Shocking concept, I know, but stick with me here.
Here’s the thing, I am all for women feeling empowered and loving their bodies. However, the issue with this boomin’ “self love movement” is that it seems to imply that we have control over this sort of thing. It’s not so black and white. A person’s insecurities flow and change, depending on millions of factors, most of them out of their control. If it was as simple as deciding to radically love yourself, I am sure that most of us would have made that decision by now.
“Life is very short. Insecurities are a waste of time.” This is an actual quote, written by Diane von Fürstenberg, an American Fashion designer. And while I am quite sure that good ol’ Diane meant no harm in this- because, yea, life is short and yeah, I’m sure we could find better things to do with our time than to spend it being hard on ourselves- to proclaim this in such a simplistic way can lead one to ponder why they can not, simply, shake these ingrained feelings of self-criticism and insecurity. Those of us who find it more difficult to join this movement, start asking ourselves “why can’t I just feel comfortable within my own body?” ” Why can’t I just stop wasting time on these insecurities?” Which, ironically, leads to more insecurities and feeling that there is something inherently wrong with us.
Another pattern within this movement seems to be the overwhelming amount of white, middle class, hetero, cis women who push this way of thinking. The idea that loving yourself is something you can just choose to do, without the realization that many people face more barriers than you, is just selfish and calls for a serious check of privilege. People of color, queer and trans people, poor people, disabled individuals and individuals with mental illness. These people face more oppression and external discrimination, making it even more difficult to “just learn” to radically-self-love.
This movement has many sweet intentions and I am all about being kind to yourself, but we must step back and look at the bigger picture. Let’s talk about racism, ableism, sexism, transphobia, socioeconomic inequality, oppression. Let’s understand that these attitudes and prejudices hold a large part of responsibility. Let’s work together to dismantle these factors before we promote the idea you must make the decision to love yourself.