On Female Self-Hate

LADIES: Stop committing acts of verbal violence against yourself: It’s literally a sin against God, who created you and me and all of us.

Why do I bring this up?

I recently heard a woman insult herself pretty badly. I tried to tell her to stop talking about herself that way. Yet she did it again the next time we spoke.

Reflecting on this, I realized that I hear such comments from other women quite a lot. It’s not just once in a while. It’s not just one person. It’s literally everyone:

“I’m so stupid”
“I hate myself”
“What’s wrong with me”
“I can’t stop blaming myself,” “I’m a terrible person”
“I feel so fat and disgusting”

…and similar.

Now, you could say that one person is self-deprecating. You could say that maybe the comments come from a place of guilt. Or maybe trauma. Whatever.

But everyone?

To be clear — these comments come from successful women, smart women, kind women. They come from women I know well, and from others who are barely acquaintances.

It doesn’t matter what the topic is, either: looks, career, relationships, parenting, whatever. No matter what, the sentiment is the same: “I hate myself.” “I am totally unworthy of love.”

I don’t remember my grandmothers, may they rest in peace, feeling this way.

I believe it started in the late ‘70s with the rise of the feminist movement. Somehow we were supposed to “do it all”…without sacrificing anything at home…how exactly?

We had no one to blame. This was freedom, right?

So we blamed ourselves. Still do.

Plus, the rise of Hollywood and objectification of women pressured us to become sticklike little no-appetite Barbie dolls.

It’s a nonstop attack on our very selves, accelerating faster and faster. No wonder so many kids are anxious and depressed and acting out — even suicidal.

We are supposed to live up to some mythical ideal of perfection that exists, but which nobody can articulate exactly.

Very interesting. Makes no sense and yet here we are still chasing that subconscious hooey.

Society is not female-centric, for sure. There is no respect for mothers; just the opposite—there is an intense drive to erase the female altogether (think “parents” and “pregnant people”).

Women have the right and the need to be ourselves. We deserve to be loved no matter how old, fat, ugly, and loud we are.

In my heart and soul, I know exactly how I would fix this problem: Establish safe community spaces for women. For example, I had the benefit of going to an all-girl’s junior high and high school.

Women who experience support from other women are healthier people (and the same is true for men).

We need to have (just a few examples):

— Same-sex schools for those who want them. These are incubators of leadership. A female will never be told she cannot do XYZ at such a school; the boys will not intimidate or bully or worse, draw them into exploitive sexual relationships (and even drugs/human trafficking God forbid).

—Telework spaces for young mothers who can interact with their children and then watch a caregiver attending to them.

— Eldercare that brings women into contact with one another for reassurance.

It’s time to end the internalized self-hatred and support ourselves and each other.

“I love me.”

~ and ~

“I don’t know her; I’m not going to judge her.”

Let’s practice together.

Let’s say the kind words out loud.

By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own.