Is Self-Confidence at an All-Time Low?

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Research has shown that seeing idealized images of thin, flawless-looking supermodels and celebrities can make women feel bad about themselves. But a new survey from German beauty company Braun suggests that women feel judged every day, regardless of the situation.

Some of the instances in which women don't feel they "measure up"? Dropping their kids off at school, giving a presentation at work, and shopping. Yikes!

Everyone has a down day once in a while, but in a world where women are arguably enjoying more success than ever, why do so many feel so bad about themselves? To start, we live in a culture that perpetuates judgment based on looks and weight, says Jennifer Lombardi, executive director of the Sacremento-based Eating Recovery Center of California. It starts early, with children as young as five learning that being "thin" or "skinny" is good and being "fat" is bad, she says. 

Then add that we live in the golden age of the 24-hour news cycle that more often highlights the negative—a celebrity struggling with anorexia or one being criticized for putting on a few pounds—and then tells the story with snarky quotes from unnamed sources and details about extreme diets and workout routines. Rather than taking the opportunity to educate readers and viewers so they can identify and help loved ones with distorted body image, the media just glorifies eating disorders, Lombardi says.

RELATED: Do You Need a Digital Detox?

Even more, advertisers often try to make us feel like if we don't buy their product or are unable to wear their clothes, we're somehow flawed or less than, she adds. "It's really no surprise that we walk around judging ourselves and other women since we are surrounded by these messages."

However, you can fight back! We polled Shape readers to get their best tricks and tips, and received some great suggestions: You told us that in order to make yourself feel better, it's the small things that help—putting on a little extra makeup, wearing sexy underwear, going for a jog, having sex (as though you even need a reason!), or taking a mini-digital detox from the computer (but don't stay away too long—we'll miss you!). 

Another way to boost your self-confidence: Figure out what's really important to you. Lombardi suggests asking yourself, "What would I do if I had 30 minutes left to live on earth?" The answer, and how it differs from what you're doing right this very minute, may surprise you.

What's your go-to confidence booster? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @Shape_Magazine!

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