We all have a story. Whether standing in front of a mirror fixated on the width of our hips, or sitting in an office feeling like we don’t deserve to be there, there are many moments of doubt every woman is familiar with. And research commissioned by L’Oréal Paris1 confirms it: 94 per cent of Australian women experience low self-esteem, and more than two thirds confess self-doubt is the biggest block to their success.
This epidemic touches us all, but it doesn’t need to define us. So, how to change the narrative? As part of our #KnowYourWorth campaign, a marie claire and L’Oréal Paris initiative, we asked women how they overcame self-doubt, embraced their power and found their worth.
FIONA , 32, PSYCHOLOGY STUDENT
“Working as a fashion buyer for more than 10 years, they’d always say, ‘We’re not saving lives.’ I got to the point where I finally thought: ‘So, why am I doing this?’ That turning point made me see myself in the wider context: what am I offering to the world and to myself? I wanted to go into psychology because, as a Black woman, I wanted to help people who felt similar. It’s scary to completely change careers at this point in my life, but I want to be part of the solution.”
44% of women would apply for a job where they don’t meet all the criteria compared to 59 per cent of men
ROSIE, 37, STYLIST
“I was badly bullied at school, and I didn’t realise how much it shaped me. I always had self-doubt. Things came to a head after I had my second child and was re-evaluating my career. I realised I wasn’t alone – so many women forget about themselves in motherhood and start feeling worthless. I started a personal styling business, My Virtual Stylist, and I realised that women lack security in their style because they’re not confident as a person. Now, I love helping people find their worth and dress in a way that helps them feel amazing. The grass grows where you water it – if you’re not showering yourself with love and kindness, you can’t bloom.”
AMANDA, 33, CREATIVE MANAGEMENT AGENT, & DAUGHTER AGGY, 16 MONTHS
“The early days of motherhood were a real struggle for me. My identity had been so wrapped up in my career and I just lost sight of who I was. I talked to my husband about how I was feeling – not just about myself but also about our relationship – and we made a collective effort to help me find my rhythm and rediscover our dynamic. I eventually realised I was a new version of myself; the old me wasn’t coming back, and I was OK with that. The process made me realise how resilient I am, which builds worth – you think, ‘I did that!’”
44% of women are confident to ask for a payrise compared to 62 per cent of men
TANIA, 55, BUSINESS OWNER
“I was a stay-at-home mum of three for 16 years and felt like I was constantly giving, very depleted and often anxious. When I decided to join an exercise group, it completely transformed my life; I carved out time that was exclusively mine, found new friends who were separate from the family unit and discovered a love for exercise that has seen me compete in half-marathons and triathlons. It gives me a sense of self that is grounded in strength and clarity of mind; 15 years later, I still need that hour a day. It makes me feel like I can accomplish anything.”
KARISHA, 34, SALES EXECUTIVE
“I had a great career. Then, my father passed away and I had to quit my job because it was just too demanding. For nine months after, it was hard for me to find a role because going through interviews, I’d get all emotional. I’d question my worth constantly: ‘Is it because I’m not blonde? Is it because my résumé isn’t good enough?’ Then I realised: ‘Hold up, no-one can tell me I’m not capable of this, because I know for myself that I am capable.’ Now, whenever I have moments of doubt, my mantra is: ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that!’”
87% of women compare themselves to other women
GEORGIA, 21, STUDENT
“When I was school captain, it was the moment before I had to go on stage to address 1000 people that my inner saboteur would appear: ‘Why would these people listen to me?’ But then as soon as I got out there and started speaking, it’d be like, ‘I can do this.’ Whenever I felt that something was out of my league, my mum would always say, ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway.’ That’s my motto. Now, I understand leadership as a muscle that you’ve got to exercise. Every position I’ve taken up has shown me that I’m more capable than I think I am, which has been awesome.”
Brought to you by L’Oréal Paris.
1 Source: Bastion Insights survey with n=701 Australian women aged 18 and over, November 2020.