Recently I realized that self love is the ultimate act of rebellion.
I haven’t always been kind to myself. Fueled by perfectionism, competition and a fear of scarcity I used to let myself get wrapped up in the self hate body bashing the media feeds us. I tried to force myself into boxes that I didn’t even find appeasing. Managing to make myself smaller literally and figuratively in an effort to fit in. I did not do this for me – I thought it was what I was supposed to do and I’m not alone in falling for that trap.
The beauty and wellness industries make millions off of this societally fed self hatred. In the US the beauty industry alone makes upwards of $49 million and the wellness industry dupes us into diet pills at a whopping $4.2 trillion globally! Obviously not everything in the beauty or wellness industry is “bad” but they all share a common thread – the less we love ourselves the more money they make.
Not only is this desire to be homogenous excessive, exhausting and expensive but it is also inauthentic. We can spend chunks of change on trying to make ourselves more loveable but in the end the true work comes from the inside. How we feel about ourselves matters more than how we look – yet somehow we have been taught to equate the two.
So how do we separate our self love from how we appear? We start rebelling.
Don’t worry – I’m not telling you to give up your beauty routine to love yourself (I love lipstick and I have no shame in saying that) but let’s get real about why we buy the things we buy. I love working out and fitness. I truly enjoy running, weight lifting and fitness classes but if I start buying pilates machines to have at home because it will make me look like a pilates instructor I am doing it for the wrong reason!
Before I buy something in relation to the beauty or wellness world I ask myself some discovery questions:
- Am I buying this from a place of power or because I feel like I lack something?
- Does this item make me feel more confident or like I am hiding a part of myself?
- Am I buying this to help me feel healthier or because I believe “healthy” has a specific look and this will help me achieve it?
- Am I buying this product to change myself into a more homogenous person or does it help me honor my authentic self?
There are no rights and wrongs here we just want to make sure our brain understands that we are buying things that make us feel like “us” and happy, not because someone decided that we should look a certain way.
My favorite anecdote for people who are trying to build their self love and self confidence is to remind them that some white dude in marketing is probably writing the campaigns, or is at least the major decision maker behind them, that make them feel like they need flawless skin or toned legs. Let’s call him Dave. Dave probably does not have flawless skin or toned legs. Yet he makes money off of us believing that we need flawless skin and toned legs. Do you need flawless skin or toned legs to survive? Absolutely not. Do you even want flawless skin? Probably not. But somehow Dave has convinced us that we do. If we ignore the marketing and only buy items that we want we are being rebellious. Don’t fall for Dave’s self hate fueled marketing trick.
Practicing Kindness with Ourselves
The other way I started rebelling against institutionalized self hatred is by being over the TOP on my self love conversations with myself.
As a perfectionist I like to hold myself to insurmountable goals and standards. I’ve worked to consciously lower those standards and as part of that work I have begun celebrating every single little thing I do with the verve of a toddlers birthday party. Not every task gets balloons and streamers but I try to do at least one of these:
- I tell myself affirmations like “I am so proud of you for trying a new thing regardless of how it turns out!” or “You are loveable regardless of your productivity”. It can feel a bit hokey but it works – I promise!
- I give gratitude to myself “I am grateful for my tenacity to get this new task done” or “I am grateful that I have the time and energy to work on this new project”. Anything that shows appreciation for myself – bonus points if it isn’t about how I look.
- I brag about myself! Women are statistically less likely to brag about themselves so I try to communicate my worth out loud to someone! It can be to a social media post, a friend, or a family member.
Be rebellious and brag about yourself. Run your first mile? Brag about it! Write a poem? Brag about it! Enjoy your accomplishments and celebrate you.
The Results of Self Love
I’ve been working on being kinder to myself for years now and recently I’ve begun to notice a MAJOR shift in how I think about myself. I’m more empathetic towards myself, I give myself more space to make mistakes and I’ve stopped worrying that other people will misinterpret my intent because I know what I meant and my intentions.
Being kind to ourselves is hard. The world is designed to make money off of our self hatred. Be a rebel and practice self love!
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** please do not use this post to replace mental or physical health care from a physician. Always work with a licensed professional when it comes to your health.