(Edited: Previously published in The Jet Jotter at Longmeadow High School)

As I step out of the shower, I am confronted with my naked body peeking back at me through the fog on the mirror. I tug at my thighs, poking at the dimples and dips in my legs. I squeeze my stomach, stretching the unwanted skin flat. I prod at my skin, picking at the blemishes scattered across my face. What is confidence?

Teenage girls across the nation partake in "body bashing". As part of the thirteen to 21 year old's social interactions, girls take turns picking apart their bodies for the things they dislike most, bonding over their insecurities. They bash the freckles on their skin or the curves around their waists, hoping their flaws will disappear. Common exchanges between friends might include how Jen, "hates having big boobs" but Jess "would kill to have a smaller butt" like Jen's. Interactions like these lead to serious internal body-shaming and even development of eating disorders.

I see it first hand, I am one of these girls. I spend my daily life worried about how others view me, not how I view myself. I spend hours at the gym, working my muscles and my mind to be at balance with who I am and who I want to be. But the "body bashing" is so instilled within me that I can't see around it.

This culture feeds into the idea that it's okay to objectify ourselves. "Body bashing" promotes self-hate, distorts body image and allows for the development for eating disorders and anxiety. It encourages girls to feed off of each other for compliments to fuel their self-confidence, instead of growing it organically. We all know those girls that turn the compliments they receive back on themselves. Conversations turn from compliments to self-doubt, "Lizzy, you look so great today!" "Thanks but I barely had time this morning, I didn't even do my makeup and my hair is a mess". The compliment itself isn't good enough, causing girls to question themselves and their confidence.

Having confidence is a whole different game in an entirely different sport on a ball field miles away. If you have too much confidence, you're seen as "cocky", while if you lack confidence, you're viewed as "unattractive". Believing in your own abilities and accomplishments is a good place to start.

It's proven that confident women succeed in their personal and professional relationships, rank higher in their jobs and hold positions of authority with more integrity. In a world where women are making their mark and working for equality, it only makes sense for us to be confident.

Now, it's easier said than done. But, starting with demolishing "body bashing" culture is a great place to begin. Replacing one negative thought with three positive thoughts is the first step to changing not only your attitude, but those around you.