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Self-love. It's become a trending topic. We've seen the inspiring Buzzfeed videos and #bodypositivity posts. It's easy to retweet and reshare without batting an eye. But it's also easy to forget what it all actually means.

The self-love movement on social media has encouraged visibility and inclusion. It's shown a one-size-does-not-fit-all reality. It's brought light to issues within marginalized communities. It's emphasized self-care as something that's not selfish, but rather essential to our well-being. It's promoted healthy relationships with ourselves as key to having healthy relationships with others. 

While these messages are all beneficial, social media's depiction of self-love can also detach us from the implications of it. Often times, self-love is represented as something that comes naturally- as something that's easy. It's trivialized as sunshine and rainbows, reduced to a pretty picture and a hashtag. By doing so, it negates the realities of it. 

The truth is, self-love is a journey. As much as we'd like it to be an easy quick-fix, it's not. We can be aware of the importance of body positivity and self-confidence without actually believing in our self-worth, without cultivating our power.

It's not to say that the self-love trend on social media isn't helpful; it is. What's important to remember though, is that self-love itself is not a one-size-fits-all reality. For some, it comes naturally. For others, it's a constant struggle. We can have good days and bad days. Like a wise person once said, "everybody has those days, everybody knows what, what I'm talkin' 'bout, everybody gets that way..." 

Image via Giphy

In all seriousness, self-love is complicated. It's not something that comes naturally to everyone. It can often take years (or a lifetime) to develop. But it's possible. The first step is recognizing that it's not a quick fix; it's a process. 

We all have insecurities; self-love doesn't mean we can automatically change our opinions of ourselves. As human beings, it's natural to give into those fears and concerns. The key is being aware. It's about facing the voice that tells us we can't, that we're too little or too much. 

Self-love isn't about ignoring that voice. Rather, it's about choosing to lower the volume until that voice is completely silenced. The power of self-love is its ability to remind us of our own agency. We are stronger than the voice that tells us we can't. We hold the power. 

So when you're scrolling through your feed and liking #self-love posts, just remember to be aware. Feel the weight of those words. Don't let the fact that it's become a trending topic trivialize its significance. It's more than just a hashtag, a trending topic, a pretty Pinterest picture. It's the fearless act of accepting yourself for who you are. Make it mean something. 

Catalina Fernandez is a senior at UC Santa Barbara, double majoring in Communication and Film/ Media Studies and minoring in Professional Multimedia Writing. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and raised in Orange County, California, her creative work focuses on personal identity, feminism, and minority representation. As a Campus Correspondent, she is working to expand on her voice as a content creator and leader for a career in entertainment media. See what Catalina is up to on Instagram @catalina_fernandez!
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