Hillary Clinton has said the idea of perfection that is often portrayed on social media is “insidious” and undermines the confidence of young women.
The former US secretary of state said that people in the public eye should talk more openly about their failures to break the “taboo” around it in a bid to encourage women to try new things if they are too afraid to fail.
Mrs Clinton, 72, shared her concerns about young women interacting with social media and “looking for or thinking they have seen perfection” while speaking to Fearne Cotton on her Happy Place podcast.
She said: “You know, this idea of perfection is so insidious and it undermines particularly young women’s confidence, their willingness to take a chance that may not fully succeed.
“I mean, you can’t tell how far you will go until you take that first step. And sometimes that first step could be the hardest of all.
“And I am just so worried that the false image of what life is like portrayed on social media is causing a lot of anxiety, stress and even depression among young women… At least that seems to be what is now being reported and researched certainly in our country, but I would imagine elsewhere.”
Mrs Clinton said: “It helps for people who are in the public eye to say, hey, I messed up. I, you know, I had a tough time of it. It wasn’t always easy.
“Just because you see someone like me on a stage speaking, that doesn’t mean that, you know, I was born being able to do that. It’s hard.”
Mrs Clinton was the US Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, having previously been the first lady of the United States while husband Bill Clinton was in office from 1993 until 2001, and the US secretary of state from 2009 until 2013.
She said that “it’s never too late to really go after your dreams”.
But she added: “Now that doesn’t mean you just get up from the couch and go after your dreams. I mean, you have to educate yourself, train yourself, you know, be ready.
“But talking about failure should not be some kind of taboo. It should be much more open and people more willing to share their own stories, which in turn I think can give some courage to others.”
Mrs Clinton’s daughter Chelsea, who also appears on the podcast, told of the impact of having a “gutsy” mother while growing up.
“I don’t think I realised how impactful it was when I was a little girl because she was just my mum,” she said, adding that she did not realise “how kind of special my mum was, except that I thought she was the best mum in the world, because she was my mum, until I got a little bit older”.
Chelsea, 39, added: “And I realised kind of how many kind of slingshots and arrows were directed her way and how she just kept fighting for what she thought was right and also ensured that I always knew I was the most important person in the world.”
The Happy Place podcast by Fearne Cotton featuring Hillary and Chelsea Clinton is available now.