Let’s talk about your love for yourself.
I posted a selfie for my Instagram story some weeks ago and a friend asked me what was the happy occasion to do this.
“Because I wanted to.”
But is that a good enough answer?
I had decided that posting selfies is my way of practising self-love just so that I can remember the days I felt cute. And it wasn’t like I was fishing for compliments. It was just me telling myself that these selfies are okay, and that takes a lot considering it takes fifty pre-postable pictures and fighting my social anxiety to take a picture in a public space. (Also, take a picture of something out of the window and it’s aesthetic but selfies, nuh-uh, that’s conceited af.)
So yeah, the point is self-love and this unfortunate, well fed, well-accepted notion of it being equivalent to vanity. Because let me tell you, it couldn’t be more different than people think. If you’d like a first-hand experience, please try taking a selfie in public and check out the people that pass you by. I’ll promise, sadly, minimum two disdainful looks. The ‘millennials-on-their-phones-know-nothing-but-taking-selfies” looks.
But what people do not understand that this is an undoing as much as it is becoming.
When I was younger, I decided that TV actresses are the epitome of beauty, and do you know what separated me from them? My skin tone.
These women with fair skin with five hundred lights coming at them from the right direction, a professional make up look on their faces. And I sat in front of the screen saying this is what I want to look like when I grow up. What?! How can I look like anything other than myself when I grow up?
And you know what feeds this idea of wanting to not look like yourself, the people who reinforce this idea that your insecurities are correct and therefore you must change to become “pretty”.
Then follows the face creams, face packs, uninformed makeup purchases. Funnily, I was too lazy to go through this phase. The most I could do was wash my face twice, I couldn’t be bothered to do more. But I can’t deny that I wanted to douse my face in concealer. Because acne, that ain’t getting you either success or boys (scandalous, huh?)
The result of this is learning like it’s the only thing worth learning, is that what you are, what you look like is not enough. And this goes on until one day, hopefully, you decide, why am I letting this disrespectful idea control me? This is what a bunch of irrelevant, or misinformed, unaware people have told me and I do not need to listen to them! And then begins the undoing.
Now you have to take a U-turn on the same path you took your whole adolescence or young adult life. Here you have to start teaching yourself to come back to yourself as you are. You have to go through this rigorous, exhausting process of unlearning the self-hate, the lack of confidence, the displeasure, of looking at yourself. And damn is it hard! It is a daily struggle at times.
But you have to keep going. For every negative thought, you have to replace it with two positive ones. You have to check yourself out in mirrors, and car windows, and smile. You have to find spaces where you are comfortable with yourself. If that’s your room, bathroom, phone camera, you find it and use it and you go from there.
Look, there’s a whole world beyond us that benefits from our insecurities.
And unfortunately, these insecurities start outward before they begin growing inside of you. The consequence? Self-depreciation. I mean we are a generation who calls ourselves trash. But if you gotta start here, you start here:
After which you go: I ain’t trash. I’m the shit. (God bless Irony and Tumblr slang)
But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
And there begins the becoming, or the relearning, the restarting. This is when, finally, you’re tired of what adjectives the world attaches to you and deciding it has no power to do that. I’m not saying it’s easy, and it definitely doesn’t happen overnight. But if you let it, it will happen. It’s hard work. Because fighting, especially fighting against what you’re conditioned to your whole life is exhausting. But hey, if you are fighting, you might as well fight to win, yeah?
I am nineteen, and it took me until this year to decide that my selfies can be a four on a scale of one to ten to strangers, to me it will be an eleven. And no one can take that from me. If I feel cute, then I am. And if you don’t agree, you’re wrong.
But this post focused only on external appearances, and I understand that there’s more to self-love than that. But as I said, U-turn, so if the negativity starts outside, why not start wiping it off from there itself?
So yes, by all means, if loving yourself is vain, go be vain af. Let people look, let people judge. You are yours before you are the world’s. You have to tell yourself that you are enough. And screw anyone who disagrees. Treat yourself right, train yourself to be secure. I am trying, and you should too!
I wish you nothing but ease and peace on this journey. I wish you achieve your security soon. I hope you learn to love yourself. I hope you love yourself every day, even on the difficult ones. Especially the difficult ones.
Part two will be up next week. Keep loving, y’all.