We teach our girls to love their body as they are. In a time when young girls are bombarded with images of the *perfect* body, we are teaching them that they need to love themselves. We teach them that wanting to change something they are born with means that they don’t love themselves. We tell young girls that looks don’t matter, but then promote campaigns that show *real women* without make up.
This year domestic violence, rape and consent has been at the forefront of our minds. Activist groups are pushing harder than ever for change, change that is well overdue. The campaigns talk about consent and that a woman’s body is hers alone. Then in the next breath we are telling them that they aren’t *real* if they choose to use make up.
I don’t think the body love campaigns are sending the right message. It teaches women that they should be ashamed if they want to change their appearance. It teaches them that the only possible reason they could want to change their appearance is for men. On one hand we are telling them their body is theirs to do what they want, then placing restrictions on how they express their body love. We tell them that if you don’t love yourself, then you must automatically hate yourself.
I don’t love my body. I respect it. Respect is the natural extension of love. I respect that most of the time it does what I need it to do. I realise that love is more than skin deep. I give myself permission to change the things that I do not like. Why do we tell our girls that looks don’t matter but then celebrate when a woman goes make up free? Why is her self love more important than others?
Self love and the way we feel about our bodies is such a personal belief system. What works for one person, isn’t going to work for another. If someone putting on make up in the morning means that she feels more confident then I am all for it. I am not inside her head and I don’t have to live there. Why does the self love movement have to be a one size fits all? We are all different, so why can’t our expressions of love show that?
I do think that the unspoken (and sometimes quite loudly spoken) rules of self love are doing more harm than good. I think that it’s OK to tell young women that it’s OK to not feel 100% in love with their body. The current conversations can be isolating for young girls who don’t love themselves. So maybe it’s better to talk about our feelings, about the things we aren’t happy with, and give ourselves permission to change.