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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
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