Kovacs: The self-love stigma

August 23, 2017

Madeleine Albright coined, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other,” and it’s the feminist mantra I strive to live by. 



I try hard to be especially kind to women. I do my best not to entertain rumors. I feel ashamed when I think something hurtful or I pass judgment too quickly, promising myself to be better the following day.


And, yet, I fail at feminism all the time because I somehow can’t figure out how to be consistently kind to the woman I know best: myself. 


I am my toughest critic, through and through. Even those times I flounder and mindlessly think cruelly of others, I’m aware that those thoughts stem from my own insecurities. I have a hard time accepting compliments at face value, and some days I can’t even smile at my own reflection. 


This certainly isn’t the case every day, however. Typically, I wake up and spend my time loving myself exactly I as am.


But some days that’s particularly hard to do because this sudden and painfully confusing realization occurs to me: no one is supposed to know that I actually love myself. It would make me less attractive mentally and physically.


At least, that’s what I have been taught, and if you take a second to consider it, you, maybe even unknowingly, believe that too. 


Think, how many songs suggest what makes women beautiful is their unwillingness to believe so? How many celebrities get “dragged” for knowing they’re attractive? 


How come when I receive compliments, my reflex is to roll my eyes and deny them? Why do I feel a pang of guilt for being cocky when I acknowledge that I am smart and I am driven and I am fit and a thousand other totally fab things? Because I am.


I feel as though I am being pulled in two very different directions: I am shallow when I am in love with myself but miserable if I don’t love and celebrate who I have spent 21 years becoming. 


Don’t get me wrong, humility is an incredibly admirable trait, but not at the expense of self-love. There is an immense difference between being humble and undervaluing yourself. 


As I continued to peruse this topic of stigmatized self-love, I felt more confused than when I had started; is it more important for others to love me, or for me to love myself? Is the answer to love myself, but not to promote it? 


Then I had my epiphany: the question is complete and utter nonsense. 


I don’t need to sacrifice one for the other. I can love myself and express that love without my likability decreasing. They are not negatively correlated. 


To break that idea that self-love and likability are mutually exclusive, I believe we should encourage confidence in each other. And, for the love of God, if people already have that confidence, we should never try to squander it, but let it flourish. 


When you post that fire Insta photo, fight the urge to include a self-deprecating caption. It’s perfectly OK to post a photo because you feel confident and beautiful.


When we hang out with friends and family, instead of dissing ourselves in a desperate search for validation only to reject compliments, we should start talking about the things we love about ourselves and influence others to do the same. 


I don’t want to sit with my friends and have to spend half of our time together convincing them that they are funny, smart, pretty, accomplished, etc. I want them to see that already, and if they do see that already, then I want them to express it!  


So, the next time I wake up faced with the choice of whether I want to be loved by others or unabashedly love myself, I’m going to bravely choose both. 


Then I’ll add “audacious” to the list of things I adore about myself. 


So, in conclusion, turn on some “Pretty Girl Rock” by Keri Hilson for some serious self-love inspiration and get out there and shamelessly love yourself.

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