I wanted to write this post as soon as I heard Hailee Steinfeld’s new song, “Love Myself,” last month, but I was on my hiatus, so you get it now instead. When I’m at school, I don’t listen to the radio too much, so I don’t know if you’re all sick of this song because it gets overplayed or something like that, but hopefully that’s not the case, because I think this is a wonderfully confidence-positive song, a sentiment that needs to be reflected in books as well – and luckily, it sometimes is.
Since I just finished Dumplin’ a week or so ago, it’s easy to think of it when talking about confidence and books. Based on the summary, I expected Willowdean to be full of so much confidence that she could barely contain it, but that’s not quite the case – but not in a bad way. You see, Willowdean is like many people – she can seem quite confident on the outside, but things really get to her on the inside, and sometimes that leaks through. She has to learn how to build her confidence up little by little, and that’s a journey that many, many people have to deal with daily. God knows I struggle with it, and half of the things I say about how everyone needs to be confident, and how young girls especially need it more than anyone else during our age of media vitriol, can be a bit hollow at the best of times, but it’s a very important topic regardless.
I feel like one of the biggest issues surrounding self confidence and such is the fact that people – especially girls – can be shamed if they are confident. Think about it – who are the “mean girls” of the world? Are they the ones who complained about their looks all the time, who are obviously uncomfortable in their own skin, or simply the ones who don’t talk about looks very much? Or are they the girls who are confident, who are hot and know they’re hot and care about their looks? If you guessed the latter, then you’re a winner who wins nothing (sorry)! Too often, girls who actually have confidence are shamed – they’re egomaniacs, narcissists who have no depth to their character and only think about the latest hair product to make their locks flowing and shiny or whatever. The “good” girls of the world are the ones who are beautiful on the inside and don’t realize just how pretty they might be on the outside.
We need to stop shaming girls (and boys) for feeling confident!
We need to celebrate confidence, and teach everyone how to be humble and not too over-the-top, not to feel like confidence at all is a horrible thing that makes you selfish. We need books were characters are actually confident! We have so many books where the protagonists think they’re ugly, or at least not super-attractive, and they only figure out the truth because of a love interest or something, but we need books where girls are already comfortable in their own bodies, whether they’re thin girls who have the endure the inevitable “do you have an eating disorder? do you ever eat?” questions or are larger girls struggling to be healthy while making sure not to worry about their size. I want those girls and boys in my books – because guess what, people think about that stuff all the time. I know I do – so why should I read about protagonists who apparently don’t care because it would be shallow or something silly like that.
I want everyone to be confident and happy in their own skin – but that can’t happen until we stop trying healthy self confidence as a synonym for “being horribly full of yourself.”