Numerous factors can affect female self-esteem, including personal relationships, upbringing, images in the media, and psychological disposition. While most cultures have expectations for how both men and women should look and act, women tend to be put under more overt pressure to achieve such ideals. Both men and women can experience issues with low self-image, but female self-esteem seems to be a more widely explored subject.
Interpersonal relationships may have one of the largest impacts on female self-esteem, as women often judge themselves based on how they are seen by others. A woman with healthy, supportive relationships is more likely to have higher self-esteem than one with unhealthy, degrading relationships. An emotionally abusive spouse can cause long-term damage, causing the woman to see herself as her abuser presents her. Even friendships with other women who choose to insult rather than compliment each other can have a large impact on self-esteem.
Upbringing is another major factor in determining female self-esteem. Even if a woman’s parents are not outright emotionally abusive, years of minor criticisms can build up and hinder her ability to view herself in a positive manner. For example, if a woman’s mother always compares her to a sibling, criticizes her decisions, or point out her flaws on a regular basis, the woman may come to think that her choices are not valid. On the other hand, growing up in an environment where the woman is told she can do nothing wrong, that every choice she makes is perfect, and that she is the prettiest and smartest in her class can also negatively impact self-esteem by causing her to set unrealistic expectations for herself.
The media plays a large role in determining female self-esteem, as it often portrays women who appear flawless. Female celebrities are often thinner and appear in better physical shape than the average non-celebrity woman. They have a professional team of make-up artists, photographers, and image editors to ensure that they appear without a single blemish. Women see these images of flawless women whenever they turn on the television, go to the movies, or flip through a magazine, and many feel pressure to live up to the standard set by the media.
All the factors involved in determining female self-esteem depend on a woman’s psychological disposition and general personality. Some women can develop the highest quality relationships and have an ideal upbringing, yet still suffer from low-self esteem due to depression or anxiety. On the other hand, some women can suffer through abusive relationships and an upbringing filled with criticism, yet still exhibit a healthy sense of self because their personalities and way of thinking allow them to continue to see the positive aspects of themselves.