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Lies about self-esteem women tend to believe

February 6, 2011

Okay, let’s get down to bedrock: if you dig deep enough, you’re going to find something about yourself you don’t like, and you’re going to cry. You can waste years of your life doing this.

Don’t give in to the urge to do too much self-analysis, because all humans, deep down, are controlled by our basal ganglia, or the reptilian brain, a controversial idea, but probably true, given human behavior and how little control we have over it.

Then you layer what women are socialised to do and believe, and you have a mess. The Bottom Line? The primary lie we’re taught to believe is that whatever’s wrong with us is a) our doing; b) within our control to fix; and c) worthy of fixing—but according to whom, and do you trust their judgement?

I know I don’t, because I know they struggle with self-esteem too, but they do their best to distract you from their own angst by using sleight-of-hand techniques designed to dazzle. They leave you miserable, empty, clicking the T.V. remote relentlessly, seeking answers in a jar of goo or the perfect shoe.

I see this garbage all over the internuts—stuff written for women in that fake tone of voice that makes everything sound like it’s our fault if we’re not: happy; “fulfilled,” whatever the hell that means; wearing really nice clothes all the time; getting along with our annoying children, who are just as demanding as we have always been, since nothing changes from generation to generation.

What irritates me most while trying to read this stuff they push at women (and there’s TONS of it, since, as we know, Women Are Consumers) is how cheerful it always sounds, when you know perfectly well we all look like crap first thing in the morning, which only improves after injections of caffeine and chocolate.

I’m gonna look like a hag until I put my makeup on, struggle into my Spanx, and take pain relief. Am I going to feel better about myself if I follow the advice of our generational gurus (I’m thinking about Oprah here, but I honestly don’t know the details of what Oprah talks about, since I completely ignore daytime T.V. and women’s magazines, for reasons I will go into another time)? No. Probably not, since I’m impervious to suggestion, especially from women who gain and lose weight, cannot seem to maintain a primary relationship, and have a hidden sister. There are some serious issues going on there, let me tell you, that make that woman’s opinions suspect to me, but I’m pretty cynical, so if you love Oprah, that’s your business, and I’m not going to try to stop you. Just think carefully about the disparity between her message and her real life; that’s all I ask.

Anyway: self-esteem is a serious, serious issue, which usually comes down to cellulite, but can be influenced by a lot of other factors as well—most of which are entirely out of your control, so stop torturing yourself. You can’t do anything about most of what you would like to change, but you’re never going to like yourself the way you are, because if you did, all consumerism would come to a complete halt, and department stores and QVC would never sell another item. If you found Inner Peace, you would stop being the Perfect Consumer.

Think about it. Your self-esteem issues are the reason we have an economy. Without self-esteem issues, there would be nothing to buy. Your low self-esteem is what’s keeping this nation afloat.

This is why the messages we receive are so mixed; we think, oh, they support me! Yay! Someone understands my Inner Pain. Then they subtly undercut you; they print an ad for fudge brownies right next to the article about losing weight. The clothing blog that claims to “be there for you, the average woman” shows pictures of polished, uppercrust women who have never stepped foot in a Target in their entire lives, wouldn’t be caught dead in one, and disdain you because you haven’t yet been to Paris and wouldn’t know how to dress if you did go. (You can’t hear them, but they’re at lunch in cosmopolitan cities right now, laughing at you, the woman who doesn’t know that flat boots are all the rage in Europe, you poor silly cow.)

In other words, it’s all lies. You want your self-esteem back, you’re going to have to turn off this madness, but instead, we tend to doubt ourselves and cry a lot because we have cellulite. I swear to god, if women did not have cellulite, we’d probably have no self-esteem issues at all. Just remember, cellulite is largely out of your direct control, in spite of every advertisement or product ever developed to the contrary.

The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re fine exactly as you are, as am I, but we refuse to believe it.


The answer is simple: masochism. I’m propounding the theory now, in 2011, that someday scientists will locate a genetic marker for masochism, guilt, and self-doubt that will be found more often in women than in men. Self-esteem issues seem to be part of our fundamental nature, and capitalism capitalises on this fact. Who knows? Maybe cellulite has some goop in it that makes it impossible to flush worry, doubt, fear, dread, and the need to compare ourselves with others, out of our systems. I don’t know. I’m not a scientist, but if I were, instead of worrying about self-esteem, I’d be looking for a way to eat nothing but chocolate.

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