Teenagers and young adults today live in a culture where self-love is constantly preached, almost to the point where it’s suffocating. Messages of “love yourself!” and of body positivity are plastered on social media. You can’t scroll through any app without seeing a post about practicing self-care or reasons to love your body. It seems like everyone has so much love for themselves that if you don’t, the idea of self-love can be intimidating.
What no one tells you about self-love is that it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years. Years of shaming yourself, years of trying to lose weight, and years on the road to accepting the way your body is, and finally that acceptance fades into love. A love for yourself, your body, and all the things you’re capable of.
Another thing no one mentions is that self-love and self-care look different for everyone and there is no right way to love yourself.
For those few who maybe don’t struggle with the way they look or maybe haven’t in a long time, self-love may come easily. It may not be something that they have to remind themselves daily. It might be a habit.
For others, self-love can be looking at yourself in the mirror and genuinely smile at your reflection. Despite whatever imperfections you may see.
Self-love can be indulging yourself and eating a giant piece of chocolate cake with no shame because you deserve it.
Self-love may look the opposite, like someone choosing fruit over dessert because that’s what makes them happy.
Self-love for you could be going to the gym because you enjoy the way it makes you feel.
Self-love can look like a mother telling her daughter that they look good in whatever outfit they’re wearing.
Self-love can be putting on a shirt that you love but think you look terrible in and wearing it anyway.
Self-love might be stepping on a scale and accepting whatever number flashes on the screen.
It can be taking the day off because you deserve a day to relax, it could be throwing yourself into your work because you love what you do.
I’m willing to bet that everyone has experienced a period in their lives where you look into the mirror and absolutely loathe everything you see. I want you to know that it’s not a bad thing. You should never be ashamed of not loving the way you look. Most of us are born and raised to be fixers, to see something and immediately find what’s wrong with it and want to change it for the better. We do it with politics, social issues, decorations, etc. So it’s only natural that we’d do the same to our physical appearance.
I do know is that it looks different for everyone. Just because you don’t practice self-love the way someone else does, doesn’t mean you aren’t doing it the right way for you. If someone is a weight you deem unhealthy, but they love their body anyway, let them be. Let them love who they are. If someone doesn’t seem to like who they are, support them and let them accept themselves on their own time.
I learned that you can love your body while also acknowledging that there’s always room for improvement. Would I be happy if I lost weight? Yes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love my body the way it is without losing weight.
Self-love is so much more than the way you see your body. It’s your outlook on life, and no two people see the world the same way, just like no two people love themselves the same way.
There is no set timeline for learning to be okay with whom you are and the way you look.
Self-love may not yet exist for you yet, and that’s okay. No one should feel pressured to love who they are completely. Self-love can take time, and if someone doesn’t like what they see in the mirror yet, that’s their business. Everyone loves differently in all aspects of life, and this concept applies to self-love just as much as it does to a love between two people.