Society has unrealistic expectations of beauty. Whether it permeates through magazine culture, fashion advertisements or dangerous thinspiration movements, the ideal body that many girls strive for is becoming harder and harder to achieve.
When all of these images and messages start to stack up, how can you keep your self-esteem intact? Yes, Candice Swanepoel is beautiful. Obviously Beyoncé is a queen. But so are you!
If you’re in need of a confidence boost, look no further. We spoke with collegiettes to uncover their tips and tricks so you can start feeling more confident and love the skin you’re in.
1. Straighten up
Maintaining correct posture not only makes you appear more confident, but it can also play a big role in how confident you feel.
In a research study conducted at Ohio State University, when participants were asked to sit up straighter, they were more confident about the statements they wrote about their qualifications compared to those who slouched.
Kayla Ermanni, a junior at the University of Michigan, finds that straightening up helps her with public speaking. “If I’m presenting in class, I try to stand up straight because it will look like I’m confident in what I’m saying,” she says. “Sometimes looking and feeling confident go hand in hand.”
So how can you practice better posture? First, you want to make sure that your head, shoulders and hips are level. Imagine drawing a straight line from your ear to your shoulder, your hip and finally to your ankle. Next, roll your shoulders down and back, and place your weight evenly on both feet. It might feel awkward at first, but with practice it will become second nature.
Although it seems simple, changing your posture can make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself. Next time you sit down to tackle a homework assignment or take notes in class, skip slouching and sit up straight instead.
2. Fake it
Have you ever heard the expression “fake it till you make it”? If not, make it your new mantra. By imitating confidence, you will eventually learn to accept your successes and grow real confidence.
Sona Kollarova, a senior at the University of Ottawa, uses this approach to boost her esteem. “If you act like you are confident and outgoing, people will believe it, and eventually you will start to believe it yourself,” she says. “I would also suggest that you take any opportunity you can to meet new people and put yourself out there.”
Connie Chan, a senior at Carnegie Mellon University, says real confidence can and will grow from faking it initially. “One really good piece of advice I’ve heard is to walk like you are going somewhere important,” she says. “It may seem silly, but it actually helps you exude confidence, even if you don’t actually feel it. If you begin with something as simple as walking, it will soon flow over into the way you do other things. Fake confidence will soon become genuine confidence; it’s a way of making the mask become the face.”
On your way to class, pretend that you’re walking to an important job interview. This simple gesture (along with standing tall and proud) will bring you one step closer to finding your most confident self.
3. Think positively
When you’re feeling self-conscious, there’s nothing worse than a negative mind. If you’re constantly critical of your every move, your self-esteem will surely suffer.
Instead of focusing on the negatives (what you don’t like about yourself, what you wish you could change), reflect on what’s good in your life. What qualities do you have that are one of a kind?
Harper Yi, a junior at The College of William and Mary, says journaling is a great way to keep track of the positive things that happen during your day. Not only is the process of writing therapeutic in and of itself, you can look back on your journal later when you’re feeling down and remember all the good things that happened to you.
“Journaling is a really great exercise,” she says. “You don’t even have to write a lot, honestly. Sometimes it’s really great to refocus yourself by taking time every day to write one sentence of good news or gratitude.”
Along with journaling, you can start by leaving daily reminders around your dorm or apartment for quick confidence boosters. It’s as easy as writing uplifting messages on sticky notes and posting them around (especially on the bathroom mirror). Write whatever you think will speak to you the most, including inspirational quotes or reasons to appreciate who you are and what you’ve accomplished.
Need some quote inspiration? Try these!
“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.” –Amy Bloom
“People often say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.” –Salma Hayek
“Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it. Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it.” –Thaddeus Golas
Whenever you start to doubt yourself, your appearance or your abilities, look at your notes! You can even surprise your roommates (and give them a nice confidence boost in return) by leaving them a note on the fridge or the counter in the morning.
4. Dress to impress
To start feeling more confident, you need to dress the part. There’s nothing like finding the perfect outfit: one that’s comfortable, that’s flattering and that says, “I know I look great.” When you’re wearing a cute outfit you feel fantastic in, it changes the way you carry yourself, how others see you and in turn, how you see yourself.
And it’s not always what’s on the outside that counts. Splurging on a Victoria’s Secret bra-and-panty combo can work wonders for self-confidence. Laura Bouman, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin—Stout, says this little trick can make you feel powerfully sexy.
“Wearing sexy lingerie during the day (under your outfit obviously) can make a girl feel super sexy and confident, even just for a day,” she says. “No one even has to see it; it’s your little secret!”
Along with rocking the right outfit, your beauty regimen can positively influence your confidence level.
Sophie Dodd, a junior from Middlebury College, says bold lipstick works to polish off a confident look. “When I need a pick-me-up, I love to rock a bright red lip,” she says. “It screams confidence, which in turn makes [me] feel confident.”
Similarly, Ashley McDonald, a junior at Central Michigan University, finds that a bold lip combined with the right outfit can turn you into a force to be reckoned with.
“What I do to feel confident is wear a bold lipstick color, like hot pink or red,” she says. “When I pair that with a killer outfit, I feel ready to take on the world!”
5. Accept compliments and show thanks
Have you ever thought something like, “They don’t actually think I’m smart; they’re just being nice”? Think again! In order to gain confidence and greater self-esteem, it’s important to take compliments for what they’re worth. Instead of discrediting the person who gave it to you, assuming she’s lying or whatever else you tell yourself, believe her and show your gratitude!
Giving thanks to people who affected your life positively, even just for a simple compliment, will help you to recognize your strengths and redirect your negative energy.
“Say thank you, and not just, ‘Hey, thanks,’ but sitting down and writing an email or a card to someone who helped you out today or last week or last year,” Harper says. “It’s a way to remind yourself of how good you have it. Gratitude is so important in life! The key to being happy and confident is knowing how to smile about what you already have.”
We’re used to brushing off positive thoughts because it’s so much easier to focus on the negative. When you receive a compliment in the future, use it to fuel your self-confidence, not take away from it!
Between classes, extracurricular activities and homework, there never seems to be enough time for exercise. But there are endless benefits for bringing yourself to the gym, which include stress relief and confidence-building. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of finishing an intense workout. When you challenge yourself and succeed, you’ll start to believe in yourself in other aspects of life as well.
Becky McColl, a senior at the University of Delaware, believes that you can achieve higher confidence through regular exercise and focusing on your overall health.
“I really love running, and I always find that I feel better about myself when I’m running regularly,” she says. “I think exercising regularly and doing things that are beneficial for your health are really important factors in feeling good about yourself.”
Along with exercise itself, what you wear can play a factor in your confidence. Susannah Hine, a senior at UC Irvine, says wearing just a sports bra gives her the motivation to work out and feel great about herself afterwards.
“A great confidence booster is to go for a run or hike and only wear a sports bra on top,” she says. “I’m not quite why this is so empowering, but even on the days I feel super bloated, going out in public wearing only a cute bra top always boosts my self esteem!”
With practice comes confidence. You won’t wake up one morning feeling 100 percent sure of yourself; it takes time and energy to love the skin you’re in. We hope that with these tips, you can be on your way to a more confident self!