Self-love. It's a word I use a lot in my brand, my message to my clients, and my day to day life. I'm constantly expressing to the people in my life to practice self-care and self-love. But what does that mean? What does that look like?
Everyone's practices of self-love and self-care (referred to SL & SC for the rest of the post) look different. Because everyone comes from different backgrounds, experiences, and etc, how they express SL/SC is going to be completely unique to themselves.
Here is what it means to me, and what it looks like for me.
Self-love to me is being vulnerable. It's taking the hurt and pain of auto-shaming your body, and turning it into a question. Why do I feel like this? What is the force that is making me feel like this?
I try to be vulnerable with my clients and women in my life as much as possible. To let them in on my self-doubts so they know they're not alone. Body-shaming is something we have all been trained to do without realizing it. It's instant. It's automatic. Sometimes we don't recognize that we're doing it. And it's an incredibly hard habit to break. Here are some things that I do to turn my vulnerability, my body-shame, into moments where I can learn a different way to love myself:
- Breathe. If you find yourself shaming your body, try to stop. Take deep breaths and imagine yourself pushing those hateful thoughts outside your mind. Count to three while inhaling through your nose. Count to four while exhaling through your mouth. Close your eyes. Wiggle your finger tips. Wiggle your toes. Recognize that you are alive in this body, that it is a gift. Breathe.
- Tell yourself that you are unique, and beautiful. This body is a gift to be cherished. Do not punish it and shame it for existing. We are all built differently - you are one of a kind. Imagine your closest friend is with you. What would they say to you? Talk to yourself like your friend would talk to you. Keep breathing. You are a gift.
- Touch those parts of yourself that you hate. I like to grab my belly during this process. I give it a squeeze. I grab my arms. I squish them. Not with hate - but with love. Pour your love into those places that need it most. They are a part of you. They make you, you. And you're beautiful and a gift. So they are too. Touch. Love.
- Stretch deeply. Taking those deep breaths, stretch your body. Close your eyes. Be present in this moment and revel in how good it feels to be grounded in your body. Stretch. Make space for more love.
I feel shame about my body often. I'm not happy with it all the time. And most of the time practicing SL&SC is incredibly hard. I don't always love the way my body looks with this extra weight and fluff. And that's okay. It's okay not to love yourself all the time. But it's not okay to not try. So look yourself in the mirror and hold yourself accountable for standing up for yourself. It's incredibly hard sometimes - but you deserve to be loved by you.
Self-love to me is facing my insecurities and sharing it with others.
I'm not the biggest fan of getting in front of the camera. But that's why I make myself do it frequently, so that I can remind myself what my clients feel like. I remind myself what it feels like to look at photos of yourself. Especially photos that you may not feel sexy in. Loving myself is being able to accept my insecurities, and to face them by memorializing them through photography. I originally didn't like the majority of photographs featured in this post. But whenever I'm unhappy with a photograph, I will practice the above bullet-points, take a few days away from them, and revisit them with fresh loving eyes.
Self-love to me is honesty. It's about sharing these experiences with others, allowing them to see that they're not alone. It's allowing people to read about those dark places, and to share the light at the end of the story.
The light at the end of my story is that accepting yourself the way you are is possible. That celebrating yourself in this moment is a beautiful experience. So if you're ever feeling down, take some deep breaths. Give yourself some squishes. And remind yourself how fucking awesome you are.
Love and light, always,