Increasing Self-Esteem/body image

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Hi Brenda, I'm a 34 year old woman from the US. I'm wondering how I can help myself feel better about who I am, and about my gender identity.

Before I ask: I'm hoping your answer won't rely on something like "read my blog and buy my e-book". Fair warning, I'm not really interested in that kind of thing. I just need someone I can talk to person-to-person.

So, I've never been a petite woman. I'm 5'8 and weigh about 160. I have wide hips and a small chest. But I have thick arms, a broad chin, wide shoulders, and a deep voice. In other words, I don't feel very feminine.

Is it possible that I have some kind of overabundance of testosterone, or something that's making me masculine in appearance and attitude?

I have a bit of a hair problem, growing it on my arms, my lower back, and my sideburns area. I have to shave my legs and under my arms every day, or it quickly gets noticeable as thick black hair sprouts. I'm European, not traditionally a "hairy" type of people like Mediterraneans, Hispanics, or Middle Easterners. And like I said, I have wide shoulders and a deep voice, and I'm really strong compared to most women I know. I can pop the top off a non-twist bottle cap, no problem...in fact I've won more than a few bar bets that way.

Also, I seem to have a masculine personality. I'm very competitive, I hate to lose, I'm quick to anger, and I'm not afraid of fighting (I don't like it, but I'm not afraid to if necessary). I always want to be first, and I'm nuts about being in charge of things. I hate being wrong, and I sometimes get aggressive in disagreements--even when I know I'm in the wrong. I like sports and competition (I was captain of the field hockey team in college). I insist on being the "alpha female" among my friends, and I'm working hard toward another promotion at work. I'm not too interested in having kids--in fact, the idea pretty much bores me. For all of these reasons, I have a hard time relating to women, and it's getting me down. Sometimes I feel like I'm not a very "good woman".

Lately I've been noticing passive-aggressive things from my girlfriends. Things like them calling me Queen Bee, and asking if I'll be starring in the next "300" movie as leader of the Spartan warriors. Not long ago, someone taped a picture of Leonidas covered with blood on the wall of my office, and wrote my name under it. People calling me "Amazon" has been occurring for a long time. I seem to have trouble associating with female friends recently, as they often strike me as weak, passive, dishonest, fearful, dependent, meek, and wavering...it's like I have a growing disrespect for them, because they're everything I can't stand. I pride myself on being strong, courageous, independent, unwavering, decisive, and fearless in the face of adversity. But again, it's like I can't relate to women because they don't seem to respect these qualities. All they care about is doing what their husbands say, taking care of their kids, shopping, cleaning the house, reading romance books and watching romance movies, and all kinds of trivial things like that.

My question is: is there something wrong with me? Sometimes I feel like I should have been born male, because I can't really identify with women anymore. It's like trying to be friends with a bunch of scared little kids, or people from another planet. Is there something wrong with my hormones? Is there an imbalance maybe? Is it possible to have too much testosterone, making me lean toward the masculine side?

I'm getting concerned about this because my dating life is suffering. I have no problem meeting guys, and they seem to like me--until they get to know me. Awhile ago, a guy I was dating actually asked me--not being a jerk, but sincerely asking--if I was born a male and became transgender at some point. This makes me worry about the future.

Look, I'm sure you're going to say something about taking pride in being a strong, modern, independent woman...and the changing gender roles of women in the 21st century....I appreciate the sentiment, and I'm proud of who I am. But at the same time, I wonder whether it's possible that I'm not "feminine" enough because of a hormonal problem. I've tried googling this, but I can't find any definitive answers.

So, beneath the hair, the deep voice, wide shoulders, competitive nature, strong arms, and distaste for family life....is there even a real woman? Should I seek medical attention because I have some kind of medical problem? I hope you can help me out, because it's getting me down. As much as I hate admitting that, and as much as I dislike asking for help, I'm getting desperate.

