Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem

By Gloria Steinem

2,205 ratings - 4.12* vote

“Without self-esteem, the only change is an exchange of masters; with it, there is no need for masters.” —Gloria SteinemWhen trying to find books to give to “the countless brave and smart women I met who didn’t think of themselves as either brave or smart,” Gloria Steinem realized that books either supposed that external political change would cure everything or that inter “Without self-esteem, the only change is an exchange of masters; with it, there is no need for masters.”

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Book details

Paperback, 432 pages
January 20th 1993 by Little, Brown and Company

(first published 1991)

Original Title
Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem
0316812471 (ISBN13: 9780316812474)

Community Reviews


I can't believe I waited until I was 34 to read this book. If someone had handed this to me when I was 21 or so it would have saved me so much pain from making idiotic choices because I didn't know better, or have an example as to how to navigate a world that I wasn't emotionally equipped to handle. I wouldn't have married an abuser. I wouldn't have looked for my "missing half" in another person, I would have learned it was already there, in myself.

I skipped over this book dozens of times when I saw it for sale. I assumed (wrongly) it was a straight "self help" how to feel good about yourself book. That is part of it, yes, but it examines WHY women AND men feel badly about themselves.

It examines gender stereotypes, dysfunctions we learn from our parents, how most organized religion reinforces gender roles and subservience, how we are taught to separate ourselves by gender, color, ability etc from such a young age that we fall into the traps generations before us fell into. Only by examining societal norms, media images, religious teachings, and our own upbringings can we piece the puzzle together. Without this work we just perperuate these dysfunctions and alienate ourselves from our own truths and strengths.

I wish every young man and woman on the planet had access to this book, to its teachings, it's THAT important.

The bibliography in the back is worth the price alone - it has an excellent selection of books on subjects explored in here, and I'm sure my "to read" list just increased big time.

Jackie Medecki

This book made me a feminist and started me down the path to self discovery.


This book sat on my currently-reading list for what seems like forever. It took me a long time to finish the text, not because it isn't interesting, but rather because it is. I took a lot of time savoring Steinem's words and doing a lot of highlighting and mental note-taking. (Actually, I should have taken more written notes; they serve me a lot better). I have always admired Steinem as a straightforward, pull-no-punches feminist. (I have a picture of her in my office with the quote, "When violence against women and girls ends . . . I will do other things.") This lengthy 1992 essay contains a fair amount of discussion on the injustices toward women in numerous societies and how this affects self-esteem through generations, but her main themes that "it's never too late to have a happy childhood" and that one can un-learn old feelings of fear and lack of self-worth are aimed at men and women alike. Fans of the Bronte sisters will enjoy Steinem's chapter about Charlotte's Jane Eyre and Emily's Wuthering Heights and her comments that romance does not really equal love. Steinem also shares her own experience in a former relationship where she and her partner made the mistake of "loving someone for what one needs instead of who the other person really is." I especially enjoyed her later chapters about how closeness to nature and animals is therapeutic and effective in building and restoring inner peace and self-esteem. Finally, Steinem includes at the end a Meditation Guide in which she outlines instructions on how one can mentally go backward in time and "re-parent" oneself; that is, gently invite the hurt child that is inside and comfort and aid him/her in the here and now, then help the child cope and move on leaving behind pain and bitterness.

Nielmarie Rose

Haven't heard of Gloria Steinem until I got myself a copy of this book. I have read more than a dozen self-help books and most of them say one thing - if you want to be succesful, you have to start from within. Then I ask, what within? Steinem answered that. It's self esteem. Steinem, and the experiences of people she used in this book made me revisit the monsters of my past and face them, head on. I may not be a totally changed person after reading this, but it sure awakened something in me.


For me, better than years of therapy--a life-changer. Re-read often.


First of all, who can can reflect on the evolution of feminism in the U.S., nay, the world, without thinking simultaneously of Gloria Steinem? And as forward-thinking as I consider myself, feminism feels like a turnoff. Only after watching a Steinem documentary on HBO did I become interested in her. And this woman is the real thing. In Self Esteem, Steinem is mind-blowingly intelligent. As a woman, a parent, a child, and a human thinker, this book speaks to me. She integrates many disciplines-sociology, psychology, education, history, spiritualism-into one important book. I particularly think that all young women should see Ibsen's Doll's House as well as read this book. In reading this book, I am now keenly aware how thankless and unappreciative I have been of the actual women who went before me to achieve equality EVERYWHERE in society, not just the workplace. Steinem is always careful not to just consider the insurgent or repressed groups, but also to lament how oppression limits the dominant groups. I am so humbled by her achievements, it makes me want to serve the world as quickly as possible, and to keep the use of Ms. alive.


I read this a long time ago and its exact contents are hazy in my mind. However, I do remember having a sense of being nurtured by her. There was no proselytizing or sense of superiority that some authors writing in this genre seem to possess. What really came across was her great compassion towards women and their personal struggles.


Part memoir, part cultural critique, part self-help book, Gloria Steinem's Revolution from Within remains extremely innovative in its premise of connecting the concept to individual self-esteem to the larger context of social justice. Despite being written nearly 20 years ago, the book's message remains profoundly relevant: the political is personal. From education, to science, to romance Steinem deftly demonstrates the ways in which we can lose our self, because of the messages we absorb from the cultural mainstream, but more importantly offers practical (and some not so practical)solutions for finding our way again. Highly recommended for anyone at a crossroads in their life. The book doesn't offer pat solutions, so much as ask the right questions and it's bound to open mental avenues that were previously blocked or invisible.

Katrina Sark

One of the best non-fiction books I have ever read!

It provides so much well-researched insight into human nature, psychology, gender and race inequalities, behavioural patterns, and self-esteem with so much empathy and kindness, you will want to live in this book.

Gloria Steinem managed to find the most comforting writing voice to deliver crucial messages about our many personal and cultural insecurities and weaknesses. Unlike many male authors, her authorial voice is devoid of an overpowering sense of ego, and she invites us to contemplate the source of our individual and collective dysfunctionalities with kindness and true open-mindedness.

Indrani Sen

This is a milestone read of my life. My life will change because of this book.

There is so much food for thought here. There is so much love. I am looking at myself and my life differently now. I hope to love myself a lot more now.

My kind, intelligent, beautiful friends (women and men both) - please please read this book.

Sorry I am not quite able to write a proper "intellectual" review of this book. My response so far is visceral and emotional. I will very soon read the book again. Plan to do a proper review then.