Monday, 22 August 2016

Self-Love ≠ Arrogance

Self-Love ≠ Arrogance

While on Twitter yesterday, I saw some tweets from Fiona Longmuir of The Escapologist's Daughter (@EscapologistFi) in response to those who believed she posted a selfie to fish for compliments or saw it as a sign of arrogance - "if you do say so yourself" because she said that she was still beautiful without make-up. Fiona responded with:

"I do say so myself. Because I think in this society, a woman liking herself is a radical thing and I'm teaching myself to do that every day.

"My photos of myself aren't about you telling me I'm pretty. They're about me learning to look at myself in a way I was taught not to.
That last line (emphasis my own) really struck a chord with me.

We live in a society where a lot of products aimed at women are about fixing ourselves. Apparently, there are multiple signs of ageing, and we must fight them all - it's lucky, then, that this moisturiser will do just that! It's unsightly for women to have body hair - well, this hair removal cream will get rid of it all for you! Pale skin gives you a tired and unhealthy looking pallor - but this fake tan will have you looking golden in a jiffy! These are all for products advertised in a supermarket's free magazine, where most of the adverts are for food and home products, but flick through a woman's magazine, and you're inundated with adverts selling products that will fix every conceivable physical fault. A lot of the language used in the adverts is tailored to make you feel negatively towards your body, so you'll buy their miracle product to fix whatever problem area is doing the rounds this month. If women don't feel bad about themselves, those companies don't sell their products. If you believe there's something wrong with how you look, if you believe there is an ideal, perfect body, and if they can convince you that their product will take you a step closer to this mythical ideal, all the better and the money will come rolling in. It just goes to further prove that beauty, as it's sold to us, simply doesn't exist.

So we live in a society that actively encourages us to find fault in how we look. In turn, it becomes ingrained in us that being unhappy with your body is the normal state of being; if a woman is happy with how she looks, rather than this being something wondrous, she's arrogant. And if a woman is arrogant, she needs knocking down a peg or two. "'Ark at her, thinking she's God's gift! Sorry love, but you're really nothing special." I don't know if it's because arrogance is an ugly trait and humility is preferable (because, of course, hating your body is the height of humility), or if other people's jealousies come out because they're not in the position of being happy with their own bodies, but a woman feeling happy in her skin seems to bring out our bitchiness.

This is also shown when given a compliment. The acceptable way to respond to a compliment is as follows:

Sarah: "Wow, you look gorgeous in that dress!"
Janice: "Are you having a laugh? I'm so fat! I wish I had your figure!"

However, it is absolutely in no way ever acceptable to respond to a compliment like this:

Sarah: "Wow, you look gorgeous in that dress!"
Janice: "Aw, thank you, Sarah!"

No. No no no. Thanking someone for their compliment is tantamount to agreeing with them, and, as has already been discussed, it is not ok to feel good about yourself! In cases where I myself have simply thanked the woman complimenting me, I have seen the expectant pause while they wait for me to tell them they're wrong and compliment them instead, the frown when it doesn't happen, quickly followed by a look of disgust. All because I said "Thank you." How dare I be so up my own backside as to graciously accept a compliment! How dare I not put myself down! How dare I not claim this person is a thousand times more beautiful than I! It sounds absurd, but this is what society expects of us.

As Fiona said, we've been taught not to look at ourselves and see anything other than a body we hate - and to expect other women to, as well. When a woman can look at herself and feel good about what she sees, it's huge! For a woman to face the constant barrage of daily messages telling us we aren't and never will be beautiful, and yet come out of it looking at herself and loving the skin she's in - that shouldn't be berated, in should be celebrated!

It's not arrogance, it's self-love.

It's not vanity, it's self-confidence.

It's not egotism, it's a bloody miracle.

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