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Feminist self love is a rather simple idea. I have tried to incorporate whatever I have learnt from various feminist theories and apply them to the self love concept. I shall be enlisting some of the things that I deduced from feminism over the years. Most of these tips can be used by a person of any gender, but some of these are meant exclusively for women. This is due to the fact that the constant bombardment of unrealistic media and societal images mostly affects women’s self esteem to a large extent. This needs to be understood and rectified.
It is a well known fact that unless one is full of unconditional love for oneself, he/she cannot be a useful component to the society at large. Let us take an analogy of a jug of water and some small glasses. Only when the jug is full and overflowing with water, can it be used to fill up the glasses. And moreover , if the number of glasses increases, the jug needs to be refilled so that it can continue to be useful in the whole process.Similarly, the love that we have inside us needs to be constantly refilled before we can give or (even receive) love from others. In actual terms,the refilling is the tricky part.
What most people tend to do is, they try to fill the inner void with the love or affection from others. But this never really works,since there is only so much love someone else can give you. This is due to the fact that they have their own priorities and varied life experiences to take care of. It would be ridiculous to expect someone to hold you as their constant object of attention/affection. So, the only solution is to fill up the inner jug, if you may, with affection and unconditional acceptance. No judgments, no feelings of guilt or anguish. Give more to yourself and in the process, nurture your inner being. This is what self love is all about.
Now, to talk about feminist self love. Feminism, in many ways, has tried to talk about how women need to stop seeking for validation outside and build self confidence (and this is of course not merely applicable for women,but in a patriarchal society, women are often filled with regret over looking after their own needs).
The first step towards feminist self love is to stop the self hate and negative self talk regarding one’s own body. The societal pressure to adhere to a particular stereotype can be a very frustrating experience and this often leads to decrease in self esteem. It is imperative to take care of oneself no doubt, but it is another matter to obsess about one’s weight or body issues. This new year, why not start with a resolution to love your body more? Eat natural food, exercise more, meditate and more importantly, accept the way your body looks. Everyone is unique.There is absolutely no reason why you need to stick to a particular stereotype just because the media (through adverts,etc) or your peers expect you to.
The other thing that women in particular need to do is to form strong friendly bonds with other females. That does not mean that they should avoid men or exclude them from their activities. But in today’s society,often times women themselves end up slut shaming or hating other women themselves. This might be due to the dependence women have on men in a patriarchy, ergo, leading to the competition between women for power that comes with being close to men (Women themselves are left powerless in a patriarchal arrangement). Instead of indulging in all this,women need to form strong sisterhood relationships with other women and celebrate womanhood while solidifying their own self love in the process. This would increase the level of positivity and self acceptance to a great level.
The third thing people can do is with respect to the kind of info-entertainment they indulge in. Since we know how harmful some of the mainstream media can be on the self esteem of women, we need to also watch stuff that is conducive to one’s self image.This can be done by applying the famous Bechdel test on the movies (or even television series/books) they see.This test was created by an American queer feminist cartoonist called Alison Bechdel ,who enlisted some prerequisites that need to be met for a movie to be called GENDER FRIENDLY. These are: (a) The movie needs to have at least two women in it (b) The women need to talk to each other (c) They should talk to each other about any topic not involving a man. It was found out that very few movies can actually pass this test. Women should opt for more motion pictures that focus on (strong) female characters. In this way ,they can enjoy quality entertainment,while starting to enjoy their own womanhood.
In the end, everyone needs to embrace their own self, without any preconditions.One of the main things that one needs to understand is that it is okay to fail sometimes. The important thing is to get back on your feet and start afresh. Treat yourself the way you would treat people close to you.
Feminism has always tried to focus on the importance of individuality and the need for being unique.
So,take my advice. Start a revolution today! Love yourself more, The feminist way.
Pic credit: Duncan (Used under a Creative Commons license)
An engineer. Has worked in the IT industry for a while and then decided to
Hi Aindrila Chaudhuri,
You have chosen a topic which, as you yourself have pointed out, applies to all. But as you had already said, many women are expected to be martyrs in any kind of set up, and has also been frequently given more social approbation for being so. Even our own mothers and grandmothers have fallen prey to such tactics and stretched themselves to fit into the role. Hence the next generation also expects the same from the other women. This has caused the disparity in outlook for many men. When it is raised as human rights issue, they see it as arrogance and dominance, rather than a rightful need. It is during such times, that women are made to feel guilty and they get trapped in their own emotions and the external demands. Here, nobody is at fault, but is just the conditioning caused by the way our predecessors have led their life.
There is also stereotyped expectation from males in another way, by expecting them ‘not to cry or show emotions’, ‘be brave at all times’, ‘bear the family burden’, ‘take care of his female siblings,’ which makes it difficult for them to express concentrate on their emotional needs, take care of their own partner and kids, show compassion and sadness, (as much as women do, as they are considered as sissies, if they do so).
If all of us need to break such stereotypes, then we need to accept the person as an individual with their own strength and weakness, rather than as male and female. The Bechdel test is an eye-opener for many of us. Good that you have explained it. There are many women, who actually do not watch some mega serials and are aversive towards it, because of such stereotypical behaviour shown in it, and for encouraging patriarchal views. A simple way of understanding would be that in this short life, we are traveling in a train, and we are just sharing each others time, effort and love, so that our journey is happier one. When we travel by train, do we expect one person to eat later, sleep later, keep sacrificing their space and time for the other, every time? Then let us view life the same way. No one is here to sacrifice out of the way, but some minor adjustments in a mutual manner goes a long way.
Let us all be examples for the next generation at least!
You have brilliantly pointed out how stereotyping has an equally harmful effect on both men and women.People have a tendency to categorise things into neat boxes, but life does not work that way at all! Instead of forcibly putting people under narrow definitions,it is much more healthier if we embrace quirkiness and eccentricities in people’s natures.
Gender,like all other social constructs,can be problematic if it does not allow flexibility to express oneself.
“A simple way of understanding would be that in this short life, we are traveling in a train, and we are just sharing each others time, effort and love, so that our journey is happier one. When we travel by train, do we expect one person to eat later, sleep later, keep sacrificing their space and time for the other, every time? Then let us view life the same way.”
Loved this imagery <3 🙂
Thanks Aindrila for learning to appreciate the essence of what is written and also for enjoying the same. Do keep posting such articles. It is really nice to share a platform for exchange of positivity and happiness.
Also, just thought of sharing the other blogs which also talks about women’s issues. If you have time, you may see them and post your views there too, as I feel that there are very few women who really see everything in the proper perspective. But when I read the articles pasted in this blog, I found that there are more women, who can talk sense but need more opportunities for expressing themselves. I would thank womensweb for providing one such avenue. The other blogs would be 50millionmissing.wordpress.com
indianhomemaker.wordpress.com and indianmalefeminist.wordpress.com
Kindly share this info to like-minded people. I say this because, under some recent issues in newspaper,(like the singer Mr.Palash Sen, passing some comments in the IIT campus, Mumbai) I found the comments very much misogynistic. Some of the people who comment in blogs like this, are unable to bring out an attitude change in those people, as we do not seem to post our comments there. Or even if some women had commented, they were quite apologetic in their tone, which gives an upper hand to the men. It is as if the men are doling out some privileges and the women need to accept how much ever little they give. The need for assertiveness is missing in their writings. But both women and men in womensweb blogs and the other blogs that I have mentioned, are very vociferous, which is required to help the misogynists to understand that THEY have a wrong attitude.
Excuse me for taking your time, but thought it imperative, since the efforts we all put in for a cause, should reach the target group much faster than it becomes late. Thanks.
Hi…I just forget to add my appreciation to you for posting this. You have captured the important points in a beautiful way and also this is a great help for all, to start loving themselves and give happiness to all with this positive frame of mind….great write up….keep posting many such thought provoking articles. Thanks.
Loved this article, Aindrila. It’s true that we need to first love and esteem ourselves before we can love others – else you only end up feeling used and resentful.
Thank you! 🙂 And yes,we can only be of use to others when we have something substantial to contribute .Before we can help others,we need to help ourselves! xoxoxoxo
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