Self esteem comes from within an individual but is prone to external influence. This is the reason why some people find it easy to build self esteem than other people. Self-esteem building is an inside job as well as an outside job.
In case of teenage girls there are some specific causes that dampen the self esteem. Here are some of them:
Poor body image
When a girl is told that she is not good enough because she is overweight or dark skinned or does not meet the conventional standards of beauty defined by public and media, she will not feel good about herself and not pay attention to anything that is good about her. It is even worse when a girls is asked to ‘compensate’ for her ‘average looks’ by achieving more in academics and profession, while ideally achievement should be out of interest and wholeheartedness and not to gain acceptance. This is because they are made to believe that all their good traits and achievements are meaningless or of less importance if they don’t look good.
Comparisons and quoting examples
Often parents and teachers compare them with peers and put down girls who think they are not good enough. Younger siblings are always given examples of older siblings, relatives or acquaintances and asked to live up to these expectations. Usually all this happens without acknowledging or mention what is good about the girl or what she has already achieved.
Influence from family life
Discord in the family in form of fights at home or divorce of parents can create low self esteem in girls and affect their perception about relationships.
A father plays an important role in self esteem of a girl by influencing how she sees herself and the level of respect she expects from male members in the society. He does this by how he treats women in general and how much he respects them. Similarly, a mother influences the feelings of self worth and self respect in a girl by how she feels about her appearance and how she perceives herself in general. If the father disrespects women and the mother is self-critical about herself, then they are leading their daughter down the road of poor self esteem.
Negative projections from media and general public
General public and media love to project women as epitome of modesty and selflessness. Although people like to deny, there is a vicious and paradoxical “virginal but sexy and attractive” image that is expected of women even today. Girls find it difficult to live up to these unrealistic expectations. Often they know that these are wrong and unreal standards, but they are scared of voicing out that something is amiss. Very often girls suffer in silence and lead unhappy and frustrated lives dues to this.
Good parenting and schooling, and responsible media projections can help a lot in preserving and raising the self esteem of teenage girls who are growing up to be young women. Acknowledging talents, skills, achievements and all good traits in a teenage girl is instrumental in raising her self esteem.