You Should Go And Love Yourself
My journey to self-acceptance — let alone self-love — is nowhere near complete. But the important thing is that I’ve started.
I have never had particularly high self-esteem, and I’ve had negative body image issues from as far back as I can remember. If I think deeply and critically enough, I can probably pinpoint moments that contributed to this. When I was 10 a friend asked me why my thighs were so big. Strangers sometimes laugh. Parents suggested I should dress for “my body type”, which in my mind translated to “hide your body”.
It’s fair to say I had a complicated relationship with my body. However, as time wore on and high school drama melted away, I felt myself itching to create symbiosis between mind, body, and soul.
Every self-help book or article I’ve ever read comes back to self-love, or self-acceptance, as the means of finding inner peace. Rom-coms told me I couldn’t let someone else love me “until I loved myself”. Magazines enticed me with “it starts with you!” slogans. So I started taking my own little steps.
Learning to love — or accept — your body is not as easy as chanting into a mirror the things you like about yourself and then magically believing them. It is a process of gradually transforming your previously-held negative opinions. Like realising that the many scars scattered on my legs from mosquito bites don’t really matter all that much. Like learning to like the gap in between my two front teeth that orthodontists wanted me to fix. Like transforming my perception of my stretch marks. Instead of treating them as a reminder that I was ‘tarnished’ or ‘damaged’, I began seeing them as proof of my existence. Of a life well lived. Every mark, scar, freckle became part of a map on my body; telling the story of how I became the person I am today. These are the things that make me me.
Self-acceptance isn’t all surface level, either. You have to push deeper, and try to accept who you are as a person. Everyone is flawed, and that’s ok. I acknowledge I can be annoyingly stubborn, adamantly closed off, and sometimes inappropriately tactless. But I try not to dwell on these things. Instead, I am proud that I am fiercely opinionated and loyal to my core. Choosing to focus on and cherish my strengths allows me to accept my weaknesses.
Frances Cannon, a Melbourne-based artist, founded a ‘self love club’. Her manifesto on self-love consists of three simple rules:
1. You must always show yourself respect, love, forgiveness & understanding.
2. You must show each other respect, love, forgiveness & understanding.
3. You must be kind to your body, and you must take care of your mental health.
Cannon’s mottos have helped me grow and, in my opinion, they truly encapsulate the importance of caring for your self; mind and body alike.
Self-acceptance isn’t a switch, or an overnight fix to negative self-esteem and body image. It is, however, a step towards self-love. A potentially timid step. But still a step.
Self-love? Not quite there yet.
Self-acceptance? Well on the way.