We all know a brilliant woman who struggles with low self-esteem, an accomplished boss who battles with imposter syndrome, or a whip-smart woman stuck in a never-ending Instagram scroll comparing herself to airbrushed models.
We know her because we are her.
New research* conducted by L’Oreal Paris has found that 94 per cent of Australian women experience low self-esteem, 68 per cent say self-doubt is their biggest block to success, and nearly three-quarters have moments of self-doubt every week.
Also alarming is the fact that 87 per cent of women compare themselves to others, 73 per cent say they experience moments of self-doubt every week and nearly 70 per cent have experienced public harassment or felt unsafe in public. The crisis of confidence is also hindering working women at disproportionate rates to men: only 44 per cent of women are confident to ask for a pay rise compared to 62 per cent of men, and only 44 per cent of women go for jobs where they don’t meet the criteria compared to 62 per cent of men.
To help reverse these shocking stats, marie claire has partnered with beauty giant L’Oreal Paris to launch our joint Know Your Worth campaign. The initiative, featured in the April issue of marie claire (out now), showcases a lineup of high-profile, game-changing women who have all come together to say no to the self-doubt epidemic that impacts us all.
Says cover star Jessica Mauboy, who was also named a L’Oreal Paris “Woman of Worth” on International Woman’s Day: “It’s scary to look at the numbers and know that low self-esteem is such a huge issue. That’s why it’s important for us to tell our stories and be vulnerable with our struggles. Only then will we realise we’re not alone, and work together to help value, foster and know our worth. We need to back ourselves, always.”
L’Oreal Paris decided to conduct the survey to help celebrates the 50th anniversary of its iconic “Because I’m worth it” tagline. “It’s incredible to me that half a century later, the ‘I’m worth it’ message is still relevant and needed today,” says Mauboy.
To instigate change, we’ve bought together a group of trailblazing Australian women to fight self-doubt by sharing their own journeys to self-worth: athlete Ellyse Perry, chef and TV presenter Poh Ling Yeow and activist Rosie Batty (who were also just named L’Oreal Paris “Women of Worth”), as well as writer/TV presenter Phoebe Burgess and model/writer Jessica Vander Leahy.
For Mauboy, despite being one of the biggest stars in the country, the singer’s path to fame hasn’t been exempt from vulnerability – most notably when Kyle Sandilands made a disparaging comment about her weight on Australian Idol in 2006. “It’s honestly scary that a grown man spoke to a 16-year-old girl like that,” says Mauboy. “He made me feel self-conscious in front of millions of people.” The singer also details her recent decision to take control of her life, resulting in her parting ways with her record label of 14 years and long-term manager: “I knew I needed to do things my way and take the reins,” she says. “Last year was probably my lowest and also my highest because I gained so much strength.”
While the cricket pitch is the one domain where athlete Ellyse Perry feels like she is capable of asserting herself, she concedes her confidence is fluid, and names guilt as her biggest stumbling block. “At times I feel I’m not being a good enough family member or friend because sport is an inherently selfish job, so I’m often focused on myself,” says the captain of the Sydney Sixes. “I try to repay them by doing my best.”
“Self-esteem is like a muscle: it requires maintenance to keep it in shape,” says celebrity chef Poh Ling Yeow, who reveals she suffered from crippling shyness when she moved to Australia from Malaysia as a teen and was nick-named “geisha” for the thick make-up she wore. “In hindsight, my self-doubt was a double-edged sword – it made me feel invisible, but on the other hand, it made me fight harder,” she reveals.
2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, has struggled through adversity for years since the tragic murder of her son Luke at the hand of his father. “I’ve pushed through the fear until the moments of joy became more frequent than the moments of deep pain and sadness,” explains Batty. “For women struggling with their self-esteem, recognise it, give it a place, but don’t let it define you.”
While mum-of-two Phoebe Burgess has experienced huge challenges in the wake of her split from NRL star Sam Burgess, some old advice from her father held her in good stead: “People can only take your self-esteem if you let them”. Still, she concedes her confidence suffered a significant blow during her marriage, but there have been positives: “The think I love about myself is my resilience … I have a lot more strength than I ever gave myself credit for.”
Finally, model and writer Jessica Vander Leahy reveals her international success has helped tame her inner critic/ ‘In the early days of my modelling career, I experienced a lot of rejection as a curvy woman of colour,” says the model. “Those knock-backs made me question the space I take up in the world, but ultimately they were character-building.”
Read more stories from high-profile Australian women on their journey to self-worth in the April issue of marie claire, on sale now. Also, visit marieclaire.com.au and our social feeds (@marieclaireau) for more stories and inspiring self-worth videos. Also look out for our #KnowYourWorth visual podcast series on IGTV, where over the next month editor Nicky Briger talks to experts about boosting self-esteem.
Finally, email us your own “How I knew my worth” story to [email protected], or share it on social media using the hashtag #KnowYourWorth (and tag marie claire). The best five will be published in an upcoming issue and receive a L’Oreal Paris gift pack.
*Source: L’Oreal Paris Bastion Insights Survey with N = 701 Australian women aged 18 and over, November 2020.