We know that self-esteem is an issue for many UK women. But although society still has a long way to go, Stylist’s own research has revealed an encouraging discovery in the way our confidence develops as we get older.
Thanks to the onslaught of damaging messages outputted by the media, consistently targeting women in the spotlight with headlines about their appearance, it’s not hard to believe that when speaking to women between the ages of 25 and 40, we found that 30% said that they have less than average levels of self-esteem.
Our research shows that this lack of confidence extends to many areas of our lives. Unsurprisingly, thanks to the restrictive beauty standards that our society dictates, appearance is a big factor of this with 81% of women saying they feel insecure about the way they look in photos. While a further 73% say they don’t like the way they look naked.
But it’s not just about the way we look, 64% of women also say they’ve felt invisible because of their self-esteem issues, while 66% feel it’s stopped them doing things they want to.
But while many of us struggle with issues like this throughout our lives, a really encouraging discovery from our research has shown that women’s self-esteem rating goes up considerably after the age of 40.
In fact, the majority of women we spoke to said that they felt their perception of their image has improved over time, with many agreeing that as they’ve got older they’ve felt more empowered to think and speak for themselves and reject the negative media around them.
But although it’s wonderful that women are feeling more comfortable and confident in themselves as they get older, we’re on a mission to speed that process up. Why wait until we reach our 40s to feel at the top of our self-esteem game? That’s why we’ve launched our Love Women campaign, which aims to boost and empower all women by representing them better online and in the pages of our magazine.
To celebrate women that are flying the flag to push their confidence to bigger and bolder levels as they age, we’ve rounded together seven of our favourite celebrities who have spoken openly about how their self-esteem has grown over time. We hope they inspire you as much as they have us, to feel empowered whatever age we are.
Tracee Ellis Ross
Tracee Ellis Ross beautifully summed up her feelings on getting older at an event by clothing brand Chico, which celebrated its campaign on being unafraid to be bold.
“For me, turning 45, as a young girl, I had this woman that I dreamt of being. I had her in my head and I’d play around with her in my head and with certain people,” she said, reports Health.
“But the gift of age is that you actually get to have the boldness to be that person, to be that woman. And I am experiencing it now. And some of the things that I have discovered in knowing myself is that I actually like myself.”
Cameron Diaz literally wrote the book on how getting older doesn’t have to mean losing your identity. Her 2013 bestseller The Longevity Book explores the taboo around female ageing, and seven years later at 47, she’s just embarked on the exciting adventure of becoming a mum for the first time.
Speaking at the release of her book, she previously said: “I have another 40 years in me, at least. Why am I all of a sudden going to be afraid to live the rest of my life because I’m not 25? It’s up to me to embrace that. It’s up to me to say, ‘No, you don’t get to say that to me.’
“I’m going to do the best work I’ve ever done. I’m going to live better than I’ve ever lived. I’m going to love better than I’ve ever loved. And you’re going to value me more than you ever valued me at 25.”
When Nicole Kidman won a SAG award for her role as Celeste in HBO series Big Little Lies, she used the opportunity to empower older women and call out Hollywood’s ageism issue.
“20 years ago, we were pretty washed up by this stage in our lives. That’s not the case now,” she said.
“We’ve proven that we are potent and powerful and viable. I just beg that the industry stays behind us, because our stories are finally being told. We have proven that we can do this, we can continue to do this, but only with the support of this industry and that money and passion.”
Jennifer Lopez has, in the last 12 months, pulled off an award-winning performance that tested her physical strength to a new limit as Ramona in Hustlers and performed one of the most talked about, high energy half-time show’s ever at the Super Bowl. She also turned 50 last July.
Speaking to ES Magazine about entering this new decade, Lopez confirms what we all already suspected – she won’t be slowing down anytime soon, in fact, she’s speeding up.
“Did I think I would be doing this at 50? I didn’t think I’d stop, but I didn’t know that it would be the best moment of my life. We’re conditioned to think, as women, that it would be over by now.
“And the truth is, it’s not like that at all. I find myself growing and getting better every year and that’s exciting.”
Minnie Driver recently spoke out about the spate of media outlets proclaiming that for women, 50 is the new version of a different age.
Taking to Twitter, the actor wrote: “Sick of this ‘50 is the new…’ [because] 50 has always been 50. Women were previously just expected to shrivel and accept their husk.”
She added: “I suppose it must be terrifying to a lot of men if we actually burned brighter, hotter, more ambitious and emancipated from shame, the older we got.”
Tyra Banks has continued to defy the pressures put upon women in the public eye with her irrepressible body positivity, and when asked about ageist trolls she had a very clear message: “When people are saying negative things about age, they have serious age, personal insecurities.
“And I actually really feel for that person that is being very ageist and is saying something very negative because when age starts to hit them, it is going to be traumatic. And so what they’re doing is they’re throwing that negativity that they feel about their fears about ageing onto you.”
“It’s a weird thing to be […] objectified,” she said. “I think when you come to age, if you have this broad identity as that, what does it mean to get wrinkles and, like, get closer to menopause, and all these things?”
“I think you get to a point where it’s almost like your sort of pulchritude is waning in a way and your inner beauty is, like, really coming out, and so it’s this funny shift that’s happening,” she said.
“I think for me it’s more internally feeling,” she continued. “You know, as I go on in life and I feel more and more myself and less judgmental about myself, my values become clearer to me. I can be in integrity all the time, which was much harder when you’re a younger woman and you’re trying to please and juggling all this stuff.”
Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.
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