Self Esteem Secrets from Women of All Ages

Confidence is a trait you can cultivate at any age. Here, women from every decade of life share what makes them feel empowered. 

Cece P., 9

Amaze yourself

“I feel my prettiest when I’m doing gymnastics. I really like my arms and legs for being strong and helping me push myself up into handstands, perform on the balance beam and finish my dance routines. I also like my heart because it’s full of love.”

Sadie H., 16

Practice positive thinking

“It seems so natural to complain about how you look to your friends. I used to do it constantly and obsess about what I hated, like how big my nose is. But I realized it’s crazy to destroy myself all the time.”

Francine O., 29

Defy expectations

“People have their own ideas about what a dancer should look like, and many times when I perform, the audience is stunned that I can move the way I do. I’m truly fortunate to be part of a dance company that accepts me for me. My hips let me do things on stage that skinnier girls can’t!”

Stacy K., 36

Refuse to be invisible

“Ten years ago I was working as a TV reporter when I got into a serious car accident. As a result, I now use a wheelchair. I first blamed my legs for not doing everything they could before. But then I realized that my body was what got me through all of the surgeries and allowed me to survive.

“I learned that my injury will never limit what I can achieve. So much of feeling beautiful is self-acceptance—the wider our definition of beauty, the stronger we become.”

Robin W., 42

Don’t compare yourself to others

“My body isn’t the image of perfection. I’m 5’3”, and after having three children, the skin around my middle isn’t as tight as it once was. But I love my body because it’s strong, flexible and balanced.

“I’ve been a yoga teacher for years, and my practice has helped me direct my thoughts to loving, appreciating and nurturing my body, as opposed to obsessing over my looks. At the end of class, I have my students thank their bodies for what they just did.”

Lorrie S., 52

See your strengths, not your weaknesses

“I really wanted children, but I couldn’t conceive. For a while I hated my body for not doing the one thing it was designed to do, and I punished it at the gym. I figured that if I couldn’t have a baby, at least I could be skinny! Then a friend suggested I go hiking with her.

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“Before I knew it, I stopped being so critical—I was too focused on the hills, colors and sky to worry about my weight. I finally saw all that my body was capable of—which helped me love it again.”

Roberta S., 64

Never stop moving

“Doing something physical every morning makes me feel good about my body. And that confidence stays with me for the rest of the day. I just think about the fact that I was the oldest woman in Spinning class and could keep up with the instructor—and I know that I can do anything!”

Janet S., 70

Focus on what your body can do

“There’s so much emphasis today on looking great at every age and having exactly the right body size. I have no desire to be in perfect shape. I want a body that feels good and works without pain.

“I’ve been blessed so far. Part of it is genetics and part of it is because I take time to exercise, stretch and move every morning.”

Marian S., 82

Own the room

“Confidence has nothing to do with what you look like. If you obsess over that, you’ll end up being disappointed in yourself all the time. Instead, high self-esteem comes from how you feel in any moment.

“So walk into a room acting like you’re in charge, and spend your energy on making the people around you happy. Giving confidence to others will come back to you and you’ll end up feeling better about yourself.”

Esther T., 99

Treasure your health every day

“Your body is your instrument, and you have to take beautiful care of it. I do one hour of yoga and walk for 30 minutes every day. You really enjoy life a lot more if you’re healthy. And I never leave home without putting on lipstick—it makes me feel pretty!”

From Shape, © Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission.