By Alexa Santory
What is Self Love?
We hear the phrase all the time, but how many of us are actively practicing it? How many of us really know what it means to be self loving? Sure we all have little habits and routines that contribute to us caring for ourselves, but how deep do they actually go? Do they go beyond helping your physical wellness? Do they ease your mind, soul, and spirit? This week’s Beauty School lesson is all about the journey of self love. This isn’t gonna be me sitting here telling you that a face mask and a massage is going to solve all of your problems. Trust me, I’ve tried that. I want to be as honest with you all as possible because that’s one of the steps we all have to take in this self love ride. Learning to fall in love with yourself is a beautiful, sometimes bittersweet, deeply personal journey. It’s the most pure form of love there is and the rewards last a lifetime. Let’s learn how to reap some of those benefits.
Self Care according to Audre Lorde
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Audre Lorde described herself, in her own words, as a “black feminist lesbian mother poet.” Summed up in those 5 words, Lorde only skimmed the surface of the contributions she made to mainstream feminist culture. The biggest one being the ultimate definition of the term “self care.” Like “self love,” we’ve heard the term tethered to outer indulgences like face masks and massages and things of the like. Those things are lovely, sure, and contribute to our outer selves feeling good, which (temporarily) contribute to our inner selves feeling good, but there’s still a lot work to be done. Lorde defines self care in a truly radical way, as she does, because she was a truly radical woman. Let’s get into exactly what Audre meant when she spoke on self care.
Self care as self-preservation is a deeply powerful idea, especially coming from a woman, but most especially coming from a Black woman. Centuries of trauma and oppression have led to the notion that women can handle just about anything that’s thrown their way, good or bad, with little to no regard for how they feel. Lorde’s idea is rather simple and ultimately an act of defiance. You can’t win the fight without caring for yourself, too. When applying Lorde’s definition of self care into your own life, try and remember a few things: you exist, you matter, you’re here to stay. Self care goes beyond your outer appearance looking and feeling a certain way. Self care is listening to yourself, it’s trusting yourself, it’s stepping away from things and people that don’t benefit you and your journey. Your time and your energy are precious. Treat them as such, and things will start falling into place. The sooner we begin to trust our instincts and intuition (which, trust me, is never wrong), the sooner we’ll start to feel that we’re truly caring for ourselves on a deeper and more intimate level.
Listen to “Borderline (An Ode to Self Care)” by Solange. In the song, she sings, “You know I have the world to think/you know I gotta go ahead and take some time/Because the last thing I want/is think that it’s time to leave the borderline.” Humans, in general, take on a lot of burdens that weigh us down. Women, however, feel a different level of emotional, mental, and social burdens that can burn us out. Understand that it’s okay to take a step back and take some time for you to evaluate and reflect on yourself and what you contribute to this world. Self care starts within. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad for trying to take care of yourself on a deep, spiritual level. Learning to understand yourself is a beautiful thing and will benefit the choices you make down the line.
What does self love mean to you?
“It’s not a singular choice, but a series of choices one makes to not only repair and maintain, but to comprehend one’s happiness and self. I think ultimately the most important thing about love in general is being able to understand.” - Donato R., 21, NYC
This week we'll be sharing with you some wonderful women to add to your social feeds. You're already online, why not optimize that space?
Meet Sophia Roe, an incredibly beautiful and honest wellness Influencer. She creates beautiful recipes, advocates for beauty and soundness, and shares her truths with her audience.
One of my fav gems from Sophia:
"A journal practice that helped me..”WHAT DO I FEAR IN MY PURPOSE?” write it down and investigate the stagnation you’re experiencing. Is a trauma holding you back? A family member constantly in your ear about how you 'CAN’T' do something? Is it your self-esteem?"
Struggling with Self Esteem? Break the cycle!
We’ve all had struggles with our self esteem. It’s perfectly human to feel like we’re not pretty enough, not good enough, not smart enough, just not enough. I’m here to tell you: YOU ARE! I know, believing this is easier said than done, but the work starts within. Break that cycle. There are a lot of outside factors that contribute to a lower self esteem. Whether it’s family life, relationships, friendships, economic status -- drilling these factors into your mind will lead them to stick, which will lead us to believe the idea that this is it, I am my flaws and nothing else. There’s a certain sense of shame that comes with a lower self esteem. We feel that when good things happen to us, they’re a fluke or only temporary. But when bad things happen, it’s what we deserve; our penance for being flawed and imperfect. If you’re feeling shame, it’s because you’re internalizing other people’s beliefs of who you should be. Recognize that feeling, listen to it, and take the time to reconnect with yourself. I ask that you try being more kind to yourself. Self esteem, in this context, is more mental and emotional than it is physical.
Here are some steps you can take to rebuild your self esteem and start the journey towards loving yourself unconditionally.
Avoid being negative towards yourself and accept the fact that you’re a human being with flaws. Don’t talk about yourself in a way you wouldn’t talk about others, or how you wouldn’t want others to talk about you. Words hold weight, choose the nice ones when you’re talking about yourself.
Surround yourself with people who love you. Talk to them about how you feel. Let them remind you that you’re special and important and don’t doubt their words. You’re beautiful :)
Say “No” more. Other people do it all the time, so why can’t you, sis?!?! Reject things from your life that no longer serve you. Set boundaries for yourself and what you can tolerate. Take control of your life and your choices. If people get mad because you’re rejecting them and what they’re asking of you, remember that rejection is a misplaced sense of entitlement. You don’t owe anybody anything. You owe it to yourself to protect your well being.
Do more of what you love. Whatever it is (within legal limits please omg), do what makes you happy. And do it often. Whether it’s painting, singing, dancing, writing, volunteering, whatever!! Do it because life is too short not to. Enjoy it while you can!!
Listen, there are plenty of Negative Nancy’s and messed up, out-of-your-control things that’ll try and keep you down in this life. Remember, you are not your money, or your relationships, or your toxic family members. You are not the things you can’t control. There’s only one you and the world wouldn’t be the same with that one you. Love that you.
Tomorrow we talk how to fall in love with yourself, stay tuned.