How creative practice can influence self-love, and how self-love can, in turn, benefit the creative process.
The Epidemic of Low Self-Esteem in Women
Low self-esteem seems to be an epidemic, which, like any other virus, feeds off its host, resulting in consequences beyond imaginable. A lack of self-love permeates into every inch of a person’s life. It has been known to correlate with poor work performance, strained relationships with friends and family, and the destruction of passions and dreams.
A poignant study on self-esteem, funded by The Dove Self-Esteem Project, found that 85% of women and 79% of girls have opted out of an activity they normally love because they were insecure about the way they looked. Similarly, 7 out of 10 girls admitted to letting their opinions go unheard due to low self-esteem.
If these numbers weren’t scary enough, the recent boom in social media presence has only worsened these statistics. An evaluation done by the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Abnormal Psychology showed a 52% increase in depressive thoughts among individuals aged 12-17 and a 63% increase among 18-25-year-olds. These stark increases correlate with the burgeoning presence of social media, which has gone from an optional hobby to an obligatory activity. Comparison and false representation are at an all-time high, causing low self-esteem to rise by margins unlike any other decade.
With these facts, there is no denying that self-love is needed amongst young girls and women. And luckily, I am here to offer a course of action: creativity.
How Creativity Can Help Self-Love
Creativity is all about uniqueness. It is about recognizing the beauty in originality–the beauty in flaws. Self-love should be treated the same way. If each person saw themselves as a work of art, they would be able to recognize that their “flaws” are anything but. Think of every mark on your being as a flick of a paintbrush for emphasis or a dash of color to attract the eye. Soon, you will see the beauty in your specialness. The daunting effects of comparison would also be mitigated. As it would be silly to compare a Picasso to a Van Gough, it would be silly to compare yourself to another. Art is about perception. So choose to see yourself as beautiful.
This theory on the relationship between creativity and self-love has been published in The Journal of Creative Behavior. Using a sample of adolescents, they found that self-esteem could account for 30.7% of the variance in musical creativity, 21.3% of story writing creativity, and 10.1% of creativity in drawing, suggesting a relationship of some sorts.
So how can we apply this to our everyday lives?
Write in a journal. Paint how you feel. Learn to view every inch of yourself and the world as a unique, individual work of art. For more ideas on self-care, journaling, and artistic avenues towards wellness, check out the numerous blog posts at Live Your Dream Blog. I promise, it will be worth it.
How Self-Love Can Help Creativity
It should be noted that this is not a one-way relationship. Not only can creativity allow you to improve your self-esteem, but self-love can help you unleash your inner creativity. All the statistics on how self-hatred can hurt performance were not for nothing, they show the negative effects that low self-esteem can have on creativity.
For years, I found myself acting apprehensively when showing off my creations, feeling that they were unworthy of viewing. However, once I took that daunting step to share my ideas and present my creations, I found that my self-esteem skyrocketed and so did the quality of my work. Confidence fuels success, and I promise, if you take the step towards appreciating yourself and your inherent uniqueness, you too can unleash your full potential.
Do not be afraid to pick up that paint-brush or play that melody or write down that story that enters your dreams each night. We as women are beautiful, creative, and have the unlimited potential for greatness. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
Sydney Gilmore is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh Honors College majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Studio Arts and Chemistry. She is deeply passionate about issues surrounding women’s empowerment, the struggles of Asian-Americans, and women in medicine. She hopes to empower women and shed light on the current state of patriarchy and racism through her writing. In her spare time she enjoys travel, the arts, and nature.