Let’s Talk About Self-Care

For anyone who hasn’t read Lizzo’s opinion piece written for NBC, you need to. To break it down, she basically explains that there is more to self-care than mimosas and spa days. Yes, mimosas and spa days are great, but they’re only temporary fixes. Self-care is a tool of preservation, a necessary step to becoming the happy and healthy human you were meant to be.

I know it sounds silly that I hadn't thought about it before, but Lizzo made something abundantly clear to me: the first step towards a happy and healthy life is as simple as making the choice to stop hating yourself.

Stop hating yourself. A phenomenal idea that swims in simplicity - but yet, is life changing. Self-hatred underlies so many of the decisions we, or at least I, make. When I started on a “health journey” or attempted another fad diet, I did it because I hated the cellulite that felt so blaringly visible along my thighs. When I laughed at things that were offensive or mean, I did it because I hated the way my values misaligned with the people who I thought were cool or popular. The hatred for myself, my body, and my perceptions had been the driving force behind my decisions for far too long.

Unsurprisingly, as plenty of research shows, social media plays an immense role in the way we’ve come to see both ourselves and our experiences. People, at least some of the people I’ve run into, are eager to compete with one another. And don’t get me wrong, competition can be a source of motivation towards self-improvement, but we’ve reached a point where competition has embedded us with clinical self-hatred that is often manifested in eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. Throughout these struggles, the neverending competition persists. Is it really winning if you post on social media to continue the facade of the happy life you're living when you're really in the midst of a 5-day depressive episode where you can’t move?

It’s a lose-lose situation, no matter how you spin it, and the solution isn’t necessarily winning. The solution is, as Lizzo emphasizes, making a choice. Every morning, as you get ready for class or prepare for an exam, you must make the conscious choice of practicing self-acceptance. Accept the things you cannot change, and while you’re at it, you might notice yourself beginning to love them too.

The journey of self-acceptance, which inevitably leads to loving yourself more, is different for everyone. For me, it was removing Instagram to remind myself I can be the best version of myself without using the platform to Insta-stalk everyone whose bikini bods threaten me. For some people, it may take a bit more than that, and if you’re in a place where you’re fortunate enough to have access to talk therapy, I would suggest making the most of this useful tool.

I know, I know, therapy sounds scary. When you tell someone you’re seeing a therapist, it’s easy to feel as if you are being judged and subjected to society's stigmatization of mental health. While we constantly praise the women who've made it through hardships, it is harder to come across the same commendations for the bravery it takes to be vulnerable. Lizzo says, “owning up to your vulnerabilities is a strength” and she couldn’t be more right.

Self-care, while different for everyone, manifests on a deeper level than what we’ve been conditioned to think. We’re all victims of the companies that profit off pushing face masks, pedicures, low-cal wines, or whatever else, and the reception we’ve experienced has blurred our ideas about what it actually means to care about ourselves.

We deserve more than a temporary fix. We deserve to feel beautiful, to feel intelligent, to feel strong and capable - at all moments in our lives. We deserve honesty, respect, and passion. We deserve to take a step back from the brainwashing commercialization of self-care quick-fixes and figure out what we really need.

What we need is time; time to heal from a lifetime of loathing that surely started with a moment you are probably able to pinpoint (I know I can). We need support, someone to uplift us, someone who looks at us with love, and we need this in ourselves. Starting on the pathway to really and truly caring about ourselves, we must aim to protect ourselves; to protect the delicate aspects that define both our self- and womanhood.

Maybe this time for you is a spa day, and if that’s the case, take it. For many others, however, this is a continuous pursuit of something more. It’s confrontational, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s eventually healing. One day, as I strive to be able to do, you’ll look in the mirror and know you can do whatever obstacle confronts your path. One day, as you learn to accept yourself, you’ll be proud of the legs that carry you far. One day, as you truly begin to care about yourself and your self-preservation, you’ll find immense strength and glory in the independence that your acceptance brings you.