A few nights ago, I was bored and flipping through the channels when I came across one of those children pageant shows. Enough people have written about the horrors of “Toddlers and Tiaras” and the like that I don’t have anything new to contribute. But I was intrigued by one of the dads, who said he encouraged his daughter to be in pageants to help her become a confident person.
I can hardly disagree with wanting your children to have self-confidence, but it’s interesting that, for boys, self-esteem is usually associated with sports or other physical activities and, for girls, it’s aligned with physical attractiveness.
I think the idea of having to be pretty to feel good about yourself is continually reinforced for girls. I think working on confidence on every level of your life — your intellect, your personality — is more important. It’s a necessary tool to use the rest of your life.
There are far too many examples of women only being valued for their outward appearance. I recently read a study that said women who are overweight make thousands of dollars less than those who are skinny. To make matters worse, men who are overweight make more money. I argue that this is because the world has different priorities for women. It’s all about how you’re perceived.
Confidence is a funny thing. It’s amazing how quickly your life can deteriorate when you don’t feel good about yourself. Just look at the recent news of young people killing themselves because of constant bullying. It’s a sad state that teenagers are facing so much anxiety and pressure from outside forces. It makes no sense to pick on others, but it happens all the time.
This also brings up the issue of too much self-confidence. I’m sure you’ve heard the newest documentary on education, “Waiting for Superman.” One of the statistics in the film is that while American students have some of the lower scores compared to other developed countries, they have the highest confidence about those scores. That false sense of self-esteem is a scary thing, too. That end of things likely leads to people becoming bullies because they think they’re better than others.
I guess, like many other things, gaining self-confidence is walking a fine line.
Pop Culture Hijabi is a weekly column by Nadia Malik. Malik is a former newspaper reporter based in Chicago who’s now making her way as a freelancer. She spends entirely too much time watching TV and reading pop culture, fashion and TV blogs. She also occasionally consumes serious books and news. No, really. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org with “pop culture hijabi” in the subject line, follow her at www.twitter.com/nadiamalik or simply leave a comment below.