The more I practice self-care and self-love, the more I realize just how key being a rebel is.
No, I am not talking Molotov cocktails or saying the word fuck in polite company.
(At least not all the time…)
The more I live, the more I realize that the current culture will never give me the permission I long for to live a life of inner wholeness, external integrity, pleasure, and fun. I will be forever standing on the corner of life with my hand out, waiting.
When I first got into body positivity, so much of my energy was focused on changing the view of mainstream America on what constituted beauty.
I thought if I just showed enough statistics that fat was not tantamount to unhealthy, outlined how white supremacy contributed to the idea that dark skin was ugly, and assembled the perfect powerpoint slideshow on the ills of the patriarchy, people would understand and change their minds.
And I could love myself.
I didn’t always know I was doing this. Sometimes my waiting was really unconscious.
I stressed self-love but inside I was waiting on Sports Illustrated, the dudes I saw at the club, Ford Model Management, and Vogue to agree with me before I set forth on truly living and believing in my beauty.
Believing in myself before and away from the permission of the greater society felt dangerous and every time it seemed like the external world disagreed with my inclusive idea around beauty I was shook. I so needed their agreement.
Today, I know better.
I know that in my lifetime, there may very well be one Lupita Nyong’o for every 2,000 generic blonde. I know that the epitome of feminine beauty may be an airbrushed body that is very different from my own, and that there will still be men who will verbally insult any woman who deviates from what Maxim says is “hot” this year.
I am no longer willing to be waiting on the corner of life with my hand out.
And this unwillingness extends itself beyond beauty politics and body image.
One of the most difficult aspects of self-love as a woman is how lonely it can be. People don’t talk enough about this. Yes, there are a-ha moments and experiences of deep inner bliss, but sometimes loving yourself and living your version of the good life is lonely as fuck.
You may get made fun of, abandoned, questioned. Your family may decide that they really don’t like this new you who is setting boundaries and talking about the real effects of trauma. Your friends may stop inviting you to brunch.
And it can feel safe to stay small, to go backwards and fit in. After all, we are social beings who crave connection above all else.
For me, practicing self-love means that I may constantly be in a state of rebellion. The rebellious acts are large and tinny-tiny, but they are still moments where I declare (even if it’s a still small whisper inside my own heart) that I will not be matching the dictates of the party line.
I won’t valorize over-working and depletion.
I will find ways to love my body as it is.
I won’t decide that 30 is the end of my life and that I can’t have any fun anymore.
I won’t “positive-think” my pain away.
I won’t spiritually bypass the effects of racism and sexism on self-love.
I will not equate vulnerability with failure or humiliation.
I won’t look to mainstream celebrities as my guides on how to live. (no #goals for this woman…)
And so on.
And so forth.
And I will recognize that it may indeed be lonely and feel awkward and strange to live this way. I may lose people and feel the tug towards playing it safe.
The call to live a life we are proud of means that we are constantly reevaluating and reasserting what our true values are. It may mean we are misfits or labelled weirdos or have to find a new crew. But, I feel that living a life where we are not slicing off pieces of ourselves is well worth this price.
And here’s the cool thing: the more I practice this inner rebellion, the more I keep finding resources, experiences and people who get me and what I am about.
I find friends who love my weirdo self and experiences which leave me feeling whole.
Spaciousness and release envelope my entire life.
I find new tribes.
I don’t look at my past moments of waiting on external conditions to change with shame. I had to go through this process and realize the futility of such waiting to arrive where I am today.
I had to see that the power to live out loud truly resides in me. I used to think this was just something sanguine that self-help gurus said to make money, but now I see that they were actually being for real.
The power of self-acceptance truly resides in our own hearts.
This self-love rebellion is something I am consistently thinking over, but for the first time in my life I feel crystal clear that I am no longer willing to make “what will other people think” my stopping point.
When such thoughts arise (and they do, they are persistent little fuckers) I notice them, I let them take up space, and then I do my best to carefully let them go.
I hope that you find your ways to be a self-love rebel and that you keep true to the values that matter to YOU.
Onward (and in loving rebellion),
Art by : RiA