It’s another rainy, cold day where I’m at. Maybe that sets the ominous tone for what I’m about to write? lol I previously wrote about the Body Image Movement and how it is/is not really helping us, and the changes I think need to be made. Well, here is part 2! This one is more about the ‘Self-love’ aspect of the movement. I’ll go over it and dissect it a little, and then give my 2 cents about it, since this is my blog and that’s what it’s for, right? 😉 haha! Here we go
The whole self-love thing seems to have come about because of the Body Image Movement. People are advocating for this broad acceptance to take place in our society and it’s not surprise they’re pushing us to accept ourselves as well. This term, ‘self love’ has been used and abused, and it’s important that we understand which is actually happening when we decide to put it into action.
What is Self Love? The dictionary definition is this:
– regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic).
It’s just my opinion here, but come on… Self love is NOT blowing off responsibilities and it is not indulging to the point of inconveniencing important people in your life. You can’t call a behavior that jeopardizes healthy relationships and positions self love. If a child depends on you as their parent, then your first and most important priority is THEIR mental and physical health. I’m not saying jump on the pendulum and swing the opposite way and totally forget to take care of yourself (that kinda defeats the whole purpose of the self love thing), but I am saying that once you make that decision to be a parent your world is not about you. Once you decide to classify a friendship as such, then you have a responsibility to participate. You can’t use the ‘self love’ movement as an excuse for any behavior you want or to justify irresponsible actions. Having no respect or regard for others and their feelings or lives, living in your own ‘me’ bubble, those are narcissistic tendencies. We need to tread carefully and treat other with the respect we desire in return from them. We’re looking for a positive self love that not only uplifts you, but also supports your relationships with those around you.
(SIDE NOTE: Separating yourself or cutting ties with toxic people is essential to protecting yourself and loved ones at various times in your life. This is GOOD, and you should do this in a proper way. Codependency is a real thing and shouldn’t be ignored)
So what does all this have to do with the Body Image Movement? So glad you asked! The overall message of the BIM (that’s what we’re shortening it to for my sake now) is that we must be inclusive of, sensitive to, and must recognize the strength in the differences of every person and their body in all facets of our society (ie: advertising, fashion, fitness, health industry, etc). That’s my mini-shrunk down-in-a-nutshell mission statement. It’s a little wordy, but you hopefully get the jist of it. BIM is all about accepting people as they are, and promoting health and self love in a way that accepts and builds on their uniqueness. In order to care for others and to accept that the way they look is just a shell housing their true beauty, we have to be able to see ourselves that way first. An empty cup cannot fill up other empty cups. If you recognize no value in yourself, then how can you assign it to others? If you want to be body-positive, you have to accept yourself too. You can’t be pro-body image and criticize yourself relentlessly. Before you can help others love themselves, you have to practice loving yourself. Making sense?
Now, unfortunately, as much as we should pay attention to the inner beauty, BIM is largely about physical attributes, obviously. We’re trying to normalize previously outlawed shapes and physical characteristics. For the longest time we were accustomed to dangerously thin, unrealistic images of models who had been edited right out of their own bodies. Now that we’re seeing some diversity, there have been controversies over what healthy self love really is. Take this magazine cover from Cosmo for example:
Meet Tess Holliday! Excuse the language and skin showing, but she is Cosmo’s very first REAL plus sized feature. They did put Ashley Graham on there at one time, but let’s be honest, Tess is a lot more striking since she represents a group of women that are far less featured in any form of media. I love the sassy attitude she has, and it takes serious guts to wear lingerie (it’s a swimsuit, but looks like lingerie to me) on a cover of one of the most famous magazines, no matter who you are. As the article addresses, she has certainly had her fair share of haters. And while this is a big victory in many ways for the BIM, I’m concerned that we aren’t specifying that a healthy version of self love is what we really need.
There is a roaring controversy over Miss Holliday’s photo, and while I do see it as huge progress and as a bold, empowering move, I also understand where the concern comes from. We cannot go from one extreme to another and say that it’s ‘more acceptable’ to be obese than say, anorexic. Neither is okay, and I think that message just didn’t come through clearly with her cover. Her intent is not to promote or endorse obesity, but to bring inclusiveness to a large portion of the population that is obese and struggling with poor self-confidence. I do think it will change the perspectives of little girls to see women like this on magazine covers, but it’s important to emphasize the balance in diet and exercise is more important than going all or nothing with size and weight. We shouldn’t glorify be underweight, nor should we glorify being overweight.
This is my big beef with the self love fad to wrap it up: overindulgence is not self love.
I cannot say this enough. Drinking an entire bottle of wine to reward yourself for a hard day is not self love. Eating half a cake is not self love. Spending all of your free time in the gym is not self love. Spending ridiculous amounts of money on spa treatments is not self love. If we are going to teach young women to love themselves, then we have to teach them healthy, balanced habits and thought patterns that they can manage on their own without using a ‘thing’ to satisfy them.
I said this in Part 1 and I’ll say it again: A healthy self-image starts with the source of your worth. Where you get your value from is imperative to your ability to see yourself in a positive way, and to love yourself in a healthy way. If we look internally to find our worth, we will feel empty and confused, there isn’t anything we can offer ourselves. If we look to others we will be sorely disappointed by their humanity, and the impossible comparisons that lead us to defeat. We can only find our true worth and value in Christ, who tells us we are children of the Most High King. If we emulate Him and the way that Jesus loved others, then we can begin to love ourselves with a whole, full love that isn’t broken and doesn’t engage in extreme behaviors.
We have to teach our daughters, sisters, friends, and other women (and men too!) that self-love is a practice of habits and a mindset that we can sustain long term, in any situation despite what is or isn’t popular in the media. Love yourself like Jesus would, with life-giving words, reinforced with kindness and consideration for others. Surround yourself with people who will build you up when you can’t do it yourself, and understand that your body is a living thing; it is changing and growing and healing and restoring and shifting every single second of every single day.
I know we were honing in on the Body Image movement, which makes the conversation we’re having largely about the outward appearance, but we have to understand that the physical is the smaller, less important piece here. If you don’t recognize the beauty of the person you are inside…the beauty of your soul and the strength of your spirit…then you won’t see the true value of the body that houses it all. That inner dialogue with yourself is powerful, so guard your language at all times. What you say to yourself will decorate the inside of your mind. You can choose pretty, energizing decor, or you can put up ugly, depressing decor.
Maybe once in a while treat yourself to an extra hour of sleep in the morning, or have two chocolates instead of one, but remember that your worth doesn’t come from those things. I’ll leave you with a very accurate quote that I think fits well here:
Thanks friends, see you next time!
Don’t forget I’m new to this blog thing – if I rant or don’t have perfect diction/sentence structure, please give me grace, I’m rusty. 🙂
2 Timothy 3 – Gives a great little synopsis of what to avoid behavior-wise if you want to be whole and live a happy, God-fearing life!