Glamour teamed up with L’Oréal Paris to conduct a survey of 2,000 women in all 50 states that takes an in-depth look at the factors that buoy and undermine our confidence. Our 50 States of Women series breaks down some of the surprising findings and explores the issues that connect and divide us in 2017.
In survey question after survey question, a pattern emerged: Black women consistently reported higher self-esteem than white or Hispanic women and—among other things—they were far more likely to describe themselves as successful (44 percent said so, compared with 30 percent of white women and 21 percent of Hispanic) and beautiful (59 percent, versus 25 and 32 percent). That’s consistent with other studies, says Jean Twenge, Ph.D., who has examined the effect of race on self-confidence. “Research shows black women score higher on self-esteem than women of other races and ethnicities, which may seem surprising, given the long history of prejudice and discrimination they have faced,” she said.
Jasmine Zapata, 30, a pediatrician from Madison, Wisconsin, understands that phenomenon and says her family helped build her self-confidence. “I was brought up to be resilient and tough and to make it work despite your circumstances,” she says. “That definitely [raised] my confidence and optimism.”
Black women also think more positively about themselves and their bodies when they look in the mirror: 56 percent say “I am proud of the person I am becoming,” and 47 percent say “I am happy the way that I am.” (For white women, those figures are just 37 and 34 percent.) “Growing up, black women are taught you’re strong, you’re beautiful, you’re smart, you’re enough—and that mind-set is passed down from generation to generation as a defense mechanism against discrimination,” says Twenge. “The more confident you are, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with racism.”
hat may also explain why black women celebrated their curves long before body acceptance became a fashionable marketing campaign or empowering hashtag. “In the black community, curves are admired,” says Kosolu Ananti, 34, a fitness instructor from Dallas.
And Alicia White, a 30-year-old executive director of a nonprofit in New York City, says that in her experience, “no one’s judging you based on your weight or …