Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In honor of Valentine's Day: Learning to love (myself)

Note: Karen C. L. Anderson is currently running a giveaway on her blog to win a trip to Green Mountain at Fox Run, and this is the essay she asked for as one of her "entry" options. I also thought that a post on the role of self-love in my life would be appropriate for Valentine's Day. 

I hear a lot of voices in my head about self-esteem.

There is the voice of my past, the voice that tells me I have to earn my self-esteem, and that it's not ever okay to stop trying to win other people's love and respect, but it's also not okay to brag or show off.  I think that message was unintentionally transmitted, but it still sunk in.

There is the sweeping "You Go Girl!" message that seems to be everywhere lately, that tells me I should always love myself, every minute, just for being me!!! It feels annoying and insincere. I want to honor and acknowledge all of my feelings, even those that tell me I have fallen short (if I really have). I don't want to be comforted for every passing feeling.  I don't want a ninth-place ribbon.  I want to learn from my mistakes and move forward. Even the cheeriest person on earth has her moments of self-doubt, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

At the same time, I read Vickie's post about The Dreadful PJs with horror.  I cringe at the post she linked from Munchberry's blog where Munchberry calls herself "oinkette." I don't agree with weight-loss tips that say you should post "fat" pictures on your fridge or buy a cookie jar that oinks when you open it.  Those tips may work for people with stronger self-images than me, but I know that if I talk to myself that way, I will believe it and treat myself accordingly.  Bring on the jumbo-sized bags of tortilla chips, and don't forget the queso! If I'm fat and ugly, I might as well eat.

I think the key is not trying to use rah-rah self-talk to bring me to a mushy love affair with me or harsh self-criticism designed to whip me into shape.  Karen put it beautifully in her post about lovingly parenting herself. "I am still proud of myself, and I also see that there is room for improvement." Her experience at Green Mountain Fox Run sounds like the perfect tutorial on self-care:

While there all my meals were prepared for me using wonderful whole foods that I love (I filled out a form and checked off foods I don’t like and if the chefs planned a meal with those foods, they prepared something special for me so I wasn’t forced to choose between eat food I don’t like or going hungry), and all meals were balanced according to sound nutritional guidelines. The food was delicious, filling, and satisfying in every way.
I ate every meal at a table with up to three other women. I ate at set times: breakfast at 8 a.m., lunch at noon, snack time at 3:30 p.m., and dinner at 6 p.m. There was an hour set aside for each meal (and half an hour for a snack), so the schedule had a little wiggle room. If I showed up 15 minutes after the meal had begun, that was fine.

There was also healthy, fun activity included as part of the process., all in a beautiful environment.  I would love to win the trip to practice that kind of self-care.  I already have an idea of how a person with a healthy body image would feel and act, but I'd love a little head start.

For today, I'm going to wear my pretty red bra and try to live the way a confident, happy me would act. Have a happy day and be good to yourself.


  1. I never saw (and still don't) my fat as part of me.

    I saw it as a foreign object that was stuck on my body.

    So, it isn't a body image issue for me in the same way as it is for other people.

    It is (sort of) the same as looking at the clutter in the garage and I need to just get to it.

    I have always thought this difference might be in how long we were over weight, if we always saw ourselves as fat vs got fat in adulthood.

    And yes, I am sure you are right that it is closely tied to self esteem/confidence issues.

  2. This is a very good post. I wrote more about it and it will pop up on Saturday.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07