Self esteem: Do we have confidence in Christ?

When asking girls and women if they are happy with the way they look, you rarely find someone who would not change at least a part of their body or face.

Influenced by the models on magazine covers and in commercials, many girls and women feel the pressure to be beautiful according to how beauty is portrayed in the media.

Scripture teaches us that every person is created in the image of God. However, a lot of Christian women and girls compare themselves with others and struggle to accept the way they look.

Although a Christian upbringing and affirming parents can help build the foundation to a healthy self-esteem, the teenage years are when most girls become more aware and self-critical. The physical change and the search for one’s identity leave many girls insecure. And even once out of their teens, many women fail to recover their self-esteem.

Social care students Evelyn and Jenny, both 21, say they always compare themselves to other women. “It happens automatically,” they say.

Many girls and young women do not know their identity in Christ, says Mandi T, 37. The lawyer and youth worker empathises with those women who suffer from a low self-esteem as she has been in their shoes.

“I only saw myself through the eyes of others,” she says.

It was only when she received revelation about how God sees her that she felt beautiful and accepted by Him. In her position as youth leader she works closely with girls and young women to help them understand their value in Christ.

One of the key problems is that many women believe that what they see in magazines or on TV is what will make them more attractive to the opposite sex.

However, for most men it has the opposite effect. Although men are more visual, a pleasant appearance does not make up for a lack of confidence and many Christian men find it not only “sad”, but even “annoying” when women are too concerned with the way they look.

Women who lack self-esteem are less attractive to guys. Just as women like confident men, guys like confident females, says sound engineer Marcel, 30.

Law graduate Joe, 26, agrees with Marcel. He finds low-esteem particularly unattractive in Christian women because "we know, or at least we should know, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by the creator of the universe".

But he must admit that “we all occasionally forget this".

"Everyone compares themselves at some point or another. And whoever says they don't is a liar," he says.

"We are frail human beings and when we see something we don't like we want to change it. I'm sure even Brad Pitt feels unattractive sometimes."

He understands that in the age we live in, women are more susceptible to the pressure to meet a certain ideal favoured by the media.

“Still, there must be a balance," says law student Rishab, 21. He believes that women should not be overly worried about their appearance, especially because when it comes to choosing a marriage partner there are other things that count more.

He says, “It is the woman’s integrity, her potential to be a mother but foremost her confidence in knowing who she is in Christ which makes her stand out.”