Thanks,
Roberta

Answer
Hi Roberta,

Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. But, you must make a deliberate effort to find beauty in everything and in everyone.  I once heard someone say that, “There are many different flowers in the world, but they are all beautiful.”  I love that message because flowers are known to be beautiful and yet there are so many kinds.  Furthermore, one person may think that a rose is beautiful; another may disagree and say that a sunflower is beautiful.  Different flowers but each is beautiful in the eyes of the beholder.  Roberta, being different; making the decision to live “outside of the box”; or going against societal gender “norms” or expectations does not mean that you are not beautiful or less lady-like.  Fall in love with who you are, no matter how different, on the inside and out, because there is only one of you.  And then show the world how amazing you are!

Beauty is a state of mind.  Begin by continuously working to perfect your inner beauty (behaving/responding in love, have joy, character/integrity, pursue peace, be kind, be faithful, be gentle and good to others, exercise self-control, be tolerant, especially to people who are different from you (shy, soft soften, or otherwise). Before you focus on the outer looks. Because the inner beauty will radiate outwardly.  

Also, protect your reputation.  At age 34, strive to work on keeping bridges in tack, in other words, don’t burn ANY bridges.  Everyone needs someone and we never know when, where or from whom.  You want to always leave a positive impression with everyone. Again, protect your reputation because impressions follow you for years to come.  

The one that you hurt could be in a position to help your career, finances, living situation etc...  Only you can decide and work to make the world beautiful in and around you.

The name calling is common for high school students but not for adults.  Assess the situation including your behavior and discover why they are reacting that way towards you.  Understand that you won’t be able to please everyone all of the time.  

Work on doing something every day to build your confidence in some way (take a class, mentor kids, teach younger people how to play hockey, get a makeover, accomplish higher goals).  Most often, our behavior and attitude displays how we feel about ourselves.  Small steps will lead to big lifestyle changes.

Now, I truly understand the alpha-female personality because I am definitely an alpha-female and I always have been.  As alpha-females, we can be outspoken, extroverts, sometimes bossy, demanding, assertive, etc..  But, you must cultivate that leader (alpha-female) within  so that people will find you pleasurable to be around.  
  
It concerns me that you have listed everything that you see is “wrong” (although someone would love everything on your “wrong” list) but now list everything that is “right” about you and then focus on what’s “right.” I can assure you that the list of what is “right” will be longer if you try hard.  

Finally, there are men who love and adore alpa-females because we have boundaries, we have expectations and we let others know how to please us, we have very little tolerance for some things, and we know what we want.  But, we must respect those who are different and don’t consider them to be weak because they are not let alpha-females.

Live your life, become a life-long learner who is opening to learning from anyone, and working on building your self-esteem every day. Remember that people gravitate towards people who bring them peace, respect, and genuine love.  Best wishes.

Ps, Hockey (Caps & Rangers) is my favorite sport. And, as far as the hormonal concern, I doubt it and it’s not a great idea to spend time trying to convince yourself that you are a man or masculine because you like what you like.  But you can always visit your physician since that’s her/his specialty.  

Brenda  

Increasing Self-Esteem

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Brenda Douglas

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It would be my pleasure to answer questions that will help you to love and celebrate your uniqueness as I have a passion for serving as a confidence coach and answering questions that will help you to live a victorious lifestyle without compromising high standards. Growing in confidence involves developing cognitively, physically, emotionally, socially, and professionally. Building your self-esteem is a lifelong commitment that takes diligent effort.

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I am the Founder of Royalty which is an organization that empowers and refines women who are everyday leaders; through interactive workshops, seminars, and courses; a Confidence Coach, http://www.allexperts.com/ep/2042-101680/Increasing-Self-Esteem/Brenda-Douglas.htmor and the author of the Everyday Leaders blog at http://4everydayleaders.wordpress.com/ and Recognize Royalty at http://www.blogher.com/member/recognizeroyalty, http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/1839760/brenda_douglas.html

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