Phase 1: Love Yourself
I think that the single hardest thing that anyone of any age/shape/size/gender can overcome is that hurdle we have to jump to obtain self-love. I’m not talking about vanity, pride or narcissism… I mean that step toward seeing ourselves for all that we are (the good, the bad, the ugly the wonderful) and choosing to love ourselves.
Without self-love: We cannot change. We cannot excel toward our goals. We cannot understand our strengths and weaknesses. We cannot possibly make quality choices for ourselves.
We live in a society that wants us to hate ourselves. That criticizes. That blames. That resents success. That works hard to stoke the flames of rage, mistrust, and paranoia. Our media, fiction, advertising is all promoting an unobtainable idealized reality. We’re left feeling unsatisfied, excluded, lonely, jealous and defeated before we even begin.
The truth is… we boil down this initial first step of “Self Love” as though it is some sort of obvious given. Like it is just some easy realization you should be able to come to, one day. “I love myself” and then golden lights stream down from the heavens and doors open for you and nothing bad ever happens… because you’ve reached that goal of loving yourself… and now everyone is going to accept you and love you, too!
Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. Loving yourself is a life-long relationship you are deciding to have with yourself. It is an ongoing dialogue. It will not make you better than anyone else… it will only make you better than you were before you chose to love yourself.
I have a lot to say about self-love and how to practice it in your day-to-day life. But, let’s go ahead and assume that everyone is reading this has already made that first step.
You’ve decided that you love yourself! And, you should be very proud for making that choice. You’re taking steps to show yourself how worthy you are of love and happiness. You’re feeling great about you. That. Is. Amazing!
The body acceptance movement reminds us constantly that self-love is the first step toward general social acceptance. Acceptance is the ultimate goal. That’s where we are envisioning the world once everyone has decided “I love myself”.
But, what about Phase 2?
What IS Phase 2?
Does there need to BE a Phase 2?
Can’t we just all decide we love ourselves and then… like magic… we are all accepted?
Phase 2: LOVE OTHERS!
So, you’ve ridden the golden elevator to the top floor and have joined the ranks of other elite self-loving humans. You have… ARRIVED!
Now it’s time for you to turn around and send that elevator back down. Bring other people UP to your level. It isn’t enough to have one single figurehead representing us all in the size acceptance world. That is like choosing a queen or president! Size acceptance is for everybody. We are all kings and queens, here, darling. We are not trying to re-invent the wheel and promote a new standard of beauty. We are trying to make it possible for all people to feel beautiful and worthy of love, success, and happiness on their own terms.
Phase 2 is even harder than Phase 1.
Phase 1 is something that you can do alone… in a vacuum. If you fuck it up… you can forgive yourself and start over fresh the next day.
Phase 2 requires you to have such a strong sense of self-love that you don’t feel threatened by others… and you don’t try to compete with them. It means that you can’t be catty. You cannot gossip. You can’t deliberately keep someone from shining because you’re above them and feel entitled to it more. You can’t tear someone down for shining. You can’t revel in the demise or misfortune of anyone. You can’t justify your poor behavior as “self-love” because it makes you feel good to tear someone else down for a few minutes.
Phase 2 is deciding that the greater good for future generations is more important than your personal gain or schadenfreude lunch date with the girls. The mere concept of that goes against everything society has told us to become. We are programmed to want to live in a mansion with gold toilets and sleep on a bed made of money. We are not programmed to accept the roles we have to play in life and love the life we have.
I struggle with Phase 1 on a regular basis.
And, even when I feel like I have a handle on Phase 2… I make a total asshole of myself and prove to myself that I am a product of the society I live in.
I feel so much pressure to be perfect.
I feel so much pressure to be accepted… that I find myself trying way too hard, sometimes.
My personal insecurities mixed with the status quo keep me from getting ahead in life.
My natural curiosity and love for people help me to reach out and try to understand others… but, my natural ignorance offends them and keeps us from connecting. Or, my feelings get hurt when they cannot accept me or say something cruel to/about me.
My personal history makes it easy for me to get hurt… to get defensive… to recoil… to get angry… to want to fight… to want there to be a shift in power, so that fat girl is considered more beautiful than skinny girls. But, then, I consider that the phrase “All Bodies are GOOD Bodies” does not mean “My Body is Better than Your Body!” or “Your Body is Better than My Body.”
There are days when I don’t think it will ever be possible for us to reach Phase 3.
But, then… I see the things I’ve said and done influencing the people around me.
I see the power I have to help change things, in action!
I watch that little drop I added to the pool create ripples… which inspires others to create ripples… together we create waves…
And, over time… I watch the small things I’ve broadcasted become bigger and bigger.
Or, I am deeply affected by the ripples someone else has made. And, those ripples turn into waves that push me towards things that are bigger than me. They present me with ideas and perspectives that sooth me and bring me peace and clarity.
All at once… I realize… I am part of something so much bigger than myself alone!
Phase 2 is where we COME TOGETHER.
I may never be remembered or get credit for being the small voice in the background… while the loudest most popular voices get all of the attention and praise. But, as long as my voice makes even the smallest difference… I am confident that Phase 2 is possible… and that Phase 3 can be a reality.
At the end of the day, I put on my jammies and curl up with Phase 1. And, I tell myself “Good job! Keep that up. Phase 2 needs you.”