Editor’s Note: This month, that is December 2020, FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth is Modern Love and Relationships, where we invite various articles to highlight how love has been fundamental in our lifeworlds and how these experiences and perceptions around love are shaped by our identities in a modern Indian context. If you’d like to share your article, email us at email@example.com.
Posted by Amulya Raghavan
bell hooks, in her famous book all about love, describes love as an action; as something that we choose to do either for ourselves or for someone else. Love is all around us. Love might be all we see sometimes, as we scroll through social media or just anywhere around us and takes many shapes and forms – romantic relationships, parental relationships, friendships, etc. The most “controversial” of all, the most spoken about in every platform available is self love. Where do we even begin with self love?
In this large sea of wisdom, it’s hard to find one useful idea that resonates with us in the journey of self love. Truly, as social media updates itself to the newest and loveliest vanity that dictate how we must look and feel, what must we buy to feel up-to-date and the millions of ads that show up more than posts about the thing you supposedly need, and with influencers repeatedly saying, “good vibes only”, rarely do we find the right things that allows us to truly, completely love ourselves for the ‘flaws’ that aren’t even flaws to begin with.
There is a lovely quote by Jenny Holzer, “It is in your self-interest to find a way to be very tender.” And it’s something that must resonate with everybody as a way of beginning our journey with self love. To first be tender with ourselves, we must be kind. It is very easy to be harsh, to be so quick to point out a flaw within ourselves and to sell ourselves short as quickly as we compliment somebody. But it’s baffling and tiring that voices and quotes like these are often drowned out in the myriad and infinite space of the ideas self love through retail therapy, through the continuous assault of what we truly believe in and which we never follow through.
Self love is imperative. It is nourishing, it helps us navigate difficult times with the kindness and tenderness we seek externally. It is common knowledge that major beauty corporations require us to be insecure or use ways to make us introspect and find out what we lack, so they can keep supplying to fill that lack. But, I must ask:
What do we truly lack that these companies know?
How often do we only later supplement a name to the lack in ourselves after we have seen something in someone or a shop?
Do we really lack anything?
Of course, this isn’t to diminish the fact that we may be lacking something like knowledge etc., which we attain all through our lives formally. But we can, now, informally (or formally through therapy) attain the knowledge of self love; attain the way we can assert and assure ourselves that we are not lacking in any shape or form.
As is the case with romantic kinds of love, kindness is the order of the day. Candles, vanity, taking a bubble bath will only get us so far before we start feeling bad again. Just as you are kind to someone else, it is important to show that kindness to yourself. There are plenty of guidebooks or self help books that have the solutions to self love. But self love is a process – not a one stop train you are getting down from. You will reside with the feeling of love permanently, but we make various stops in between to learn and unlearn our habits of self critical behavior that can be harmful to ourselves.
Social media influencers make self love look so easy. And that is the idea of vanity or beauty which we aim to seek, but end up wanting more of because it is never enough. They make it seem as if you can just buy your way to self love and acceptance if you simply spent the same outrageous amount of money they spend into making themselves look good.
We are human beings, at the end of the day. In order to live our best lives, we can buy and do numerous things, but what matters is if you have yourself at the end of the day. People come easily and go easily. As much as it is important for someone to validate our experiences, it is equally important that you validate your small joys, your small or big victories, your own smile in the mirror when you stand to check yourself.
As I mentioned above, self love is a process and everyone is worthy of love – even from their own self.
You are truly worth it.
Amulya recently finished her Bachelors in English from Manipal Centre for Humanities, Manipal University and is currently interested in pursuing her masters further in English or Gender studies. She loves poetry, art and is very passionate about advocating for mental health and works for making her space on the internet as safe as possible for people who follow her. She is interested in discourse that involves making people understand politics, how it affects our lives and uses poetry and art as a method for people to understand and form their opinions. For the most part of the day, she is a confused scatterbrain, but with her heart in the right place, she wishes to make this world a little more bearable in whatever way possible. You can find her on Instagram.
Featured Image Source: Feminism In India