January 13, 2017

Keira Wright


Want to hear something surprising? The definition of self-respect is:

“Pride and confidence in oneself; a feeling that one is behaving with honour and dignity.”

I see four key words here: pride, confidence, honour and dignity. I ask you, how could you possibly look at a young woman and decide that the clothes which she wears indicate a lack of these traits?

How many young people haven’t heard a young woman being told that she has “no self-respect” due to what she is wearing, or what she has been doing with her own body? This statement is too often used to try and shame women and trick them into thinking that what they are doing is wrong.

If a woman is happy with who she is and what she is doing, then that’s all that matters. Whether they’re wearing a tight skirt and heels, or trackies and a jumper, they’re entitled to do and dress as they please. Respect for oneself is not lost within the fabric of an item of clothing. Every inch taken off a top or a skirts length does not equal a shred of self-respect being lost.

It is when a girl feels as though due to these actions she is not as confident, proud or dignified, that she loses self-respect, and guess what—that’s normally due to a sense of being judged by others. If a young woman wants to make decisions that society judges, nobody should ever, ever, be entitled to tell her that she has ‘no self-respect’.

Do you think by shaming a woman, she’ll respect herself more? Hopefully the answer is no.

Judgement will only make her feel like she has to fit certain criteria to be happy with herself. That in order to be able to love herself, she can only do things which society deems as appropriate, not what she chooses for herself.

Let’s think about another young woman. She wears conservative clothing, is too afraid to be physically intimate with anyone, and she doesn’t post pictures of herself online for the worry that she might be judged – where to now?

Considering that this situation affected one of my close friends, I can only tell how the story ended for her. She began wearing shorter clothing and more makeup. The number of parties she was invited to increased, and with it, her confidence did too. Boys began paying her attention, encouraging her changing attitude.

This was until she went for a Maccas run after a party one night, and was told by an older man that she should be ashamed of herself, and that her “lack of self-respect” was appalling. As he walked away, he muttered “whore” under his breath. Guess how my friend dresses again now, and how much she enjoys parties.

This is why we need to take a stand. As young people, no matter what our size, race, religion, sexual identity—we are all still individuals trying to overcome judgement, and that is something which unites us. I ask of you all, please do whatever makes you happy, and do not denounce what this may be for anyone else.

Yes, this means that if you feel good after posting a picture where you think you look good, go ahead, but only if it makes you happy. If you want to wear a skirt which you think is super cute but you are worried what comments others might make, wear it—but only if it makes you happy! Remember that self-respect is about how you feel about yourself—so embrace your choices and remember to respect yourself.

Just always keep in mind what the definition of self-respect really is. It is to have pride in yourself and what you do. It is to be confident in yourself, and the choices you make. It is to have honour for yourself, and the life you choose to lead. It is to feel dignified in yourself, in what you say and do.

And one more thing, although it is not included in the definition of self-respect, I think there’s one thing that needs to be added in. Love.

It is also to have love for oneself—love in what you do, love for what you choose to wear, and love for who you are—and for that matter, who you choose to be.


– Keira Wright

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