Self Love is a Work of Art

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What does self love mean? What does loving myself even look like? What paradigm of self love should I follow? I couldn’t look in the media because it’s plastered with images of people perpetuating ideals of flawed standards of beauty. I couldn’t look to music because it’s inundated with products of cosmetic surgeries and booty shots posing as artists and video vixens. I couldn’t even look at my parents because they have yet to discover the phenomenon of self love for themselves. So, where did I look? Myself.

My entire life I was told to love myself. I was told that self love was the most important kind of love. I was told that if I could not love myself, I could never love someone else. I was told to love myself and that everything else would fall in line. But I was never told what that actually meant.

With almost no external examples of self love, the road to genuinely loving myself was bumpy and full of potholes. The lack of identity, self respect and self awareness created debilitating craters in the pavement of my road. Disowning my power and autonomy introduced road blocks that detoured my journey to self love with stigmatized societal images of beauty and stifling views of how I should love myself. Desperately searching for a change in direction - a fork in this road of life - I forced myself to stop and look in the mirror.

I stared at myself. I stared at myself for years. If I was to love myself, I had to be able to recognize myself. I had to know who I was and how I looked. I had to know how I felt. I had to know how I expressed each and every emotion. I had to know what I liked, what I didn’t like. I had to know my strength, my power and my purpose. I had to deprogram every preconceived and tainted notion of what beauty and self love looked like. I had to deconstruct the system that reduced my value to my position on society’s totem pole of beauty. I had to demystify the veil and see myself for who I was, who I really was.

Once I saw myself, I became myself. Living authentically was how my self love presented itself. I learned that self love was not a static entity. Self love is not something you simply do. It’s not just taking a thousand pictures of yourself for social media. Self love is not narcissistic in nature. Self love is not developing a false representation of yourself and self love is not simply imitating high self esteem.  Loving yourself is a dynamic action. It’s layered; it’s deep. It’s embracing every single facet of who you are. It’s knowing what you deserve and settling for nothing less. Self love is trusting yourself. It is believing in your nature, your truth and your flexibility. Self love is refusing to live as an apology. Self love is an everlasting determination to live on purpose. Self love is following your passions and dreams.

See, self love is a work of art. It’s subjective in its appearance. The beauty of self love lies in the reflection of its artist. You’re the artist. So, look in the mirror. It may take a while to clean that mirror. But trust me, once you see that artistic reflection with no dirt, no smudges, no socially constructed distortions, you’ll fall in love with the artist, and you’ll know exactly what self love is.

Manessa Riser writes at The Changing Ink

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