Hating yourself is perfectly acceptable in this world. In fact, some would argue that it’s preferable. It sounds harsh, and downright icy, but the proof is all around us. And yet, despite this, standing against the pressure, and loving yourself, is still worth the scars, hate, and judgments that you’ll be subjected to.
It’s hard to recognize the encouragement to hate ourselves, because we are born, we live, and we die in this toxic bubble. We are constantly fed ideas of what it means to be a boy, a girl, a kid, a teenager, an adult, popular, strong — the list goes on. Every part of us — from our brains, to our hearts, to our bodies — have society-constructed blueprints for perfection that we are challenged to match. And when we don’t meet these standards we blame ourselves.
We spend time attacking ourselves, when we should really be attacking the bullshit that is being fed to us every single day. For example, high school/young adult dramas like Glee, Teen Wolf, and The Vampire Diaries (read: most TV shows) have the majority of their characters falling into deep romances, often switching romantic partners more frequently than a baby’s diaper. When teens and young people don’t find someone to be with they think there is something wrong with them. Same goes for adults. Action, drama, horror, comedy, musical, and nearly every type of fictional genre now contains elements of romance or intimacy. We feel inadequate when we’re alone because the characters, and the heroes who we look up to and admire, are almost always in some type of romantic entanglement.
The distortion of reality can be even worse when it comes to our bodies. We’re taught that we constantly need to improve ourselves. If you have kinky hair, you need to straighten it. If you have straight hair, you need to curl it. If you’re skinny, you need to gain weight. If you’re curvy, you need to lose weight. If you’re not muscular, you need to work out. If you’re really muscular, you need to stop working out. We lack balance in the representations that we see, and it causes us to strive for goals that we can rarely reach and — when and if we do — it usually comes at great physical, mental, emotional, and financial cost.
When people choose to do what they want, and live for themselves, society has an onslaught of words to use against them. Conceited. Snobby. Selfish. Boujie. These are just a few, and they all carry with them a connotation of abnormality and defectiveness. It’s easier to just go along with the norm, buy what people want you to buy, look how people want you to look, and behave according to the rules of others. But my philosophy is, and remains: “We all have one life to live, so who are you gonna live it for?”
Not everyone is out to get you. In fact, I believe that many people want to love themselves, but they just don’t know how. We don’t teach people how to be happy with their own ideas of beauty, character, and strength. We all feel like we need validation — which we might not get when we choose to wear what we want, and do what we want. It’s a hard road to travel, but one that gets smoother the longer you keep on keeping on.
Loving yourself — and I mean truly loving yourself — is not easy. It’s not a state of being. It’s a choice that you have to make every single day. It doesn’t get easier, and the temptation to give in and hate yourself will always be there. But there’s nothing else quite like the satisfaction of rocking an outfit that you like. Or holding your head up high because you are proud of your accomplishments.
Remember: the self-doubt and hate are not yours alone. It’s hard to love yourself in this world. If you don’t love yourself now, it doesn’t mean that you never will. Do yourself the liberating favor of taking the first step and defining the person that you want to be — then put society on mute and do your thing.