So why can’t I talk about it the way I want?
Just try it, tell a colleague or a friend that you’re dissatisfied with how you look and wait for their response. More likely than not, they’ll say something like, ‘don’t be silly, you’re so skinny!’ or ‘you should be happy with the way you look!’. Yeah, we all should be and I’m at the stage in life where I’ve more or less accepted the way I am. But for these people who are so resistant to personal expression, they forget about their bouts of insecurity and how
contradictions can be counterproductive. For example, a more honest, toned-down response like: ‘you feel this way about yourself now but it’ll pass’, or ‘if you’re that unhappy about it are you looking to do something about it?’ would make me rethink my moments of self-doubt and instead re-evaluate what is self-love and how I apply it. These are the responses I would find more constructive than condemnation about how I feel towards my body and my expression of it.
Why is self-love a requirement for ‘role models’?
On social media the term ‘self-love’ is thrown around liberally. It’s true that in real life, not enough of us practice it so I get it. I get that it’s a responsibility to show others that it’s okay to accept yourself for who you are and embrace yourself. But personally, admitting that I feel fat is also a form of honesty and although at first, it might seem against the whole self-love movement – it’s not. Most people have those phases where they don’t feel great about the way they look and whether it’s more vanity than health, does that really matter when it’s also a personal preference?
Perpetuating the idea that self-love equates to constant acceptance of yourself kind of makes me feel
worse about those times I don’t want to accept that I’ve gained weight, my skin has broken out or I’m bloated. And I don’t want to accept it because if I can be proactive about finding a solution that shows that I love and respect myself enough to do so.
Of course, there are boundaries. Anything harmful to me or to others, I would never intentionally share. And that’s not even a responsibility I’ve taken on but something that I regard as respect. Like, if another girl were the same size and proportion as me, I wouldn’t think she was overweight or could ‘look better’. She is who she is. But as individuals, we should be allowed to judge ourselves the way we wish.
The hypocrisy of the pressure of self-love
The repression of our self-confidence, no matter or high or low, is prolific. We can’t be too in love with ourselves and show off our bodies, yet we can’t be so insecure and constantly share those thoughts on social media.
There are too many mixed messages, for example, ‘the internet’ seems to think it’s okay to herald a medically overweight because it shows off cellulite and condemn another for being naturally skinny because ribs are deemed as ‘unattractive’. Look on sites like the Daily Mail and you’ll see that the language used to describe women’s bodies are along the lines of ‘curvy’ or ‘sexy’ for one celebrity and ‘let go of herself’ for another – and they are probably the same size in real life.
Self-love has become a tool for messages to serve an individual’s purpose rather than stand for something larger. Why can’t self-love promote: you are beautiful now, but if you want to be better, go and be better because you can?
I know this is a sensitive matter but it’s one that personally affects me, I’m so sick of people thinking they have the right to educate me on my body. Does anyone else feel this way? DM me or drop me an email, I’m always happy to discuss.
Photography by Yibin Huang
Zara bikini and top | Topshop Unique dress | Celine shoes