I get the feeling that as a woman, I’m not supposed to like myself.
As a female, I am bombarded with images on a daily basis that show me how I can be better/skinner/prettier/insert-feminine-adjective-here. Every time I turn on the TV, scroll through Facebook, or even while doing some
much needed internet shopping, I see countless images of products that are supposed to make me appear slimmer, younger, less wrinkly. (God forbid, I have crows feet at 32 years old).
Every spring, images are thrust into my face describing how I too can get my “bikini body” back after the winter months, or that so-and-so has the perfect plan for a “summer slim down”.
Every time I cruise around on the internet, my page clicks are chased by ads promising the newest weight loss supplement or workout class that will give me “long and lean” muscles, just the way I’m supposed to want my body to look. Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook are filled with images of sexed up women with rock hard abs, glistening with oil (I mean, really, oil up before your next workout and tell me how good your grip is), telling me that I just need to work harder, have no excuses, and I too will look like them.
But the thing is, I don’t want to look like them. I actually like myself, believe it or not. I don’t need a special diet plan, a miracle supplement, or even Photoshop to appreciate my body. I don’t need a “fitspo” image to tell me that I don’t work hard enough. I don’t need some marketing guru to tell me what I need to become their ideal of a perfect female.
I think I’m fortunate though, that I don’t need those things. A lot of women, when slapped across the face with these images, believe that they need these things to become the best version of themselves. Women aren’t supposed to like themselves, because if we all did, there would be a lot of people out there who stopped making money. The more you hate yourself and every part of your body, the more money these people make under the guise of helping you “improve”. Really, they’re just feeding on your negative feelings about yourself, and providing you with reasons to keep having these negative feelings.
For instance, just the other day I was scrolling through my Groupon email, I came across this image of an “Arm slimming compression garment”. Essentially, these are Spanx for your arms.
SPANX FOR YOUR ARMS.
I’m just going to let that sink in a little bit before I move on.
At first I laughed, because the picture is downright ridiculous. Then I let the thought settle into my brain, and realized it’s much more sad than it is funny. As women, we’re constantly provided ways that we can make ourselves “better”, although better to whom, is the question. Would it make me feel better about myself to wear compression sleeves to make my arms appear slimmer? First of all, I question their effectiveness, but more importantly, the answer is no. And I’m pretty sure the discomfort that I would feel from my brachial artery being compressed would far outweigh any “slimming” effect from the garment.
This is marketed to tell me that my arms aren’t good enough, that I shouldn’t like them, but that I could like them if only I bought something to make them appear slimmer. The whole concept is just ridiculous when you spell it out like that, doesn’t it?
Yes, I do wear make up and do my hair (occasionally), and generally try to look presentable when out in public. I’m not saying that all women should be unshaved, un-groomed and makeup free, but there is a line there. I do not wear a mask of makeup to make myself appear to be what society wants me to be, I wear a little bit of makeup because I think it plays up my eyes a little bit. And you know what? I like my eyes. And it’s okay to say that.
I am not saying that I’m anywhere near ideal or perfect, but since when in life are we all supposed to be striving for perfection? As women, I think we’re expected to constantly put ourselves down, to agree that we hate our thighs when one of our fellow femmes complains about hers. But you know what? I like my thighs too.
Imagine that — a woman who likes her thighs. Yes, I have cellulite, no I don’t have a thigh gap, but I still like my thighs. They are mine, and they are powerful, and I appreciate them. So ladies, it’s okay to like yourself, believe it or not. It’s okay to talk about yourself in a positive light, and it’s okay to not give in to the latest marketing scheme that’s trying to tell you that this is NOT okay.
And you know what? It’s also okay if you aren’t quite there today– it takes time to truly like yourself, especially if you’ve spent years doing just the opposite. As long as you are committed to treating your body with positivity and compassion, in time you will come around to appreciate all that your body does, even though it’s not perfect. In time, you too will come to like yourself. At some point, when another female who isn’t quite there yet will complain to you about X body part of hers. And you will smile warmly, and say “You know what? I actually like my “X”. It may not be perfect, but it’s mine”.
And maybe in that moment, you’ll inspire another woman to like herself too.
Because liking yourself is okay. It doesn’t mean that you’re self-centered or narcissistic and it doesn’t mean that you think you’re better than those around you.
Liking yourself simply means that you accept your body and your self for what you are. Even during those times that you’re working to improve or change yourself, you’re doing it out of love and acceptance for your body, rather than hate.
I’m not perfect — I am currently working at getting stronger and faster. But I like myself, and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean that I’m complacent, or lazy, or not working towards goals. It just means that the change that I’m working towards comes from a place of positivity.
I don’t work to better myself because I hate myself, I work to better myself because I like myself, and I know that I deserve to be the best version of me that I can be. And that is more than okay, that is the best of both worlds. Progress plus positivity? It’s a powerful combination.
Readers: Tell me something that you like about yourself in the comments — and get more comfortable telling others too. The more that women start to like ourselves, the less silly things like “compression arm sleeves” will be made and marketed at us!