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For those who follow me on Instagram, you know how much I talk about loving yourself and accepting your imperfections. I know it’s effortless for me, a CIS, straight white woman, to preach about loving yourself when I’m still considered the ‘beauty standard’ (minus the blonde hair, haha!), and I recognize that.
However, we must also recognize that we all have things we are insecure about and things that we wish we could change. It’s normal to feel insecure about ourselves and our bodies, especially during a pandemic when we’re not going out as much. We’re in slouchy clothes more, not exercising as much, and we have a lot more time to let our brains overthink how we look. For some, maybe our bodies have changed.
I know mine has.
Over the last year, I have put on weight. Not a lot; I’ve gone up a dress size in trousers/skirts and sometimes in tops too. It’s definitely not a big deal considering what else is going on globally. Still, having been a pretty consistent size since I was 17 years old, it was definitely something new I had to figure out. I now have stretch marks all over my butt and upper thighs, which I think made the very slight weight gain look a lot more drastic.
When I first saw them, I didn’t know how to react. I felt a bit like a fraud, saying how we should all love our bodies online when I was googling how to reduce their visibility. It’s all well and good talking about loving your body until something on your body you don’t like.
And it took me a while to accept they were there. It wasn’t until I found myself on self-love Tik Tok where women of all shapes and sizes were showing their stretch marks I was able to look at mine and think, “you know what, these are normal.”
One of the videos I saw was captioned “learning to accept the body that supported me through a global pandemic.” Then something suddenly clicked in my head. And that was when I realized, oh my God, you’re right. We’re currently in a global pandemic, our lives have been turned upside down, and our bodies are going to change and adapt to what we need to support us.
But it was also then that I realized that self-love is so much more than just loving your body. That to put self-love down to just what your body looks like is actually really stupid. We are so much more than this skin suit that we were given. We’re human beings with interests, hobbies, thoughts, feelings, and so much more.
So I look at self-love a little differently now. For me, self-love is about so much more than just loving what my exterior looks like now, as that can change super quickly (as I’ve learned).
So when I think of self-love now, I think of taking care of my mental health. Our minds are complicated but also extremely important. Going forward, I want to stop putting so much pressure on myself and causing myself unnecessary stress. Take breaks when I feel like I need them. Have a weekend of doing nothing if I feel like I need to. Learn new things, read new books, explore things I’m passionate about. I’ve realized that I’m the happiest when I’m feeling passionate and learning new creative skills, so that’s precisely what I’m going to do more of going forward.
When I think of self-love now, I think of giving my body the right nutrients to work at its best. I didn’t eat the best in 2020; in fact, I actually ate awfully. So, so much bread, which I’ve now figured out, actually makes me a bit bloated. I’m eating more fruits and vegetables and healthier meals. But I’m not being too strict on myself and allowing myself to indulge every once in a while. I’m a sucker for sweet treats, so I’m making sure not to deprive myself too much!
When I think of self-love now, I think of dressing up in outfits I love. I don’t know, this one may make me seem a little bit shallow, but I really don’t care. I feel my best when I’m dressing in an outfit I love. I feel much better when I feel confident in what I’m wearing. I’m also much more productive when I like my outfit for some reason! Now that I feel like I’ve got an unmistakable style that I like dressing in, I actually feel excited to get dressed every day. It’s one of the only things that make the days feel different.
When I think of self-love now, I think of giving myself downtime to enjoy things. Whether that’s sitting down to watch a movie or TV show or curling up with a book, It’s so important to give yourself time to unwind. Movies and books are also a great chance to escape from everyday life, especially now that ‘everyday life’ can get super boring super fast.
When I think of self-love now, I think of my skincare routine. I really love doing my skincare in the morning and in the evening. I find it super calming, and looking after my skin is one thing that I take pride in. I love trying out new products and testing out new ways I can make my routine more sustainable.
So when I think of self-love now, I think of so many other things other than just my body. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong way to love yourself, and everyone will have different priorities. But for me, I want to love so much more than just my body. I want to love everything about me.