People with eating disorders (especially girls) have a biased perception of their body. They feel fat and unfit and no feedback (from a mirror, from parents, or from friends) seems able to shake the perception that there is something wrong with their body. Their body needs to be controlled, shaped and disciplined.
At the same time, they are extremely sensitive to feedback (from peer, media, advertising) that reinforces their biased and negative body image (Debbie Notkin and Laurie Toby Edison, who I met at Blogher, blog about this on Body Impolitic). The loving and caring act of nourishing their body becomes a harsh act of self-discipline and self-mortification.
I started to wonder if a similar mechanism operates on women’s self-image at work. Do women have a biased self-image when it comes to their skills and talents? Do they have a hypersensitive negative feedback loop and a high-threshold positive loop?
I don’t want to generalize to all women (we had many examples of strong, assertive, successful women at Blogher). I am talking about women who are clearly talented and highly skilled and yet substantially underestimate their value and their abilities. I am talking about the women who attribute their failures to themselves and their successes to chance and circumstances.