The Link between Gender and Self-Worth
Managing one’s self-worth is a fundamental human challenge, one that can manifest differently depending on individual gender experiences. Gender plays a major role in how a person’s sense of self-worth is developed and can be more influential than other factors such as race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
Gender socialization is defined as the acquisition of roles, values, and attitudes that are expected of us depending on our gender. All societies are characterized by some form of gender-based division of labor, which includes norms and values that are based on underlying assumptions about males and females. From an early age, children learn about what is expected of them culturally depending on their gender.
Effects on Self-Image and Self-Concept
Social messages regarding one’s gender-based roles, and how they look, often have significant impacts on an individual’s self-image and self-concept. When the societal messages received by an individual do not match their lived experience, they may begin to feel like they are not living up to the expectations placed on them by their gender, or like they are being denied the privileges of their gender. This can often lead to low self-esteem and self-worth.
Cultural Messages and Roots of Low Self-Worth
Negative messages about gender roles can have serious consequences for self-worth. In many cultures, women are socialized to believe that their value lies in their physical appearance and that their worthiness is dependent on the approval of others. Similarly, men are often taught to be strong and independent, but this is often done at the expense of developing healthy relationships and emotions.
Building Self-Esteem and Self-Worth
Fortunately, building self-esteem and self-worth is possible regardless of one’s individual gender. Here are a few tips to help improve self-worth:
- Accept yourself: Focus on the positive aspects of your personality.
- Set realistic goals: Focus on reaching achievable goals, rather than perfection.
- Break negative thought patterns: Change the way you think about yourself and replace them with positive ones.
- Be kind to yourself: Practice self-compassion and understanding.
- Surround yourself with positive people: Spend time with people who appreciate and support you.
Gender roles and expectations can have a significant impact on an individual’s self-image and self-worth. It is important to be mindful of the cultural messages we receive and to make an effort to cultivate healthy self-esteem and self-worth regardless of gender.