Throughout the course of my undergraduate studies in Psychology, I’ve been introduced to the term “egocentrism” multiple times. For those of you not familiar with the term, it was coined by the developmental psychologist Jean Piaget.
For the purposes of his work, Piaget defined egocentrism as a period in young children’s lives that is characterized by thinking about the world in reference to your own perceptions. What this means is that children have a hard time understanding that there may be any kind of reality that does not match the one that they are presently experiencing.
I’ll give you an example. A two year old hides her head under a blanket and when you tell her you can see her, she doesn’t believe you. In her mind, because she cannot see you, you cannot see her.
I’ll give you another example. A three year old really likes cookies. She has a handful of cookies, and a handful of broccoli. You tell her that you really like broccoli. When you ask her to “please give me some”, you would think that an older person would give you what you prefer (the broccoli). But this three year old won’t do that. She will give you what she prefers, the cookies, because she cannot understand that someone has a preference different to her own. This is egocentrism.
The reason why I bring this up is because I have a suspicion that egocentrism still characterizes the thought patterns many of young women (and possibly others, however, I am speaking only from my experience). I don’t mean this in the sense that I still feel as if another individual cannot have a perception of reality, a view or opinion or preference, which differs from mine. I mean this to describe the negative thought patterns that are characteristic of young women who struggle with body image issues.
I know, and you know, that no matter how many times your friends or partner compliment you on your physique or your complexion or your smile, you can’t imagine that they see something that you don’t. You think that because your head is hidden beneath a blanket of insecurity, that they too are subject to feeling the same way as you do about all of your self-declared flaws.
You think that because you prefer cookies, or the tall and slender physique of that girl from the gym, they must too prefer cookies (or the girl from the gym). But they don’t, they prefer broccoli (you).
I understand that it is easier said than done to toss aside these egocentric views of yourself. But please do. Please do. Just because you can’t see your beauty and worth, doesn’t mean the rest of the world can’t. Come out from the blanket.