From Comparison to Confidence: Advice from Two Experts on Nurturing Self-Esteem

Last month, we asked you to submit your self-love questions. Now, the answers are in. Re-meet our two pros with two POVs—sometimes they align, and other times have completely different stances on your quandaries. 

Read on to see if your question was selected and maybe even learn something along the way—because who doesn’t need a little (un)solicited advice? 

Get to know Expert #1 


I’m 34 years old and have had my fair share of self-love ups and downs when it comes to my body. From a very early age I was considered overweight (hello, growing up in the ‘90s and early 00s when ultra- skinny was the ideal) and spent six summers at a weight-loss camp. Needless to say, the road to embracing, appreciating, and loving the way I look and feel hasn’t always been a smooth one (just ask the cellulite on my thighs)—but I’m proud to say I’ve done a lot of work (and a lot of therapy) and I’ve come into my body from a place of confidence. 

Get to know Expert #2 


My body has gone through many evolutions in my four plus decades on this planet including childbirth which, I can attest, will do things to your parts that you never dreamed possible. But pregnancy and age has also made me give fewer f**ks than ever before about outsider opinions on my body and cultural perceptions of how it’s supposed to look. 

Q: How do I feel beautiful? 

Jenn: Okay, not to be in my feels, but beauty starts from the inside and radiates out. So, do something that makes you happy and let it envelope you. That could be calling a friend to meet for a coffee, taking a long walk on a sunny day, or maybe that’s just literally putting on your best makeup and favorite outfit and taking the town by storm. Find what makes your insides feel best and let that take over. 

Cristina: What makes someone feel beautiful is entirely individual—like, the “woke up like this” brand of beauty ain’t it for me but there are some who revel in rising and selfie-ng. BUT if there is, in my opinion, one universal harbinger of beauty, it’s laughter: when you’re in the moment and enjoying yourself and laughing you’re not thinking about how you look. And, often, that’s when you’re radiating the most beauty. Consider this a bid to have more fun. 

Q: How can I love and embrace my body—including stretch marks—as a part of my self-love journey? 

Jenn: In the world of the internet, it’s so easy to forget that stretch marks, cellulite, skin texture, etc. are—say it with me now—NORMAL. Even the supermodels we idolize have them (trust me, I’ve seen it for myself!). Start thinking about all the good things your body does for you and try not to focus as much on the little imperfections. When you start to see your body as a giver of happiness, not a taker, it’s so much easier to love. 

Cristina: While our heavily filtered world has certainly further stunted our beauty ideals—no, no one’s skin actually looks like that IRL—we have also, in recent years, seen much more radical acceptance of things like stretch marks and cellulite. There are modern artists like Sara Shakeel, who have used stretch marks as a creative canvas, taking something, we have long been taught to hide or feel shame about and placed it in a new light. And, of course, centuries ago artists like Rubens and Renoir centered women with curves in their work. Who decided they were imperfections anyway? The more we care less about them, the less power they have over how we feel about ourselves. 

Q: What can you do to make yourself more confident? 

Jenn: Girl, I have to be so for real with you, I fake it ‘til I make it. I’m a single lady dating in New York, and I know I have to put myself out there. I can tell you, even if I don’t actually feel my best, if I approach someone (doesn’t always have to be a romantic interest—this works for people in general) with confidence, it is well received 95% of the time. And then, you reach a point where you’re no longer “faking it”—the confidence is real. 

Cristina: I like to channel the spirit of my five-year-old who has zero qualms about approaching anybody, anywhere, and responds to each challenge with: I can do that. The older we get, the more our heads seem to get in our own way. So, I would encourage you to do what you can to tap into your childhood self, back before we built up all the insecurities and our vision of who we were was clear. 

Q: How do I deal with weight gain? Should I try to lose it or be proud of my weight? 

Jenn: Please know, you are not alone here. I have yo-yoed my entire life and it’s so hard to love every version of yourself. I think it’s important to ask, “who am I doing this for?”. If the answer is anyone but you, then it’s time to reevaluate. And consider how you feel—literally. If you’re physically comfortable or uncomfortable, that’s a good indication of what to do next. 

Cristina: I’m going to answer your question with questions. Do you feel good at the weight you are now? Are you strong and healthy? (And remember weight alone is not the sole barometer of health—make sure you consider factors like blood pressure and cholesterol, among others—nor is it something that remains stagnant throughout most of our lives.) Is the thought of losing weight something influenced by other voices that aren’t your own? Yes, yes, yes? You’re good. 

Q: How can I stop comparing my body to another person? 

Jenn: Not to throw cliches at you—but it’s true—comparison is the thief of joy. But I get it, easier said than done. I think it’s important to know that everyone has insecurities, so that body you put on a pedestal, yeah, she has insecurities about it, too. The sooner you put the focus back on yourself and stop projecting the sooner you can find fulfillment in your own skin. 

Cristina: The comparison game (when it comes to your body, but also your job, income, and relationship) is a hard one to stop engaging in. Everything tends to look rosier when you’re on the outside looking in. Something I like to remember when I get caught in the spin cycle of body comparison is to shift my thinking from what my body looks like to what it can do and what it has done. Feeling strong in your skin goes far in helping you feel good in it. 

Jenn is the Copy Director at Victoria’s Secret and has spent the past 10 years writing for brands like Club Monaco, Free People, SoulCycle, and more. She has a degree in English from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. When she’s not chipping away at Pulitzer Prize-winning copy (dream big, right?), you’ll find her living beyond her means by venturing to new restaurants, exploring local shops, and petting other people’s dogs.