Ugh self love… I’ve heard this phrase passed around so much lately, but what does it really mean? A lot of people say they love themselves, but don’t when it comes to this thing or that element, so what’s the deal?
My perspective is, self love comes down to self-acceptance; it’s the absence of self-hate. You can’t fully love yourself if you let your insecurities keep you from living your life. I know it sounds weird, but hear me out! Self acceptance doesn’t mean you genuinely love everything about yourself. You can acknowledge that you have things to work on, or things you might like to change someday, but you should also be confident in what you have and who you are as a whole here & now.
It’s a really tough paradox in a way. How will things ever change if I accept them? What if I really do hate some parts of me? How do I grow to love a body I didn’t picture having? I’ve struggled a lot with all of these things over the years, having barely weighed 98 pounds a few years ago to now pushing 120. I have always disliked my nose or my thighs. And to be honest, that’s a hard mentality to change when all you want to do is change yourself. I think the world has conditioned us to think that anything that isn’t perfect can and should be changed. There hasn’t been a push for acceptance until recently, and even still, conventional beauty and body norms are still heavily glorified at the end of the day.
I’m by no means at the stage of total body positivity and confidence, but there are things that I’ve been learning that are good food for thought for anyone trying to achieve the whole “total self love” thing:
- Seriously, I know it’s a cliche but perfection is subjective. Beauty ideals have fluctuated so much over the centuries and even the past 100 years that I’m convinced the problem has never been how you look, but how others decide they’re going to feel about you based on your physical appearance.
- Human beings are actually really amazing in the amount of diversity (shapes, sizes, eye colors, complexions, heights, expressions, etc.) we have compared to other living things and being so different, yet still connected to one another is a pretty special part about being a person. If everyone is so unique, why should beauty standards be one size fits all? Or better yet, why should there be any standards in the first place?
- Support systems are great, but ultimately the best support comes from within yourself because then you won’t need anyone to provide you with validation.
- Speaking of support, surround yourself with people who lift you up, not put you down or try to make you feel insecure. If they don’t love and respect you for who you are, trust me, they do not deserve a spot at your table. Don’t settle for a love that’s less.
- Be kind to yourself. Train that negative voice in your head to be nice, to compliment instead of criticize. Changing habits starts by changing your mindset.
- Don’t force others to conform to what you think is the ideal. Again, everyone is on their own path and we should all be here to support each other, never judge. It’s definitely hard sometimes because we’re almost trained to judge others, but it’s a mindset shift more than worth making!
- Last but not least, confidence isn’t built overnight. It’s built by months and years of replacing the negative with the positive, embracing the beauty you possess in this moment (yes, EVERYONE is beautiful!), and working towards your goals without letting them define you. You’ll never grow if you beat yourself up constantly.
Whew, kind of a lot, I know! I’ve just been thinking a lot lately about who I am, where I’ve been, and all the beauty and struggle that’s combined to make me into the person I am now: 120something pounds, acne scarred, fashionista, female engineer, writer, blogger, in shape but out of shape, former dancer, first person in my family to graduate college, wife, dog mom, daughter, unusual nose, asymmetrical face, sister, friend, and so much more. Where we’ve been doesn’t define where we’ll go, but it makes up the mosaic of who we are in this moment, so appreciate all the elements of your being; you wouldn’t be you without them.
So if you still want to lose ten pounds or change your appearance, that’s totally okay! But don’t let your ultimate goals keep you from loving you now. You’re beautiful at any weight, any face, and every moment, and your story is part of that beauty. Any changes that you make will just be new chapters in an already wonderful book. Bottom line is, don’t let insecurity steal the thunder from the perfect storm that is you.
That’s how you love your body at every age & every stage. By loving YOU.
Hope this helped anyone struggling out there! Sending all the love!