To change the lives of women all over the world – one young woman at a time
Driven by this mission statement, confidence coach, speaker and trainer Stella Maher helps young women to transform from feeling insecure to becoming more confident and self-assured in their own skin, through her holistic personal development programme. Founder of The Lioness Within Coaching, Stella aims to empower young women between the ages of 14-20 and help them recognise their value and worth, not based upon how they look or their popularity on social media, but rather on who they are and who they stand for. Her decision to work with young women was inspired by her own struggles with a lack of confidence and low self-esteem for most of her life. She vividly recounts being picked on and called names by school bullies on her appearance during her upbringing in Nigeria, which resulted in deep body image insecurities.
In 2014, Stella decided to become a life coach. At the time, she ran a small home business, marketing products in the health and wellness industry. Quickly exposed to a new world of self-development through various workshops and training, she was inspired to start believing in her capabilities.
When I realised that the sky was the limit, I was inspired to become a coach.
Today, she focuses on teaming up with schools, charities or organisations that work with young people to spread her message. Stella strongly believes that “Prevention is better than cure.”
It is easier to arm a young woman with the knowledge and skills that will help her to become more confident and empowered to cope with modern-day pressures; than to treat and support her when she resorts to self-harming, disordered eating or succumbs to depression. It becomes more difficult, more painful, more time-consuming and more resources will be required.
Can you give us a summary of the first few sessions of your coaching programme, what they might consist of?
The first part of my programme involves getting young women to refocus their mindset in terms of how they think, learn, cope with peer pressure and deal with other people’s negative opinions. I have learned from personal experiences of how being victimised as a young person can plague your adult life.
The second session focuses on self-awareness. Helping them to learn about themselves and become more aware of who they are as individuals. Self-awareness inspires self-love, builds self-worth and makes you more compassionate towards others. When you are more self-aware, you are less likely to be a bully, a cheat or be unkind to others. Leading on from that, I teach skills such as goal setting, time management and coping with stress.
Taking this further, I help young women to understand and appreciate their unique individual body shapes and to take pride in their appearance. We all come in different shapes and sizes! The most important thing is to focus on keeping healthy and happy, looking good in your own skin, rather than bowing to any pressures to be skinny.
There has been an increase in positive online awareness from a variety of female figures and celebrities from the likes of Michelle Obama to Iskra Lawrence. This has enabled conversations on body image and overcoming insecurities to be much more common and open. Have you personally noticed positive changes in your work?
Yes. I have noticed that there is more awareness both online and on TV programmes about the importance of encouraging young people to develop a healthy body image, as this is so crucial to their mental health. More and more, we are seeing curvy and full-bodied women appearing in advertisements, and body shaming does seem to be on the decrease. But we’re definitely not there yet – a lot of work still needs to be done to promote respect and appreciation for all body types, particularly in young people. Personally in my work, it’s very fulfilling to get positive feedback from young people telling me how they are now starting to view themselves in a completely different light, from how they previously did in the past.
Let’s talk about social media. Today, it plays a huge role in our daily life and how we interact with one another.
In your LinkedIn article, Is Social Media Piling Too Much Pressure On Young Women To Look Perfect? You discuss the effects of social media on young girls and their mental health. With changes being made in the industry like the recent trialling of removing the visibility of ‘likes’ on Instagram in attempts to reduce online anxiety, what is your opinion? What needs to be done to change our relationship with social media?
Social media has its good and bad sides. You can come across so many positive people to learn from, mentors and role models to look up to. Equally, you can also find nasty content. Knowing where to draw the line and being careful with what you expose yourself to is key in making the most of social media.! It’s all about balance and not getting sucked into its negative aspects. It is so easy for young people and even adults to get attached to checking how many ‘likes’ they get for their posts, it’s almost addictive – particularly for young people who view it as a validation of their popularity, worth and influence. It also feeds into the pressure on young people to have large followings on their social media profiles.
I don’t know if removing the visibility of ‘likes’ on Instagram posts is going to bring positive results – only time will tell. In my opinion, education and creating more awareness about the addictive and ‘hyped’ side of social media. Particularly for young people, is the way to change our relationship with social media. It’s so important to help young people to realise that their value and self-worth are not based on the number of ‘likes’ they get for their posts or how popular they are on a digital platform.
A few lines of advice for other women who want to take the leap and start their own business, but maybe lack confidence in themselves?
If you truly believe that you have a message to share and that it will help others, go for it, even if you don’t believe in yourself at first. If you’re prepared to learn and put in the work, the sky is the limit. If you’re struggling, get support, find a mentor, get coached but don’t allow impostor syndrome and lack of self-belief to stop you from fulfilling your dreams and making a positive impact on the lives of other people.
To find out more information about Stella’s work, visit https://www.stellamaher.com/.