It’s no doubt that over the last few years self-love and body love have boomed. The terms nowadays seem to be the topic of conversation. I’ve honestly lost count of the number of posts, tips, and tricks that I see on a daily basis claiming that “If I do x, y and z” it will cure the self-loathing that I lived with for so many years.
Even a whole bunch of brands are sporting self-love and body love. However, I can guarantee that if I sat down with the marketing teams or even the CEO of these companies and asked them, what it meant to self-love and love your body? They would probably shrug their shoulders and stare at me blankly.
How are we supposed to love our bodies, and ourselves if everyone who is promoting it has no concrete idea of what they actually mean?
Self – Love
Self-love is a term that is thrown around so often in conversation. Seriously, how many times has someone said to you -“but wait, “if you loved yourself that wouldn’t happen to you” or ” no one can love you if you don’t love yourself”.
How many times have you nodded and agreed, all the while wanting to gently fly kick them in the face? You’re like I get that – but what does loving myself even mean?
Do I need to do more of that double tapping on those inspirational quotes on Instagram?
Do I need to run myself a bath twice a week instead of once?
Do I need to get regular massages, manicures, and pedicures?
Do I need to stand in front of the mirror every day and repeat affirmation after affirmation?
The answer is no, no, no and no. I mean seriously, if self-love was as easy as running yourself a bath, don’t you think we would all be there already?
So, what is self – love?
First and foremost, self-love is not a destination; it’s a practice. A practice that requires you to consistently check in with firstly, how you treat yourself and secondly, how you allow others to treat you.
And I don’t mean treat in the sense of “nourish your body with whole foods”.
I mean treat in the sense of not self-sacrificing or suppressing your needs, beliefs, truths, values, feelings and emotions for the sake of other people. Yes, even if it makes others uncomfortable or it pisses them off.
What does that mean exactly? It means:
♥ Choosing you, choosing your needs, beliefs, and values and making them a priority and not sacrificing them for the sake of being liked, popular, or to be in a relationship.
♥ Expressing how you feel, your emotions and not suppressing them. It’s giving you space and your feelings and emotions space to just be, even if it’s really uncomfortable.
♥ It means calling people out (assertively but gently) when they treat you or speak to you, or about you, badly.
For example, if a friend, family member or in-laws said something about you that makes you feel bad or uncomfortable (and this can be direct to you or behind your back). It could be addressed with them in a way that goes like this:
“Hey, I heard you called me a bitch to Emily, that hurt my feelings. I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t speak like that about me. If I have done anything to upset you, I would like you to address it with me in the future so we can work together to get it resolved”.
If something nasty is said directly to you, it can be addressed in a similar way.
“Do you know how you said that my spiritual beliefs were bullshit, that really upset me. I’d appreciate it if, my spiritual beliefs weren’t discussed in that way”
Brene Brown once said “the wholehearted, the happiest of people, are the ones who have the firmest boundaries”
♥ It’s saying NO!
No to that social gathering that you just don’t have the energy for.
No to spending time with a toxic friend.
No to the guy who ghosted you after your date three weeks ago, but now all of a sudden wants to catch up.
Catch my drift, if it doesn’t work for you say no.
These might seem like very simple things to do, but they are hard.
Becoming sure of yourself, grounded in yourself, confident in yourself, developing and strengthening your self-love can be incredibly overwhelming and somewhat impossible to do on your own.
I say that not to scare you, but to help you (I speak no BS here). So, I encourage you to reach out for support, whether that be a coach, psychologist or counselor.
You’re challenging old beliefs and patterns of behavior and establishing new ways of being. And seriously, who doesn’t need a supportive space to do that?
Have you ever seen the commercial for a Nutri-bullet?
Smart marketing has managed to associate body love with a goddamn smoothie-making machine. The Nutri-bullet states that if you purchase one and drink a smoothie, it’s going to change the way you think and feel about your body.
Similar to self-love and running a bath, if body love was as easy as drinking a smoothie, wouldn’t we all be there already?
So, what is Body Love?
A while ago I searched extensively to find a concrete definition for body love, but I kept coming up short.
Everything found demonstrated what actions you “needed” to take, which would apparently lead you to love your body. All the actions center on changing your body, through weight loss or buying a cream that promises to diminish cellulite.
This just didn’t gel with me, simply because I’ve been there.
So, I conducted my own research and asked multiple women what body love looked like for them.
This is what I found.
We obsess and destroy our mental health in the pursuit of a “perfect” body, thinking that getting smaller, eating less and running a little further is going to solve all of our problems, all of our insecurities.
Initially, there is a fleeting moment of confidence and inner peace, but those moments and those feelings are only temporary.
As women, our success and our worth comes down to whether we are thin enough, what we have eaten, if we have exercised and whether we are pretty enough.
THAT’S A LIE!
We are so much more than our bodies and when we realize that, when we truly identify with that, that’s when we break free from body hatred.
Breaking free from body hatred is not about focusing solely on the body. Yes, we must adopt a more forgiving and affirming attitude towards our bodies, through addressing our critical thoughts and self-destructive behaviour. Then we must establish a healthier relationship with food and exercise.
Then, we must shift out focus and realize that our bodies are not responsible for our problems and insecurities. We must find and identify other ways and others things to base our self-worth on and our successes on.
And, we must find alternative ways to address, manage and ease our problems and insecurities, without destroying our bodies or thinking that our bodies are the problem.
Breaking free from body hatred and journeying through body love is similar to self-love in the sense that it isn’t a destination; it’s a process and a practice.
It’s a process that requires:
♥ Healing self-criticism, self-judgment, and self-deprecation.
♥ Establishing a healthier relationship with food and exercise.
♥ Recognizing and acknowledging your own inherent beauty but understanding that beauty is not everything
♥ Basing your self-worth, your confidence and success on something other than your body.
♥ Discovering and putting into practice alternative ways to address, manage and ease problems and insecurities, without holding the body responsible.
Body love requires healing destructive beliefs and behaviours surrounding our bodies. Then from there, it’s discovering and putting into practice healthier beliefs and behaviours and taking action consistent with those.
The process and practice of body love can be tricky to navigate on your own. It’s a process of growth, which requires a safe space and additional support. The support of a coach, counselor or psychologist who specializes in that field.
In addition, when we consistently water down body love and self-love to a bath or a Nutri-bullet, it makes both body love and self-love seem unattainable.
It’s not unattainable!
A bridge needs to be overcome to get to a place where you’re comfortable with yourself and your body, and low and behold, overcoming that bridge takes work.
So, I hope you have more clarity around what body love and self-love is and I want you to know that it is attainable.
Do you agree? Do you disagree?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, so make sure you comment below!