Aug. 6, 2015, 7:59 p.m.
As someone who has struggled with body acceptance for a large portion of my life, self-love is a revolutionary concept. When you are told so often and so frequently that who you are and what you look like is: ugly, less than, or not good enough, then telling yourself that you ARE beautiful, that you ARE worth something, that you ARE good enough, is a rebellious act.
After developing and struggling with an eating disorder for years, actively fighting against societal expectations and learning to love myself was an uphill battle. It was terrifying, and it took a long time before I started to believe in my own potential. I spent many years looking in the mirror and hating my reflection. Eventually, I began to tell myself that I was beautiful, inside and out, over and over again until I meant it.
When you’re worried about how you look, you tend to hold yourself back, and be less confident. You spend most of your valuable time criticizing yourself and picking out your flaws, which can ultimately make you feel unhappier. By practicing self-acceptance, I was able to gain more confidence and feel happier. I was also stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying new things. However, it’s important to know that self-love is an ongoing journey and needs to be actively maintained. It’s something that will never end.
My fourth year of university was a roller coaster. I experienced fluctuations in my physical and mental health, my grades, and my self-confidence. One day, my school’s Women and Gender Equity Networkintroduced the “Mirror, Mirror” project, which aimed to celebrate positive body choices on campus. Students were encouraged to write statements related to body image, self-love, or societal beauty standards on the frame of a “mirror” and take a picture. After coming across many photos of friends surrounded by cool body positive sayings, I decided I wanted to take part.
The night before I was going to take my ‘Mirror Mirror’ photo, I took time to plan out the “perfect picture”. I thought about my outfit, the amount of makeup I would wear, and even my pose. I wanted the statement I would write on the frame to be meaningful and beautiful but I also wanted it to get a lot of likes on Facebook. But then I started to really reflect on the purpose of the project. Instead of a cliché inspirational quote, maybe I should be more honest? Maybe I should actually talk about MY body and my own personal struggle with self-love?
I thought about my journey (so far) with self-acceptance. How hard it had been and how hard it continued to be. Two of the main reasons I struggled so much within my body was because of my weight and the colour of my skin. I decided I would write something related to those insecurities. This picture would be posted on Facebook, which meant EVERYONE would see it. I would be drawing attention to features of myself that I was uncomfortable with. I started hyperventilating, and experienced a panic attack. I also relapsed. Hours later, I fell asleep, exhausted from crying.
When I woke up the next day, I reflected on what had happened the night before – there’s something about the morning that just makes everything clearer. I recognized how fragile my self-love really was which made me realize how important it was to take part in the “Mirror, Mirror” project. To take this one, honest picture. To be brave. So instead of the super cute, flattering outfit I had picked out the night before, I put on an outfit that I was once nervous about wearing, applied one of my favourite lipsticks, and took the picture. My hand was shaking as I wrote my honest message on the chalk board. My knees shook as I posed.
But I did it. I rebelled against myself, against societal expectations and my insecurities. I fought this battle, and I won. I was a part of a revolution.
For me, self-love encompasses a lot more than just physical characteristics. It involves being confident in all aspects of myself. This includes respecting and embracing my intellect and my personality. It’s valuing myself in every single way. It is a healthy, happy way of thinking. It’s freedom from the anger and self-doubt that society has placed on you and your perceptions of yourself.
So, forget what others tell you! Self-love is brave. Self-love is important. Self-love is revolutionary and I invite all of you to join the revolution!
Ameema Saeed is a recent graduate from McMaster University, with a degree in Life Sciences and Psychology. She is a self-proclaimed bookworm, cinephile, and lover of great music and good food. She loves writing, and has used it as a tool for self-expression since high school. She is a proud feminist, and mental health and self-love advocate. A few years ago, she started blogging, and she enjoys using her voice to talk about the things she is passionate about. Having struggled with an eating disorder, and her body image for years, Ameema is a firm believer in self-love as a revolutionary act, and encourages everyone to join the revolution. Ameema loves having conversations and dialogues, and can be reached through her blog, her Twitter, or her Instagram.
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