I have a tattoo on my arm that says “burn” in my mom’s italics. It’s the size of a daisy petal, and every time I type, I can see its ink. I got it for all the women in my life who burn shit down – previous versions of themselves, patriarchy, courtesy, perfection and the idea that we should fit into a small, informal box.
The other day, the informal box strangled me. For the first time in years, I went to the mall to try on a dress for a wedding. Last time I was in a locker room, I bought my wedding dress– two years ago. And I have to be honest:
Reader, it did not go well.
While shopping, I was not convinced that I was a size medium anymore, I only got the personal pizazz to try a dress from the third store. I put the zipper on and pulled a dress over my head that looked like a duvet. I could finally live inside my skin without wear and tear, but trying on dresses under fluorescent light made me a self-deprecating monster. I could barely look at my arms, and protruded from the dress duvet in a zapped descent. “What is wrong with you?” asked my inner dialogue. “What happened to your self-confidence? ”
You know what, complex ?! She fucked to the LEFT.
The constant preaching about trust in women feels a lot to me like a cage, not an act of rebellion.
And do you know what else? I’m tired of being served the “women’s self-confidence” narrative. I’m tired of trying to shrink myself, all in the name of shouting on rooftops that I’m beautiful in the eyes of society. And I’m tired of my whole world of magazines, pop culture, and professionals telling me that “having a little self-confidence” will solve all my problems.
I recently read an article in Atlantic Ocean by feminist cultural analysts Shani Orgad and Rosalind Gill called “How Women’s Self-Esteem Became a Cult” and boy did it weld a lot of truths together for me. Throughout my life, messages of self-worth have swelled like a tidal wave. The tired story that women should take up more space (but not enough to cause a ripple) shapes our culture. By doing this, we are ignoring the power that is at the root of women’s low self-esteem in the first place. That we are the problem. Problems at work? Confidence training. Do you want to feel strengthened? Self-love. Do you want to climb the latter? Lean in. Do you need a pep talk? Don’t worry, believe in yourself.
Trust is a distraction. According to the authors of the article, every message in the direction of “trust is sexy” in terms of women, “features of our unequal society as individual problems; according to the culture of trust, we must change women, not the world.”
Author’s note: I’m writing for a break here because, wow. Take a moment to read it again. “We must change women, not the world.“
The constant preaching about trust in women feels a lot to me like a cage, not an act of rebellion. The expectation of women and trust in society is a reaction to something when it should be a way to go your way. Trust is an expectation. A type. An ideal. However, we can create our existence from scratch, no matter how confident or not we want to be.
Glennon Doyle wrote beautifully about this in his novel with personal essays, Untamed. “Women who are best for this vanishing act receive the greatest praise: She’s so selfless. The epitome of femininity is to lose oneself completely. It is the ultimate goal of any patriarchal culture. Because a very effective way to control women is to convince women to control themselves. “
We can not control and trust at the same time. And society makes us feel that we can easily lose anything. So why not make a living by trusting ourselves?
The feminist cultural analysts in Atlantic Ocean the article wrote that the emergence of trust messages increased in the 2010s and still thrives today. “In a recruitment campaign in 2020, the British Army addressed potential female soldiers with the promise that joining forces would give them real and lasting self-esteem – as opposed to the superficial pseudo-confidence that ‘can be reused every morning’ as makeup or false eyelashes. ” In this context, messages of trust in society are used to produce and resist meanings about women’s bodies, psyche and behavior.
Trust is owning who we are, no matter what box we step in or out of.
Trust is not bad in itself. I know that self-confidence is associated with elements of a happy, fulfilling life. I know that manifestation of trust gives us resilience and motivation. But according to the authors of Atlantic Ocean the article, “Trust is both a culture and a cult.” If we are not careful about its expectations, we risk oversaturating its ideal. So what can we do? as individuals, do to open up opportunities for change? So we do not feel the pressure to be immutably perfect? What can we do to build trust inside instead of looking outward in a world of botox and fitness tips?
Initially, my answer is to burn shit down. Stop using self-confidence as a distraction for improvement. Live inside every mess. Exists because the human condition is pain, joy, mistakes and mistakes. Maybe we need to redefine trust as everything inside us and the inner trust we maintain. Trust is owning who we are, no matter what box we step in or out of.
The dictionary’s definition of self-confidence is “the act of trusting yourself, your abilities.” So self-made belief is not even something you can achieve or lose. Gabi Abrão, my favorite Instagram muse, wrote in one her post: “Stillid is the life force. Trust is the life force. And it’s not just fitness tips and lip gloss and pinky promises. It’s so much more profound and rewarding than that. “
We do not have to comply with the rules of self-assurance, as these rules are fabricated in everything we consume. Trust cannot be removed from us. Trust is not something we “earn”. As Gabi so eloquently writes, “Trust is ours to receive and requires no invitation or purchase. It is to be your own best friend. It is to be your confidant through all the realms of your existence.”
Confidence held my hand through the mall and chose to go with a beautiful dress in the now. Confidence was trusting in the beauty of acceptance and understanding my existence is more than external expectations. Self-love comes from looking inward and pulling the threads of our inner self to the edge of our sleeves. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote it poetically: “When we grow old … the beauty steals inward.” When we grow old and as we live now.
We do not have to comply with the rules of self-assurance, as these rules are fabricated in everything we consume. Trust cannot be removed from us. Trust is not something we “earn”.
The world needs more women who are completely out of control. Throw self-confidence, sadness, savagery, joy, all … for the wind. ‘What we need are women who are full of himself“, writes Glennon.” A woman who is full of herself knows and trusts herself enough to say and do what needs to be done. She lets the rest burn. ”
Burn, burn, burn.
Brittany Chaffee is an avid storyteller, professional empath and author. On a daily basis, she is paid to strategize and create content for brands. Outside working hours it is about a well-lit place, warm bread and good company. She lives in St.Paul with her little brother-cats, Rami and Monkey. Follow her on Instagramread more about her latest book, Borderlineand (most importantly) go and hug your mother.