“7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school, and relationships with friends and family members.” (Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund)
Enough. A word that haunts girls and women alike.
Am I skinny enough to be beautiful? Am I smart enough to get the job? Am I sexy enough to find a boyfriend? Am I modest enough to get respect? Am I selfless enough to be a good person?
We are asked to be skinny but curvy, smart but unassuming, beautiful but natural, selfless but not dependent. We are rarely called to be ourselves.
The word “enough” is like a corset, robbing us of breath, but still not quite tight enough. We are asked to be skinny but curvy, smart but unassuming, beautiful but natural, selfless but not dependent. We are rarely called to be ourselves.
Pimps and traffickers prey on vulnerability. One pimp explained that when he scouted out malls for girls, he looked for groups of three. He wouldn’t approach the “prettiest” girl – she didn’t need affirmation. He wouldn’t approach the “ugliest” girl either – she wouldn’t trust his attention. Instead, he would focus on the girl in the middle; the girl who didn’t know where she fit.
Sometimes, traffickers and pimps are the first people to say, “You are enough.”
“You are enough.” These words have power, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. In the mid-twentieth century, Abraham Maslow identified 5 categories of human need. He then ranked these categories, suggesting that while all are necessary, some are more important than others, like food, water, and shelter. Pimps and traffickers can meet the needs of survivors at any of these levels. They can provide a place to sleep, food to eat, a sense of safety for runaways, and even a romantic relationship. The problem with this model is it places self-esteem so high up on the pyramid. If we don’t believe we are “enough,” we will fall at the feet of the first person that says we are. If we don’t believe we are “enough,” we may resign ourselves to a bad situation, convinced that we deserve it or that we can’t find anything better. Sometimes, traffickers and pimps are the first people to say, “You are enough.”
The word “enough” implies there is a goal to be reached, but it never questions if that goal is reasonable. It emphasizes our flaws, something we need to overcome, rather than grace, something we can cling to. What if we stop trying to fix the things that are “broken,” and instead choose to live into what we already are? We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and we are more than enough. When did we stop believing that?
Believing that we are enough does not mean we no longer set goals or have standards; it simply means our worth is not dependent on meeting those goals.
We need to model self-love because without it, we will continue to search for love and worth in all the wrong places – in places that can only ever be temporary. Self-esteem is not something we have; it’s something that is given to us. In a world that tells us we are not “enough,” we need to proclaim that we are more than enough. Believing that we are enough does not mean we no longer set goals or have standards; it simply means our worth is not dependent on meeting those goals. We are loved before we make a move or take a breath; we can never lose that love.
Carrie Cabush is a volunteer and trainer for Love True's Parent Seminar. She is currently a seminary student and hopes to begin graduate work for social work soon. She loves coffee, Bollywood movies, reading until the wee hours of the morning, and watching her friends and family embrace their passions.