Self Love in the Time of Patriarchy

Self-love is radical. Self-love is revolutionary.


Ours is a society that has historically and structurally ensured that the capitalist heteropatriarchy flourishes while marginalizing and oppressing those that cannot fit within those categories (of straight, wealthy, white male). It is one that has consistently profited off of systemic racism, classism, and sexism. In order to ensure the survival of the dominant group, they must ensure that those below stay below.

One of the easiest ways to stay dominant is to break down the oppressed groups and create the internalized versions of societal oppression- internalized misogyny, homophobia, racism, etc. This ensures that the dominant group remains the most powerful while controlling the behavior of those below to be what the dominant group desires. If there are strong, confident groups of marginalized people, they will rise against the oppressor. They will fight the systems of oppression that have made them “below” for centuries. This is the ultimate horror to those who control our economy, our legislature, our foreign actions, our internal policies, and our priorities as a country.


One of the most blatant examples of this internalized oppression and profit is in the women’s cosmetic industry- one in which mainly men are profiting. There are products and advertisements to “fix” every potential “flaw” for women. Aging for women is seen as something that must be stopped. One must cover up every possible blemish to be perfect. One must have the correct body. And if you don’t fall into this “perfect” female body, then you must correct it. White men have been setting unrealistic beauty standards for women for years (which has had dire effects for women of color and racism, as white has been decided as the standard and only then can one be beautiful- meaning that in order to gain power, one must somehow become “whiter”) and it has been proven that when women see themselves as only being able to obtain power from their beauty, it has dangerous consequences. They are less likely to see themselves as worthy, less likely to run for leadership positions, more likely to have violence against them, all of which allows for men to retain power and create a political and social climate in which their word is absolute and women cannot win.  The average woman spends thousands of dollars over her lifetime on cosmetics. Men profit from this, both economically and politically. When women can only gain power from being beautiful, they are less inclined to run for positions of power, leaving the political structure at the status-quo and remaining underrepresented.

So, when you reject this idea of idealized beauty and perfection, and decide to love yourself regardless, it is radical. It is rejecting the oppression from our culture and deciding that the white men cannot dictate your life. It is embracing your own power and boldness. It is an act of resistance that is perhaps one of the hardest and least-recognized. To know you are worthy in a society that continually tells you that you are not is work. It is the first step in the revolution. It is the lit match.


Self-love is radical. Remember that on the darkest days, that this love is revolutionary, that despite all else, this is rebelling, this is refusing to be silenced. This is the power we must take for ourselves. This is how we begin to fight back.