Female self-esteem is a slippery topic that I think about a lot in my collegiate atmosphere. Surrounded by thousands of other young women, self-esteem (or lack thereof) is the silent motivator behind a lot of good (and bad) decisions.
I went to a darty (a party during the day, for those of you non-Alabamians reading) on Saturday and was reminded of just how detrimental a misperception of “confidence” can be.
Darty attire varies vastly, ranging from jean shorts and a tee to leggings and a flannel (almost exclusively paired with a pair of Converse, thanks to their astonishing capacity for both style and comfort).
Amidst my casual fraternizing with friends donning jerseys, Hawaiian shirts and other more festive choices, I was confronted with the all-too-familiar horde of pre-freshman 15 females.
How does one recognize this species in the wild? Most typically identified by a low-cut body suit and what can only be properly classified as denim panties, the freshmen girls are always within a spandex inch of flashing some private part.
Eliciting eye rolls and hushed whispers, the body-suit brigade strolls in with heads held high and shoulders flung back. Proud to be ogled, I can only imagine the satisfaction they feel as onlookers raise eyebrows.
This, in essence, is the problem with messages about what it means to be a “confident” woman.
I love the Kardashian clan. I think they’re entertaining, excessive and fashion-forward, and one of my guilty pleasures is stalking Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat to see how many consecutive selfie videos she’s posted in the last 24 hours. She regularly wears high-waisted leggings with a Calvin Klein sports bra as a casual outfit, and she changes her hair color more often than I change my underwear.
Is Kylie Jenner hot? Yes. Is she confident? Probably. Should any regular person ever try to imitate her style choices? The answer is a resounding no.
I understand that women should be able to wear whatever they want and behave however they please. That’s not my issue with the half-naked bod squad. My issue with the way those young women carried themselves was that they weren’t dressing that way for themselves — they were dressing that way for everyone else.
The distinction between “I just like wearing bathing suits as clothes” and “I’m exposed because I want attention” is determined in how you present yourself. The leader of the pack, most scantily clad and heavily intoxicated, spent majority of her day dancing alone atop a table. I don’t think I saw her actually speak to anyone, outside of shouting to the boys standing beneath her as she flaunted her half-dressed body.
I want to make it clear that my recollection of these events is not motivated by jealousy or judgment. I simply seek to make the point that female confidence is often misappropriated.
We have to stop acting like this is somehow empowering or liberating. If I can see the entire bottom half of your butt cheeks, I can almost guarantee that I’ll be too distracted to listen to anything you say. Justifying this behavior by referencing powerhouse females in show business like Beyoncé or Kim K. is worse than useless, because they’re entertainers. Just because they may dress like that on stage doesn’t mean they dress that way to drink beer with friends in a backyard.
Instead of seeking to appear unattainable, seek to appear approachable. Not a single one of those half-dressed girls conveyed a shred of confidence to me — the message I heard, loud and clear, was, “I need attention.”
It’s counterintuitive, but to me, the girls in oversized tee-shirts and running shorts appeared infinitely more comfortable with themselves and at ease.
Confidence is something derived from within and projects a sense of self-acceptance. I’m not saying risqué outfits imply a lack of self-esteem, just that it’s very obvious when someone is dressing a certain way to garner male approval rather than for their own pleasure.
Parading around half-naked insinuates that you don’t think anyone would cast a second glance your way otherwise. It says your personality isn’t enough on its own to capture anyone’s attention. It leaves nothing to the imagination, and it sends a clear message about how you feel about yourself.
I get it, you’re trying to make a statement, but it’s getting lost in translation.
The fine print: