Sadly, this is not an unusual way to think about oneself, and is especially common in women, who have been taught by society that their primary value is to be seen and treated as sexual objects.
“It’s different for men.”
“They don’t have to worry that much about how they look.”
This, is unfortunately also a prevalent societal value, which enables men to feel a sense of self-worth nto their old age, and for many other reasons aside from their physical appearance.
This is not to say ageism does not exist for men, or that men are free of societal pressures to fit a certain ideal of physical attractiveness. This also does not mean there aren’t many women who feel empowered by virtue of their intelligence, or various talents, unrelated to their physical appearance, but the cards are stacked in favor of men.
It’s no coincidence that the fashion, cosmetics, and even plastic surgery industries, thrive on this objectification of women.
So how can women feel better about themselves, and value themselves more for who they are, as opposed to what they look like?
Psychotherapy can help you explore some of the origins of this devaluation, which is often rooted in the family system. The complex interplay between societal influences and childhood caregivers can make untangling the roots of such beliefs complicated.
Perhaps you played the role of scapegoat in your family, and your value was to take the blame for the failures in your parent’s relationship.
Maybe it’s a matter of being disregarded, and feeling unheard and unseen, leaving you believing you are unworthy of positive attention.
It could be that a parent attempted to satisfy their own needs to feel empowered by using their parental role to control their child.
Maybe they were attempting to alleviate their own guilt for failing in their role as caregiver, by shaming and deprecating their child, and putting all the blame on them.
There are many ways in which we can internalize a sense of low self-worth. While I’ve highlighted societies objectification of women, there are plenty of opportunities for men to feel deprecated and inadequate.
Psychotherapy can help you discover that inner self that was neglected and beaten down. We all have value as people, but many of us have never had the opportunity to have it reflected. It can take time to discover that neglected child inside of us, and then more time to discover who we are, and reasons to love and respect ourselves.
While it may seem quicker to get plastic surgery, buy some expensive clothing, or find an attractive partner to give us a sense of validation, these are all external sources, and at the end of the day, we our left with that inner child, who does not believe in themselves.
If you take the time to work on the inner you, the pay off is far greater, and it will be something that you always can rely on.
We are all going to age, look less physically attractive, but with a strong inner sense of self, we will always have something we can rely on. Ourselves.