What Factors Affect Female Self-Esteem?

Nicole Etolen

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.

Numerous factors can impact female self-esteem.
Numerous factors can impact female self-esteem.

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.

Emotionally abusive spouses can create long-term damage.
Emotionally abusive spouses can create long-term damage.

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.

In general female self-esteem is more tied in with weight and body image than male self-esteem.
In general female self-esteem is more tied in with weight and body image than male self-esteem.

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.

Interpersonal relationships may have one of the largest impacts on female self-esteem.
Interpersonal relationships may have one of the largest impacts on female self-esteem.

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.

Excessive criticism by parents while growing up can lead to low self-esteem in adults.
Excessive criticism by parents while growing up can lead to low self-esteem in adults.
Women often feel more compelled to stay fit in order to be attractive.
Women often feel more compelled to stay fit in order to be attractive.
Girls often face more issues with self-esteem than boys during adolescence.
Girls often face more issues with self-esteem than boys during adolescence.
Acne can affect the self-esteem of teens.
Acne can affect the self-esteem of teens.
Dating success is often tied in with self-esteem.
Dating success is often tied in with self-esteem.

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Discussion Comments

candyquilt

Out of all the factors mentioned, physical appearance must be the number one factor affecting female self esteem. The same probably goes for men too.

SarahGen

I hold my parents responsible for my low self esteem. Unfortunately, they did not know how to raise children. I was criticized about everything growing up. If I failed to understand a school lesson, I was yelled at. Whenever I made a mistake, my mother compared me to my aunt whom everyone saw as a failure. On the other hand, when I achieved something, it was never mentioned. Now one ever said "good job."

Anyone who grows up in this type environment will have low self esteem. I wish couples had to go through intensive testing and training before they were allowed to have children. The kind of psychological harm that some parents cause their children is unbelievable. I don't plan to have children for this reason. I don't know if I can raise children well and I certainly wouldn't want to repeat my parents' mistakes.

turquoise

Friends definitely have an important affect on a woman's self esteem. Friends should bring out the best in one another and should accept and value one another no matter what.

I used to be friends with a girl who had very high self esteem. In fact, she was a bit vain and selfish. She used to criticize my appearance and the way I walked and talked. I don't know why I stayed friends with her, but during that period, my self esteem and confidence plummeted. I felt worthless. I realized that I don't want a friend who constantly points out my flaws. I want a friend who is positive, kind and objective. I know that I made the right decision by ending my friendship with her.

We all need to choose our friends wisely. The same goes for partners because they influence us in the same way. In fact, partners have a greater influence on our self esteem since we desire to be accepted and loved by our partner.

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