Let’s be honest. Just how much do you love yourself? Put a number on it. Out of 10? Put a monetary figure on it if you like. If I wanted to buy your self-love for myself, how much would you charge me? How much is it worth?
For the longest time I lived in a long distance relationship with my body. I kept my space from it. We got along well enough for everyone to believe everything was ok, but the truth was a different story. My body was just that, a body. Something to exist in. I never thought of my body in terms of beauty or attractiveness because I knew I’d always be disappointed. I avoided mirrors. Subconsciously at first, until a friend pointed it out to me. Yeah it was that bad that he noticed. After that I deliberately stayed away from my reflection. If I was walking past reflective windows I’d cross to the other side. I was always the person holding the camera, because why on earth would I want to stand next to beautiful people?
See the thing is, I didn’t hate my body. I didn’t obsess over it. I just tolerated it for what it was; nothing special. There’s this thing of existing between realities that I find interesting, and somewhat annoying. This thing that says “I don’t hate who I am, I don’t hate my body, but I don’t love it either”. It’s just “Meh”. And in a way its a safe space to be in because it doesn’t require much self-reflection. In this space there’s no need for you to analyse the standard of beauty we’ve been brainwashed to aspire to and realize you will never reach that standard. Most importantly, there is no need for you to create your personal definition of beauty. And that is the scary part.
Lets be even more honest. By the world’s definition and standard of beauty, most of us are ugly. Yeah I said it, you are ugly and so am I. But what does that mean? Is it important? Nope. All it means is that you do not reach a standard that was created without your permission. A man-made standard that was created out of thin air. If you’re a Black woman like I am, it’s a standard that was created deliberately to exclude you.
I understand how comfortable one can get living in that “meh” space. Because the journey to self-love hurts. Its ironic. It will strip you of all your defense mechanisms; the way you hide your smile because your teeth are crooked, the way you stand at an angle that hides your chubby tummy, or the way you only take selfies from the left side because your skin has less acne scars on that side. I get it. Stepping into a space of self-love can be terrifying and no one will tell you that. There a lot of body positive movements out there, but a lot of them are really just reinforcing a different standard of beauty that is still exclusionary. These movements say its okay to be plus size, as long as you look a certain kind of fat. They say its okay to rock natural hair as long as your curls bounce a certain way. All they do is break one standard by creating another. They are gate-keepers of beauty and we’ve been in one queue after the other all our lives trying to get in.
Living in between self-loathing and self-love is safe, but living in self love is the biggest personal revolution one can have. It’s your own personal rebellion. You’re a one person army for your own peace of mind, for your own happiness. The best thing about self-love is you are literally the only person that matters. Yes it will hurt, yes it will force you to confront your flaws. But you will also realise in the process that they are only flaws because of a standard that you’ve been taught to aspire to. Stripping yourself of the standards that have been created for you is liberating, the end result is exhilarating. You deserve more than simply tolerating your existence.
I ask you again, just how much do you love yourself?
Own your body, define beauty for yourself. Your body is yours and yours alone.