For some of us, it’s not feeling quite comfortable in our bodies. Others wonder if they’re truly attractive or lovable, especially if they’re dealing with loneliness. Introverts struggle with shyness before going out to a party with lots of strangers. Even the most confident and happy people can become weak in the knees looking at Instagram feeds and Facebook updates of friends who just seem to be having more fun, hotter bodies, better lives. Whatever it is, we all know that feeling of not being good enough.
Then there are very few people who seem to feel like a million bucks all the time. We all know that girl friend who might not be the prettiest or the slimmest, but has so much confidence that “radiance” is the word that comes to mind. The secret to becoming a “Phenomenal Woman,” as the great Maya Angelou wrote, isn’t “becoming” one at all–it’s knowing that you’re already a phenomenal woman.
Whether your hair is curly or straight; whether you’re tall or short, skinny or curvy; whether you are poised or goofy–you already have everything that makes you a stunning, intoxicating, unforgettable specimen of a woman (or a man, I know you’re out there like a blue unicorn, male Peaceful Dumpling). The only secret is owning that fact.
Though now I’m for the most part a well-adjusted and confident woman, I was not born this way. Middle school was the worst: while all the cool girls wore tight, flared Abercrombie pants that could hardly qualify as uniform at our Catholic school, my mom bought me like the only remaining pair of high-waisted “slacks” at Dennis Uniforms (approved by the nuns and 100% chastity-inducing). I was so deprived of opposite-sex interactions that I practiced “slow dancing” with my pillow. Then I discovered mascara in high school, and little by little, it got easier–I even got my first ever boyfriend two months into freshman year (a senior! score!).
If there’s anything I learned over the next dozen years of dating, confidence and passion are the most attractive things. So how do you become confident? Here are a few ways to start:
1. Wear red lipstick–All sorts of “studies” have shown that men pay more attention to women with red lips, prefer them to pink or brown lipstick, yada yada. I feel as though research grants were grossly misused in proving something so self-explanatory, but whateva. The important thing is that women feel more confident when they are wearing a red lip. It’s iconic, timeless, bold, and sexy: it symbolizes powerful femininity. There is a reason why Elizabeth Arden created a red lipstick to empower American women during WWII. As Elizabeth Taylor said, “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.”
2. Fake it til you make it–You don’t feel confident but other people don’t have to know that. And pretending to be confident can actually work like a positive self-fulfilling prophesy. When I’m under stress, I like to envision an idealized version of me–more confident, talented, and cool as a cucumber–and act how she might act in that situation. And it’s not just the regular people who do this–think about Beyonce and Sasha Fierce! If even Queen Bey employs an alter ego to up her game, you are totally allowed to do the same.
3. Don’t blame your age–…or your size, state of your hair, etc. Age should never be an excuse for anything. You can be beautiful, sensual, lovely, at any age, weight, or what-have-you. And if you don’t have any excuses, what are you waiting for?
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling; Christian Gonzalez via Flickr