I saw a piece of graffiti the other day that really annoyed me.
It doesn’t happen often but this one had a judgmental tone I didn’t care for. I wish I’d taken a snap now but it fucked me off so much I stomped away before doing so, then thought about writing this post afterwards. D’oh!
The piece was small, amateurish and said something along the lines of: “Love and respect yourself before someone else can love and respect you.”
Look, I get the sentiment of it. I’m all for the self-love rhetoric and believe wholeheartedly in the art of being kind to yourself, loving your own body, mind and soul. I’ve more than once posted inspirational memes to this effect.
However, I’m starting to realise how problematic this way of thinking is. I mean, was I the perfect specimen when I met my husband? You’ve got to be shitting me. I was coming out of a very dark, destructive relationship in which I considered suicide and very much did not love myself.
Loving who I am has come ever since that relationship and is an ongoing project. It will never be finished and so what? I’m more than happy to dedicate the rest of my life to loving myself as much as I can and maintaining that.
To suggest that someone is not deserving of love until they’re at peace with themselves is pretty shitty when you think about it. Love and acceptance can go hand in hand and I’m not saying you have to be validated by another human to be happy in yourself, nor do you have to be with anybody at all. You don’t have to be fixed or happy all the time, loving yourself is a great idea and I support it but it’s not for everybody all the time. Think about it, is it not just another impossible ideal we’re being pushed toward?
You have to love yourself! You have to respect yourself! You have to be confident! You have to be sassy!
What if I’m two of those things today, none of them tomorrow and all of them but the last one on Sunday? If I don’t hit my self-love quota will my love license be revoked? Will I go straight to the bottom of the pile in terms of love and respect from others?
What is self-respect anyway? One woman’s sleazy is another woman’s empowerment so fuck off, alright?
Love yourself by all means but don’t beat yourself up when you don’t. Be as kind to yourself as you can but don’t feel you can’t have down days, can’t just be. You are worthy of love all the time and not just magically when you’ve passed the self-love bar and received your self-respect certificate in the post.
I can safely say that this piece of graffiti was not supposed to evoke such a reaction in me but it has. Call me sensitive if you like but my very badly constructed argument still stands.