HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: "If you think you're excellent at everything, you might just be right."

Back yourself.

Fake it til you make it.

Know your worth.

Carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man.

Yes, ladies, CONFIDENCE is the inspirational female call-to-action of our time. Stop apologising. Start self-promoting. Shoulders back, spin out front. Let’s get shit done. Let’s DO THIS.

Are you feeling fired up? Like you could take on the world? Like there’s nothing you can’t do?

Great. Now read this, it’s a quote from the accomplished actress, producer and mogul-in-the-making Reese Witherspoon, in a paragraph from last weekend’s The Weekend Australian Magazine:

“I was never going to be an actor who lives in their car because their dream was so big. [If acting didn’t work] I would have gone from Stanford to ­medical school and become a surgeon. Right now, I’d probably be the premier surgeon and paediatric ­cardiologist at Vanderbilt University,” she says, pausing. “What? I’m just being honest. I’m ambitious, and I’m over hiding that.” 

reese witherspoon 2018
“What? I’m just being honest. I’m ambitious, and I’m over hiding that.” Image via Getty.

Oh. Really? A "premier surgeon and paediatric ­cardiologist"?

Ooh, someone's got tickets on themselves.

That's just up yourself, right? Big-headed? Borderline delusional?

Is that what confidence looks like? Then no, we don't want that, thanks very much. Show some humility, woman.

And that, right there, is the rub. Like so very many things in a woman's world, when we say we want the confidence to pursue our dreams, what we mean is we want the Goldilocks version of confidence.

Listen: We argue about Reese Witherspoon's comments on this week's episode of Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below. 

Not too little, not too much, just the right amount: Be thin but not too thin, be sexy but not too sexy, be a great mum but don't be  obsessed with your kids, be healthy but not boring... the list goes on.

As Reese Witherspoon rightly points out, a woman admitting she is ambitious makes our culture uncomfortable. And a woman admitting she's actually really bloody good at what she does, that maybe she'd be good at whatever she did, makes people pretty much ropeable.


Statistics show, over and over again, that the "Confidence Gap" is a part (only a part, obviously, there's also the whole patriarchy thing) of the answer to why women, while now outstripping men when it comes to academic results and education levels, are still grossly underrepresented in professional positions of power.

A British study in 2011 surveyed male and female managers about confidence. Of the 2000 people in the experiment, half the women reported that self-doubt affected their job performance and careers, compared to less than a third of the men.

Reese Witherspoon does not suffer from self-doubt, but it's a trait we love in women.

"She's so self-deprecating, so down to earth," we say, about women who score highly on the likeability index. "She's so real," we coo about anyone who's happy to admit that some days, their imposter syndrome is crippling.

But maybe it's time we all took a leaf out of Reese's book, and stopped rewarding insecurity. Maybe if we all started talking ourselves up, that Confidence Gap would begin to close.

Yeah you do. ????????????????

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Because here's another take on confidence, from another accomplished woman  excellent write/comic/actor Tina Fey, who says, “Confidence is 10 per cent hard work and 90 per cent delusion — just thinking foolishly that you will be able to do what you want to do.”

Let me start. I'm in my mid-40s and have just started yoga classes for the first time.

Next year, I'm going to be a prima ballerina.

Too much?

Does lack of confidence hold you back? Do you wish you had a touch of Reese?