Here we are in the 4th wave of feminism and we are all about self-love.
What I/ we have to keep in mind when dealing with this topic, is that we as women are not just going to decide to love all the parts of ourselves that we disliked prior to reading the latest article about “loving your flaws”. Which, is probably a ridiculous article because the writer is still telling us, in a “nice” way, that you have flaws. It is also important to not just tell someone that they don't have “insert self-conscious topic here” because that isn't going to help, it is going to be a process.
For me, speaking only for myself and my relationship with my body, I feel best when I give myself a compliment. Sometimes I say it to myself when no one is near me, and other times I say it out loud. I don't always believe what I'm saying, and sure sometimes I'm saying it to get a laugh, but I know that I always feel better when I let myself know I approve. My body is working very hard to support me every day, so it’s important to let it know that its doing a good job! That makes sense to me, I mean, we expect praise when we do a good job, so why shouldn't we praise our bodies for literally supporting us all the time.
Giving myself compliments has always been a part of my personality, unfortunately though, for about two years I stopped telling myself that I looked good. I didn't let people know when I felt like I was having a good hair day or that I liked the way I looked in the jeans I was wearing. Even when no one was around, I didn't let myself know that I liked how I looked and felt about my body. I shut up about myself and those two years were the hardest I have struggled with my body and the mental relationship I had with it.
A close friend of mine used to always give me a hard time when I would throw myself a compliment out loud. She had brought up the debate that it made me sound conceited. My argument, was that I just wanted people to feel good about their physical appearance, and I was not trying to say I looked better than someone, merely that I liked my look that day. She eventually disclosed to me that my comments had in turn made her feel worse about her own self-conscious points and asked me not to speak that way in front of her any more. So, I stopped.
I replay that conversation constantly in my head, and I still think of different things I could have said rather than to sit and be quiet. I mean, I was raised to be confident in myself both inside and out! My dad is easily one of (if not THE) biggest heroes of my life. He used to joke with me saying:
“Addie, I can’t wait until tomorrow, you know why?”
“Because I get better looking every day!”
I mean that was bound to rub off on me and now looking at statistics and seeing how low self-esteem starts when girls are so young, I'm glad he did put that bit of narcissism in me. I can’t even imagine how different my life would be if my self-confidence was not built up the way it was. I was lucky. I’m not saying I never had a day where every single piece of clothing was the most hideous thing in the world! It happened often and it still happens, but I also had days where I felt good in my own skin. So why should I feel bad about that? Why was I supposed to shut up about feeling good, and liking how I looked?
So here I am, two years later and I have decided to start telling myself “I love you” again. I have realized that when I stopped telling myself that I was enough, I started to only care what others thought of me. I don't ever want to have to rely on someone else liking the way my legs look in a pair of leggings to feel like I can wear them out. I don't want anyone to feel like they need others to approve of their body to feel good.
So, here is my advice to girls and women out there struggling to love your body. Start by telling yourself that you look good. Build up that relationship. Tell yourself one good thing when you're having a bad day with your body. Be good to your body, it’s the only one you've got.