The Importance of Self-Love: Why Vanity Is Good

When I was a kid, my mom would tell me how pretty I was. She talked about how nice my hair was, how lovely my eyes were, how, when I was older, all of the girls would go crazy for me. Even then, there was a part of me that was uncomfortable with her words, though at the time, I couldn’t have explained why. I just never knew what to say in response. Nothing felt right. Like, if I said “thank you,” it felt like I was agreeing and accepting her words as true, when I didn’t believe they were.

I looked at my eyes in the mirror, and all I saw were red veins from sleep deprivation and irises the colour and texture of moth wings. I kept my hair short and started to wear baggy clothes that I could just disappear into, because I didn’t want anyone to notice me. I was certain that if they did, they would just see how truly unremarkable I was, how mediocre both the parts and the whole of my being were.

Of course, now I have a better understanding of what I was always dealing with: all of those body issues were magnified by gender dysphoria, depression, and anxiety. They created a feedback loop, an Ouroboros of self-hate. It took a long time to unlearn that. I still have bad days sometimes, where I am especially insecure and loathe the very sight of myself. Sometimes I can’t even recognize my face as my own in pictures.

 

 

But those days are becoming more rare. I have started making changes necessary for me to be happy in this fragile frame of bones and blood and meat. If someone does compliment me, then I make myself say “thank you,” because my younger self was right about something. By accepting those words as true, I can start to dismantle that feedback loop. And it’s important for me to do that, because it didn’t just hurt me when I gave into those thoughts: it hurt the people who loved me, too. It made my mom cry. By making healthy changes to myself, I am allowing the people I love to be happier, too, and I desperately want that.

That resolve is the reason why today, I can look at my own naked body in the mirror and smile. I can love the curve of my hips, the way the morning sun illuminates my silhouette, the way my hair curls and bounces, and the way my eyes sparkle. I can call myself pretty and believe it, too. Maybe that makes me a vain person. But I would rather be vain and love myself than be humble and want to slip into a crack in space and time to disappear forever. Too often I have seen accusations of vanity weaponized against people, against women, against anyone who posts a selfie to Instagram because they feel cute. If not vanity, then negative people will focus on whatever perceived flaw they can find in a person to tear them down just a little bit.

Those people are wrong. You are allowed to love yourself, to have a favourite part of your body, to make changes to it that you are proud of, and to show it off. And I will fight anyone who says otherwise.

When I started allowing myself to like my body, it made me happy. It made my friends happy. It made my mom happy. And if someone is going to get upset with me over it or try to tear me down, then I do not need them in my life. Neither do you. So please, don’t make the same mistake that I once did. I deserved so much better, and so do you.