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On International Women's Day, we celebrate female empowerment and strength. But projecting your own sense of self worth and confidence can be a daily battle. Sometimes it's easier to turn to, say, Beyoncé or Oprah for sage advice on standing up for what you believe in. Below, words from Meghan Markle, Elizabeth Warren, Michelle Obama, and Lizzo on forging ahead with independence, no matter what day of the year.
"I made a decision to be myself because I knew I had no choice. Sometimes the label 'unapologetic' bothers me because it can be loaded, because it means we have to apologize for something in the first place. I'm not ignorant to the fact that we had to have a demeanor of lowering ourselves culturally just to exist. But I'm trying to shake up the narrative about how we're supposed to act."
Yara Shahidi, Always' #LikeAGirl campaign
"But confidence, for a lot of people, comes from being able to be comfortable in the space that you exist in, being able to be comfortable in the space that you take up. And often times it’s a highly political thing, whether people have made space for you or not, which is why internal confidence and self-assuredness, as well as a support network to tell you you are worthy of the space, is so important."
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Suffolk University Commencement speech
"I mean making it a priority to know yourself, to know what defines you, totally separate from what anybody else thinks. But here’s the thing: If you figure that out, nothing will be more valuable. Because knowing who you are is the compass that will help guide you to unexpected opportunity or when a setback blows your way. Knowing who you are is the centerboard that will help steady you when you’re afraid you may capsize."
Rihanna, E! News
"Pretend. I mean, it's either that or cry myself to sleep. Who wants to do that? You wake up with puffy eyes the next day, it's a waste of tears."
Taylor Swift, ELLE
"I learned to stop hating every ounce of fat on my body. I worked hard to retrain my brain that a little extra weight means curves, shinier hair, and more energy. I think a lot of us push the boundaries of dieting, but taking it too far can be really dangerous. There is no quick fix. I work on accepting my body every day. "
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, NowThis News
“I know when I was growing up, I didn’t see any women like me in positions of leadership. And so when you’re only seeing white dudes just like, running the world, you think you need to act like a white dude to run the world. The problem is that mold wasn’t made for you. And so even if you try the hardest at being that, you will not be as good as someone who is just that already. That’s why I’ve tried really hard to authentically be myself while I’m here in this moment and in this position, because I want to show other people that there are other ways of being powerful in the world.”
Megan Thee Stallion, Billboard
"Confidence literally starts from yourself. You have to go look in the mirror at yourself. If you don't like what you see, you're going to give off that energy. I feel like people can tell that you're not confident in yourself, so they're going to handle you like you're not confident. You just have to wake up and think, 'Okay maybe this is not going good for me today, but that doesn't mean it's not going to go good for you next month.'"
Mindy Kaling, BuzzFeed
"When people get the confidence knocked out of them, I feel like it was probably false confidence because you can't, I don't think, get it knocked out of you when you are truly confident. I think you have to be able to have everything taken away from you and be sitting in a ditch and know you could build it up from scratch. That's how I feel and that's how I know it's true confidence."
Nora Ephron, Wellesley College Commencement speech
"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim."
Beyoncé Knowles, Complex
"When I'm not feeling my best I ask myself, 'What are you gonna do about it?' I use the negativity to fuel the transformation into a better me."
Meghan Markle, ELLE UK
“Make a choice: continue living your life feeling muddled in this abyss of self-misunderstanding, or you find your identity independent of it.”
Selena Gomez, Bliss Magazine
"To me, beauty is confidence. I think I'm pretty confident in the decisions and the choices I make in my personal life and career, but the same time I also let my fans know that, just like them, I have insecurities. I have moments when I don't feel good about myself. I think people can forget that, at the end of the day, I'm just a normal girl dealing with lots of the same issues as them."
Martha Stewart, MSNBC
"I think having a confidence in your actions is extremely important because you can feel downtrodden for a long time, but once you get that confidence that what you’re doing is valuable, is useful, is practical, is helping others — and it can be any kind of job — when you have a good feeling about what you’re doing, I think life will be good.”
Emma Stone, People
"Confidence is the only key. I know a lot of people who aren't traditionally 'beautiful'— not symmetrical or perfect-bodied or perfect-skinned. But none of that matters because all that shines through is their confidence, humor, and comfort with themselves. I can't think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself."
Gabourey Sidibe, Gloria Awards and Gala via Vulture
"I live my life, because I dare. I dare to show up when everyone else might hide their faces and hide their bodies in shame."
Lena Dunham, Marie Claire UK
"I remember looking in the mirror as a kid and it would be like for an hour at a time, and I'd be like: 'I'm just so beautiful. Everybody is so lucky that they get to look at me.' And of course that changes as you get older, but I may have held on to that little-kid feeling that was me alone in my bathroom."
Jen Sincero, Forbes
"As far as self-confidence goes, so much of social media is about approval, getting likes, comparing our lives to others' meanwhile, confidence is an inside job: it's about how you feel about yourself regardless of what anyone else does or thinks. It's a knowing that you're human, you're flawed, and you're awesome in your own way."
Troian Bellisario, Seventeen
"I believe in waking up every day and taking a good step toward health and honoring your body. Remember that you are young, beautiful, individual, and unique — that is worth everything in this world."
