I wish we were greedy with feminism.
Hear me out. You see, I wish we were greedy with feminism, as at least then we’d be giving ourselves some, we’d be benefitting from the work we put in. Instead, we’ve become selfless with feminism, far too selfless, to the extent that we’ll offer it to everyone but ourselves. We’ll provide compassion, acceptance and empathy to our fellow women, yet hold ourselves to the same rigid standards we work on dismissing.
She can be fat and be beautiful, but I have to lose weight to be pretty.
She can have sex for her pleasure, but I think I’m a slut if I do.
She can wear whatever she wants, but I have to be more conservative.
I’m not talking about personal preference. You can prefer wearing trousers over short skirts and be a feminist, no issue. I’m talking about the way we bully and belittle ourselves, doing the patriarchy’s work for them, and then offer kindness to fellow women. I’m talking about how we refuse to give the gift of feminism to ourselves. Where the hell is the ‘me’ in feminism?
We act as if we have a limited reserve of self-love and care, and so we selflessly offer it to everyone around us. We tell our friend that she should never consider herself a slut for enjoying herself. That she doesn’t deserve to be catcalled or objectified. We comment eagerly on a feminist article or a photo of a plus-sized woman rocking a crop top. We give, and we give, leaving nothing left for ourselves.
Then when we need feminism, we have nothing to offer ourselves. We tell ourselves that we’re too fat to wear that skirt or crop top. That we should hide our body until it is as thin as society deems it should be, that we’re the reason he doesn’t text back, that we can’t give up sex until we’re sure he likes us. Everyone is entitled to their own preferences, but I’m talking about bullying ourselves, holding ourselves to limitations and restrictions that we would never give to another.
We belittle ourselves, punching our morale until it is bruised and weak. We refuse to grant the beautiful gift of feminism to ourselves. But we deserve feminism; we deserve to feel good and strong and equal.
But here is the secret that people don’t want you to know, as that keeps you small and timid: there is no limit to your feminism. You can offer feminism to everyone else and still have enough to give yourself. You can think she is strong and beautiful, and that you are too. Their strength does not detract from your own.
If you think women can wear what they want, so can you. If you think women don’t have to shave, neither do you. Everything that you consider a choice for others should be viewed as a choice for yourself. You don’t have to do these things, as what you want may differ from them, but realise that you have the option to. It is your decision.
And be kind to yourself, you don’t deserve to be called ‘fat’, ‘ugly’ or any other pejorative term, especially by yourself! You need to start being your own friend, and more than that, your biggest cheerleader. Loving yourself is the biggest investment into your future and ambitions. It is the most significant step towards a happy and healthy life. You deserve everything in life, so why do you refuse to see that?
I’m not sure how I feel about this phrase, as I find it to be extremely loaded. I’ve heard a lot of evidence for both sides of it, and now I’ll share my point of view. To me, this phrase is closely linked to the idea that you can’t fix yourself whilst you’re with someone. I disagree with that. People can’t fix you, but you can grow and develop whilst in a relationship, and their support can be an incremental part of that. I learned how to manage my personality disorder and began loving my body more whilst in a serious relationship. A significant factor was seeing that someone else could love me. That isn’t enough, and shouldn’t be used as a support raft, but it can be the foundations from which you build your own house of health and self-love.
But back to the point at hand, does our lack of self-love mean others can’t love us? In some ways, maybe, as if we don’t reflect the fact that we’re worthy of love, why should anyone offer it to us?
“We accept the love we think we deserve” - Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
And we do. When I hated myself, I was determined to find people who would confirm that view of me. Who would treat me like garbage, because that’s how I saw myself. I deserved to sleep with people who wouldn’t text me, or who would ask me to leave the minute it was over. That cemented my worth. It gave me a reason to feel so crap about myself all the time. But when I began thinking that maybe I was worth more than that, perhaps I wasn’t as worthless as I had previously assumed, I stopped accepting that treatment from others.
I think the main point in whether someone else should love you if you don’t, is that their love is meaningless without your own. You’ll just deny it and push it away; you’ll refuse to believe them when they call you beautiful. But you are beautiful, and you are perfect at being you. The love of another isn’t worth as much of your own, think of it as a depreciating pound pitted against a euro.
Love yourself first, so that anyone else’s love is a fun added bonus. Care for yourself, so that you always have a reserve from which to give others. Feminism is a glorious gift, and it is great to share it around, but not until you’ve offered it to yourself first. This body you inhabit, the soul that drives you, will be your only real constant in life. So give it all the kindness that you even consider providing others.
Find the ‘me’ in feminism.
Have you checked out the best quotes in "Women Don't Owe You Pretty" yet?
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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