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The Not-so-Pretty Side of Self-Love and Self-Care

MARCH 2, 2022 · Written by Glacys Agustin for Stripped Beauty


If you've spent any amount of time online at all these last few years, chances are you've come across content about self-love and self-care. On the surface, the message seems like a good one, and I'd be inclined to agree; But if you take a closer look at how these messages are conveyed, you'll notice how superficial they are.

 

Toxic positivity is the act of maintaining a positive mindset at all times-- including the bad ones-- even if it's at the expense of your negative emotions. Being sad, angry, hurt, or frustrated is never fun, but these are important things to feel, and toxic positivity tends to invalidate them. It breaches the line between optimism and avoidance.

 

Instagram's idea of self-love and self-care is unrealistic. I'm going to break down what I feel to be more practical conceptions, and maybe by the end of this article, you'll feel the same way too.

 

BODY NEUTRALITY

 

Another thing you've probably encountered online is body positivity. According to our favorite reputable source, Wikipedia, it's a "social movement focused on the acceptance of all bodies, regardless of size, shape, skin tone, gender, and physical abilities, while challenging present-day beauty standards as an undesirable social construct."

 

I think this is a beautiful movement, but in truth, trying to practice it in your everyday life can prove challenging.

 

Enter: Body neutrality.

 

You don't have to feel strongly about your body, whether positive or negative. You simply accept it as it is and focus your attention on other things. Your body wasn't made to be looked at. It was made to keep you alive.

 

It's hard to kick the desire to be "attractive" when we're constantly bombarded with advertisements and media that tell us we need to be nice to look at. If we're being fair, we could say that complete body neutrality is unattainable too, but it's possible to get a little closer to it.

 

Move. It doesn't matter how rigorously. A quick yoga session or walk in the park is enough. It's good for your physical health, and hopefully, you'll come to appreciate what your body can do. Try to engage in hobbies that don't have to do with physicality. Reading, painting, writing, or knitting-- anything you can do with your hands, are good ones. Try to engage your senses and take note because those perceptions wouldn't exist without the functionality of the human body.

 

Lastly, cut out what doesn't serve you. You know this without being told, but here's a reminder. If social media makes you fall into the trap of comparison, try to spend less time on it. Try not to be around people who aren't constructive. Try your absolute best to kick bad habits that make you feel worse.

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SELF-CARE

 

Self-care is not always soft and pretty. Instagram will have you thinking it's all bubble baths, skincare routines, and glasses of wine. In actuality, self-care is a responsibility. It's taking care of your physical needs and getting the things you've been putting off done.

 

I struggle heavily with depression and executive dysfunction. Most days, it's hard to do anything at all. I've fallen in such deep slumps that I completely neglected my personal hygiene and environment. I was a mess, my house was a mess, my grades were suffering, and my social life was non-existent. In those times, sometimes, a simple shower would be an act of self-care. Cleaning my room is an act of self-care. Getting off my butt and finally doing those assignments is self-care.

 

Don't get me wrong, I think a person needs an adequate amount of pampering to be their best, but before that should come taking care of your immediate needs and obligations. Having a spa day won't do much to lessen your stress if you're being avoidant. It won't do much if you haven't eaten, hydrated, or slept enough.

 

To be honest, I've been having a rough time lately, but the few days I've been productive and taken proper care of my body have pulled me through. Days like that make a world of difference in how I feel, motivating me to have more of them.

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