Oprah Winfrey, Business Insider
"Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness."
Victoria Justice, Seventeen
"Recently, I started realizing that not everything about my body, or my face, or my hair has to be perfect. I should just wake up and be grateful every single day that I have two arms and two legs, that I'm healthy, and that my family is healthy. Those are the things that you really need to be thinking about and be grateful for."
Hillary Clinton, Politico
"When you look at the challenges of being a change-maker and being willing to buck the establishment, it's important to learn how to take criticism seriously but not personally, and to do that you have to be willing to hear what others who are your critics are saying and to evaluate where they are coming from."
Tina Fey, Vogue Diaries
“Confidence is 10 percent hard work and 90 percent delusion — just thinking foolishly that you will be able to do what you want to do.”
Indra Nooyi, BlogHer Keynote Address
"Speak out. Establish your knowledge base and be confident in it as a leader."
Venus Williams, ABC News
"Just believe in yourself. Even if you don't, pretend that you do and, at some point, you will."
St. Vincent, The Rookie Podcast
“I think the ‘faking it till you make it’ thing is very real. If you don’t have confidence, pretend to be a person who does, and eventually you will have confidence because you’ll see the fruits of your reaching out to people.”
Aparna Nancherla, Vulture
“Regardless of how much confidence I have gained as a performer and human, I have an overactive self-awareness that sometimes makes it hard to be around other people without feeling emotionally hypersensitive. You learn to have a personality for being around strangers and even family and friends, but I definitely find time to myself where I feel most at ease, even if my mind is ruffled that day. The Internet and digital communication has provided a salve in that I can engage with others in a more distilled and customized way, though that can be dangerous if you entirely replace all face-to-face interaction.”
Marissa Mayer, CNN.com
"I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that's how you grow. When there's that moment of 'Wow, I'm not really sure I can do this,' and you push through those moments, that's when you have a breakthrough. Sometimes that's a sign that something really good is about to happen. You're about to grow and learn a lot about yourself."
Emma Roberts, Seventeen
"I dress for myself because when I feel good, it doesn't matter what other people say. I think it's all about confidence and the way you carry yourself that draws people to you."
Michelle Obama, Women's Health
"Sometimes I give myself a break. So I will retreat a moment from the fray, just to breathe. Because what I've learned is that my immediate reaction cannot be the deciding reaction. So sometimes I just sort of step back a second, and while I'm stepping back, I talk. I reach out to my friends, my mom, my girlfriends; I vent, I release, I have sounding boards, I get pep talks from colleagues and staff, and then I go back in. . . We each have to find our own coping mechanisms–and this isn't just in terms of the hesitation of finding our voice, but in how we deal with our own stress. It's almost like sports. You have to learn how to play through a loss, play through pain, play through an embarrassing decision on the field. Maybe you get a time-out, you go on the sidelines, but you're going to get back in."
“My number-one thing is that [confidence] doesn’t just happen. You shouldn’t feel discouraged if you’re not waking up and feeling amazing about yourself. That’s not necessarily how it works. It doesn’t take one shopping spree to give you that confidence. It’s a developing process. Everyone goes at their own speed. For me, it’s just something you have to continue to work on. It’s a growth and a process. As long as you take every opportunity to learn more about yourself and fall more in love with yourself every day, you’re doing good."
Solange, Teen Vogue
"I didn’t have the confidence I have now during my teenage years. I had all of these wild ideas that I spent a lot of time trying to convey and convince myself of. But over time you evolve and become really, really comfortable with who you are. Don’t apologize for it! Stand firm and stay consistent. It’s okay to be versatile and play around, but make sure you really clue into what you’re good at. If you there’s something you have a strength in, hold tight to it.”
Cara Delevingne, Glamour
“I think each of us has to look at the root of the issue as to why we cannot feel good about ourselves often enough to celebrate ourselves. It’s larger than what’s happening in the moment of receiving a compliment. Everyone has to figure out why they don’t agree with what’s being said. It’s a self-confidence thing.”
Sheryl Sandberg, Forbes
“Confidence and leadership are muscles. You learn to use them or you learn not to. If you are afraid to speak up at a meeting, every time you force yourself to do it, you get better at it. If you’re afraid to take your seat at the table, every time you take your seat at the table and you realize no one tells you to go get back to the back row, you learn to do it.”
Danielle Brooks, People
"Sometimes I don’t like what I see, but I have the power to change the way in which I relate to my body both physically and mentally."
Iskra Lawrence, via Instagram
"I hope when you see what looks like perfect flawless images of [people] online you don't not ever feel insecure or less beautiful, because it's not real. What's real is you, and you are good enough cus those 'flaws' make you completely unique."
Fearne Cotton, SugarScape
"There’s always something you’re allowed to be thankful for, and if you remember that then the bad things become a lot smaller. I would say that that is probably the best way to feel confident about yourself – be grateful and happy for your lot."
Jennifer Lopez, InStyle
“My mom and my grandmother were the ones who drilled into me, ‘This is how we are, and this is what’s beautiful,’” she said. “Being curvy or not being 6-feet tall was never a bad thing; it was actually something that was celebrated. And so, later on, when I brought that in front of the world, I wasn’t really trying to send a message. I was just being myself.”
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