so gorgeous? You feel ashamed of yourself for having these thoughts; whilst also feeling irrationally angry at this stranger for looking so good.
Five ways to cope when your self-esteem crumbles around good looking people:
1. Recognise that you are putting this person on a pedestal.
Yes, they may be fortunate to be blessed with incredible beauty or a pretty face. They may also have many positive attributes. However, like everyone, they are not perfect. They will have their own weaknesses and struggles. This is just another human being who actually has flaws too, just as you do. It is unfair for you to compare yourself. You may well have qualities that this person does not have. As you can, try and keep perspective.
2. Do not assume that just because someone is genetically blessed that this will be accompanied by rock solid self-esteem.
Beautiful people can unintentionally provoke envy and jealousy from others. People sometimes assume that aloofness; arrogance or self-involvement might be associated with beauty. In turn, this can result in someone feeling quite isolated or disliked for the way they look. They can also feel objectified and only valued for attractiveness. This can leave someone wondering if people really like them for themselves.
Think about the person beneath their outer presentation.
3. Understand where your comparisons are rooted.
Sometimes, as a child or adolescent you might have felt inferior with regards to your looks in relation to a sibling or close friend. Maybe you were bullied in relation to your physical appearance? This may have left you feeling inadequate or second-rate. You may have felt unattractive or unlikeable, and this may understandably have had a long lasting impact on your self-esteem.
Consider the past and recognise how these experiences may be affecting you in the present and causing you to react more strongly.
4. Often, our first impressions of people do not translate into how we feel about them for the long-term.
To begin with, physical features may be very noticeable. Once you get to know someone though, it is likely that you will be much more focused on character; personality and your connection with them, rather than how they look. If you think about your closest friends today, I am sure their attractiveness has far less importance than their other qualities.
5. Just because someone else is beautiful or has a fit body, it does not take away the qualities that you have personally.
If you feel that this does, think again about where this may come from? Have you been compared to someone in the past and this has left you feeling inferior? What is this really about? Also, think about what it really means to be attractive. Confidence; posture; style; communication and energy for life all contribute significantly in how we perceive another to be. Physical appearance is just a piece of the whole picture.
If you are reading this and are really struggling with your confidence and self-esteem in regards to how you look, then you may wish to think about getting some further support.
About the author
Harriet Frew is a counsellor, blogger, writer and enthusiast in supporting people with eating disorders. She has worked in the NHS; private practice and in the voluntary sector; working in the field since 1999. Harriet now works privately in Cambridge and London.
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