Self(ie) Love

Truth - Sometimes the hardest person to love can be yourself. Some people fall in and out of love each day with other people. Some people find love and never let it go. Some people let love consume them in the best ways possible. Why then is it difficult for us to love the people we see in the mirror? Why do we struggle to embrace ourselves, our bodies, spirits, and souls? What prevents us from giving ourselves the same kind of love we demonstrate towards others? Isn't it funny how we can show love towards others but are unable to do so for ourselves? This is self(ie) love.
 
"The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” 
Steve Maroboli


Recently I was a browsing through a Buzzfeed Listicle  - Words for Emotions You Never Thought Anyone Else Ever Felt and my inner adoration for words and typography shown through as I was struck by each one. One in particular, altschmerz, stood out to me. It's a noun that means "weariness with the same old issues that you've always had - the same boring flaws and anxieties you've been gnawing on for years." It stayed with me and it made me think about the things I had always struggled with. Namely, it has been not only embracing the physicality of who I am, but the spirituality that coincides with it. I have always been self conscious of not only my skin color, but it's tone. Everything though about the way I look has been a journey of self-acceptance. My kinky curly jet-black hair, the medium brown lines etched into the palms of my hands, or the deep dark brown of my eyes. All of it was just too much. Lips too thick, teeth too big, feet too wide, eyes too dark, and every curve, corner, point too abrupt. I felt like a juxtaposition of exaggerated parts that were never supposed to make up anything cohesive or anyone worth pining after, let alone loving. As time has gone on though, I have found myself more and more not just accepting but celebrating how I have turned out.

To say I was a late bloomer would be a understatement. I just never felt like I had developed like everyone else.  It wasn't until my junior year of college really where I saw myself and liked the person smiling back at me. My features had become more defined, and I carried myself differently. I began to take control of not just other's perceptions of me but more importantly those of myself. I liked the way I looked. I wouldn't want to be like anyone else. I think other people took note as well because I became more and more confident. I found my style, my iconic look, and figured out how to help those not just align with my body but my personality and I was on the inside. There is truly something to be said about loving the skin you're in but clothes matter as well. When you know you look good, you feel good to. Clothes are like the armor that projects what natural beauty you keep underneath. Now I smile bigger, laugh harder, and let it all fit tighter. I leave my residence boldly feeling like I not only know who I am and how I portray myself, but sincerely like that person as well. Self(ie) love is a powerful thing.
Let's go deeper because there's some hard stuff underlying all this positive self-esteem. With this newfound appreciation for who I am and how I look have come call outs of being conceited, narcissistic or self-obsessed. I don't pay any of it any attention. Let me tell you something. I have earned the right to love me. I don't need approval from anyone else to do so. I refuse to pretend to be oblivious to what the entirety of me has to offer. I look damn good. I'm cute as hell. I'm hot as ... well you know the rest. I would be lying if I said that race/racism, ethnicity, and ethnocentrism didn't play a role in my understanding of my own  self. It's hard to understand what you should ideally look like when there's no one who looks like you in the media. There are too few people who look like me who are seen as attractive, desirable, and worthy of longing, lust, love - what have you. There is not a standard to be compared to. People of color are viewed as exotic alternatives, non-mainstream, or tossed by the wayside. We're non-traditional, outside of the norm, or unique. When I started liking the man in the mirror, I rejected all the lies that the world had told me about blackness, black skin, and black people.

We are so beautiful. I mean breathtakingly gorgeous, magnificently made, and abundantly amazing. We radiate truly with a luminescence unlike anyone else. Our textures, tones, and touches all remain unique. We come in so many different shapes, sizes, and colors. We range across the spectrum each embodying our own individual beauty that cannot be denied. Whether we conform to the Eurocentric whitewashed standards of beauty or not, we are works of art in human form. I refuse to believe the narrative that only white people can be beautiful, handsome, or sexy. I reject the notion that people of color do not belong on magazine covers, in starring roles, or on bedroom walls. I negate the media bombardment that tells people of color that they are ugly, inferior, and unlovable. It is not true. It is not right. It is a lie that can no longer be told. Each and every person deserves to be able to love themselves. Why should we ever deprive someone of that inner peace and comfort? I will never call someone ugly. That is not a reflection of them but rather me, my insecurities, and self-loathing. Self(ie) love isn't reserved for a few but for all.

 
Society absolutely abhors when people of color start feeling themselves (and by society I mean whiteness). Take for example Kanye West. People think the man is out of his mind, but really his tactics are nothing more than self-preservation. If no one is going to tell you you're beautiful, you matter, you're the best, you're a human being, then you have to do it yourself. Beyoncé and all of her flawlessness, that is the realest. While others are busy pointing out flaws, she is turning them in to strengths that help her shine above all the rest. More than anyone else, society loves to tear apart people of color, especially women of color. Why do you get to have an opinion on who someone is? Your entitlement does not extend to our bodies, our minds, or our hearts. Keep that crap to yourself.

And the black girl magic and carefree black girls that don't give a damn what anyone has to say about them are the best examples of loving yourself like no one else is watching. Zendaya, Amandla Stenberg, Rihanna, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Taraji P. Henson, and all the rest who look good and know it are combatting a racist society that wants to ignore their beauty. It's not just for self-esteem, it's self-preservation because everywhere outside you receive messages that you're not enough - smart enough, talented enough, attractive enough. I saw enough is enough. I am enough and I am the only one who gets to have a say in that.
 
How to Get Away with Loving Yourself:
  • Mirror talk - look at yourself in the mirror and smile; tell yourself someone you like about yourself both physical and characteristically, each and every morning
  • Do things you enjoy just because - whatever you love and makes you happy, do more of it; you deserve to be happy and nothing/no one should get in the way of that.
  • Take some damn good selfies - the best selfies are the ones where you can capture the natural beauty you already have; smile big, get silly all you want, and share away
  • Accentuate the parts you love and keep working on the parts you don't - find things that make you feel good; be bold in your choices and let your personality shine through
This time I'll finish with a reminder that you don't owe any of your love except you. You cannot expect to love anyone else until you start with yourself. Have a downright dirty, absolutely filthy, and purely scandalous love affair with yourself. You deserve it. If you love you, someone else will as well. X

*P.S. I'll be talking about race/racism in dating/sex soon, so don't worry - it's coming.

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