Self-love is not selfish


By Kaanan Raja

Reapply your favorite scarlet lipstick, or hold a camera far above your head and snap away. Either way, you’ll likely get a scoff, and a “Who are you trying to impress?” to match. But this begs the question: Why can’t I just be trying to impress myself? 

It’s rare to hear people admit to doing something just to please themselves. Often these individuals are viewed as conceited or just plain “too into themselves.” For instance, if we catch someone taking a selfie in public, we automatically assume something about their character — usually narcissism.

It seems that society tends to write off examples of self-love such as dressing up for oneself, selfies and compliments towards oneself as selfishness. However, I think that we should start associating those acts with respect towards ourselves rather than a cry for attention. 

With the age of social networking, it’s no wonder that anything possibly self-motivating can be construed as an attempt to throw the spotlight on ourselves. We spend so much time documenting our lives to others through social media that the automatic assumption is anytime we praise ourselves in the public eye, we’re simply craving others’ attention rather than feeling personal pride.

Even the idea of possibly doing something beneficial to better our being can come across as selfish. In fact, when looking up the word “self-love” in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, one of the synonyms that comes up is “conceit.”

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That is far from the truth. 

Self-love does not have to mean gloating about yourself all day. The connotation of self-love shouldn’t be about putting yourself on a pedestal at the cost of not lending a hand to others. Rather, it should be about realizing your own needs and worth, and extending kindness towards yourself.

In a study done by Dove, it was found that while 72 percent of women felt tremendous pressure to be beautiful, only 11 percent of girls globally are comfortable using the word beautiful to describe themselves.

Since when did it become a cultural taboo to think highly of ourselves in any way?

Having pride in yourself isn’t even remotely narcissistic. Rather, it’s empowering. As a young girl who struggled with self-confidence issues similar to the girls in the study, I’m extremely proud of my friends and peers who have both the bravery and self-love to find beauty within themselves in a society that often condemns this behavior.

It’s taken a fairly long time for me to finally accept my large, square teeth and way-too-big-for-me glasses. But once I did, I cleaned all the smudges off my full-length mirror so I would never miss another thing about myself.

We shouldn’t dismiss those who have found the resilience to express self-love as conceited, whether they’re strutting in unpractical new shoes or finally taking pride in their body size through a simple Instagram photo.

Instead, we should support those who have made the courageous decision of continuing to show their love for themselves no matter how petty we think those acts may be. And perhaps we could integrate this self-love into our own lives with everything from an extra helping of ice cream to a morning pep talk.

With airbrushed billboards and manipulated photos of celebrities in magazines surrounding us every day, it can actually become dangerous when we associate acts of self-respect as trifling matters.

It’s dangerous because some people have taken years, if not decades, to build up the self-esteem they had long lost due to criticisms they constantly heard.

Therefore, acts such as taking selfies and spending time on how we look, no matter how trivial they seem, should not be looked down upon. Instead, they should be respected as small outlets of expression and empowerment for those who don’t live up to the ridiculous standards we’re all held to. They should be seen as ways for us to celebrate ourselves and the everyday humdrum of existing.

Our bodies are our homes, and it’s time we stop burning others’ down and start appreciating our own.

Kaanan is a freshman in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].