5 Ways to Practice Self-Love
by Emily Harris
The practice of self-love encompasses mind, body and soul, and is talked about the wellness world now more than ever. But where does body acceptance begin, and how do we make this practice part of our daily lives?
There are articles, YouTube videos, and even entire Instagram accounts dedicated to the practice of self-love. But what really is this seemingly obvious practice, and what are the different ways in which it is achieved, both personally and politically?
The term ‘self-love’ pretty much means taking care of yourself, both in mind and body. The Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation defines self-love as: “having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness, taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others”. We could all do with a little bit more of that.
We’re exposed to hoards of content and information each day, so self-acceptance can sometimes be a difficult pedestal to reach when comparison feels like the only option, and inner peace pretty far away. The Mental Health Foundation shared that “just over one in five adults (22%) and 40% of teenagers said images on social media caused them to worry about their body image.” That’s quite a staggering percentage and, while this statistic includes teenagers, it doesn’t include children who are exposed to these same images across social media each day from an increasingly younger age.
What is Body Positivity?
One of the movements within the self-love and confidence world is ‘body-positivity’. This began in the USA in the 1960s with the aim to vocalise the restrictions that some people faced in society, through lack of representation in the media and discrimation in daily life. It’s where “all people deserve to have a positive body image, regardless of how society and popular culture view ideal shape, size, and appearance.” The central phrase here being ‘all people’ which has been debated in recent years by many of its advocates. Like influencer Bethany Rutter who writes, “it's frankly offensive to pretend that thin bodies are treated as badly as fat ones, or white bodies treated as badly as black bodies, and yet that's where body positivity leaves us: erasing the genuine, tangible, meaningful difference between bodies.”
So, this difference between bodies is what’s important, as it allows us to remember that while we can all practice self-love and body positivity, this does prove more difficult for some groups of society than others, because of the very movement that began this to start with. While the body positivity movement is an entryway into self love and self acceptance, it’s also important to remember that this movement is not inclusive of all people as it once wanted to be. So... where does that leave us?
The Fat Acceptance Movement
The fat acceptance movement is the body positive movement's predecessor, in that this was one of the reasons for its conception back in the 1960s. While largely debated, it came about because fat bodies face a certain type of discrimination that just cannot be encompassed by the body positive movement. The fat acceptance movement created a space where you can be unapologetically fat. You can be whoever you are and be content, at peace and accepting of yourself, maybe even finding some love in there too.
While the term ‘body positive’ is more well-known and now, I would venture to say, widely accepted – it still has its own self-imposed limitations in terms of body shape, size and colour, that the fat acceptance movement aims to not have. Amee Severson writes that “if body positivity is going to do what it was always supposed to do, it needs to include fat acceptance. It needs to include those in marginalized bodies and bodies that are not culturally accepted now.” The landscape is changing, and we are so here for it.
My Tips to Help You Practice Self-Love
- Always remember, that how we treat ourselves impacts how we treat others. If we don’t love ourselves first and foremost, how can we have enough love left for others?
- Rather than focusing on what we dislike about ourselves, why not try focusing on what you already love (or like, even just a little bit) and nurture that? You’ll find that by planting a little seed of love and forgiveness towards yourself, the rest will follow.
- Remember that your value doesn’t lie solely in your appearance.
- Write down at least one thing you’re grateful for each day in a journal, on your phone, or even just take some mindful moments considering this.
- Stop comparing yourself to those around you, what you see online, or to the person you think you should be.
Have your own experience with finding or nurturing self-love, or any guidance you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.
By Emily Harris
Emily is our Social and Content Assistant who you’ll find at an art gallery, snapping away on her camera, or updating her Instagram with a gin in hand (so millennial).