As any psychiatrist will tell you, self-confidence is a necessity. It doesn't merely have an impact on one's day-to-day life: It often dictates behavior and shapes one's personality.
Those with poor self-images are more likely to withdraw from society, and as a result, they are more closed off to new experiences. They tend to retreat into the relative safety of their shells, content to interact via video screen. They seem to ignore the fact that this behavior only exacerbates problems like depression, stress and anxiety. It can even lead to detrimental -- if not permanent -- mental health problems.
Perhaps this is part of the reason why the up-and-coming generation -- better known as Millennials -- appears to be frighteningly insecure, and more fragile than any generation before. They seem more anxious to know what others think.
If the feedback is negative, they either lash out or retreat further into the restrictive (yet familiar) confines of their personal spaces. The result is a gaggle of individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 dangerously obsessed with image.
Ironically, this is happening in an era where “fat-shaming” is frowned upon. Various groups and programs are desperately attempting to combat the rising tide of superficiality. One could argue that this tide began to grow with the indulgent “me” decade of the '80s. But one could also claim that the importance of one's looks has actually been on the downswing since the moment Nirvana took the stage in the early '90s.
The fact remains, however, that confidence is critical. You only achieve this confidence by becoming a secure, mature individual. While we're seeing signs of progress, we're also seeing signs of regression.
The good news is, Millennials do seem to be maturing in the realm of finances, especially if this Forbes article is any indication. Rather than spending money until they're blue in the face, young people have started to understand the concept of saving.
It'd be inaccurate to say they're entirely immature. On the flip side, when they're given the opportunity to speak personally and bluntly, a flood of emotion and insecurity hits the Internet like a tsunami.
Take GirlsAskGuys, which is an open forum where youngsters ask questions every day. It encourages uncensored discussions on the most popular — and occasionally the most controversial — topics. The majority of the participants fall into the Millennial demographic, and all one has to do is glance through the “How Do I Look?” channel to get an idea of what's running through the minds of image-conscious youngsters everywhere.
Social media doesn't have a patch on this open opinion marketplace. When we let people off the chain -- so to speak, while still assuring their anonymity -- a ruckus is bound to ensue. The aptly named TV show — also called "How Do I Look?" — is entering its 12th season. There's a reason for its success, although it's not merely limited to the Millennial demographic.
As previously stated, it's only human to want to be looked upon with an approving (and even covetous) eye. Mental health professionals may be concerned that the digital age is affecting our social skills, which is an ongoing issue, but a topic for another article. But humanity's deepest desire to be accepted and loved will always remain.
One just wonders if Millennials have become so obsessed and so fearful, they're actually more likely to indulge in plastic surgery. Girls as young as 12 and 13 are anxious to know if they're too fat, or if they have cute faces or not. Guys not much older are quick to ask about muscle tone and “size.” The questions this younger generation has seem to revolve around self-image and matters of physical importance.
It's a little disturbing, but at the same time, it's also interesting to see the bevy of support younger people can find when they turn to their peers. Many are quick to reassure a fellow sufferer that yes, you look OK, and yes, you'll be just fine. It gives one a warm feeling, certainly. But the core issue is many Millennials appear to obsess about their looks and overall image.
Is this not supposed to be the “be happy with yourself, no matter what” generation? Isn't this the rallying cry that shouts “to hell with what society thinks I should be?” If that's true, the insecurity noted in this piece is -- for lack of a better word -- hypocritical.
Really, that's what makes this whole thing so damn fascinating. You can check out several other great articles about self-esteem, self-image and self-improvement, including 5 Small Ways To Build Up Your Self-Esteem and 4 Ways To Be More In Love With Who You Are.