I regularly have girls approaching me saying things like “I’m so jealous of how confident you are, Peach!” and “I wish I loved myself like you do – teach me!” And I do love to tutor people in the art of self-acceptance, showing them how to fall in love with themselves. With my confidence coaching I help girls to foster positivity and self-care in their lives and relationships. However, one myth that I always need to dispel is the idea that self-love and self-confidence is a destination. You put in XYZ work, practice some techniques and BAM you are body confident and ready to rock the world – that is it and you are done *dusts off hands*. This is simply not the case, self-love and self-confidence is an ongoing journey, and you need to work consistently to invest time in yourself to maintain this.
I have been having a pretty crap time on the self-love front this week. My skin has been pretty bad – a combination of a change in the weather, hormones, and diet. I haven’t wanted to leave the house without makeup at all, which is a problem because I refuse to work out whilst wearing makeup as I just know it would make things worse. I want to go to the gym, but the break out is making me want to curl up at home and wait until it has cleared up instead – “What if I bump into someone I know?” “I can’t be seen without makeup like this.” “Oh God, I look hideous!”. This is SO not like me… How can this fierce and fearless woman be too scared to leave the house because of some goddam zits?!
It is easy for me to love myself on the days when I fit neatly into the definition of what society accepts as beautiful, when I feel slim, when my skin is clear, and my hair looks good, and my face looks beautiful in my carefully applied makeup. Self-love is pretty easy for me most days, because I’m lucky that I fit into these standards – I’m white, I’m petite, I’m feminine – and I’ve spent years building up my self-esteem so that it is strong and resilient 80% of the time. The real challenge of self-love comes when you have a day (or days, or weeks, or months, or a life time) when you don’t fit into those ridiculously narrow standards that society imposes upon us – when I’ve gained a few pounds on holiday, or when I’ve broken out in spots, or my hair is 6 months late for a hair cut and looks like a nest of angry birds have taken residence on my head. For other women it is nothing so minor; it is the colour of their skin, the size of their thighs, the shape of their face. We have to battle against these restrictions. And I know, it is hard – it is so f*cking hard! If a few zits on my face can make me feel this way, when I already work on my self-confidence and self-love, then the battle we face as women as a whole is so monumental.
This is why I say that self-love is a journey, not a destination, because our levels of confidence fluctuate and there are times when we are challenged in our self-acceptance. There are times when the cacophony of voices of the world around us ring louder in our heads than the positive affirmations we whisper to ourselves – “You are too tall / too short / too fat / too thin / not feminine enough / too sexy / not sexy enough… etc etc”. We can struggle to drown these out sometimes, and no one can be blamed for this – it doesn’t mean you have ‘failed’ in your self-love mission.
Working on your self-confidence is important – and it doesn’t matter how closely you fit (or don’t fit) into this ridiculous mould, you CAN love yourself. It is possible! Part of this journey is accepting parts of yourself that you are not happy with, because you have been conditioned to hate them. I’m not saying you have to fall in love with those parts of yourself, but I do believe you need to come to peace with them. I don’t need to love my oily skin and occasional break outs in order to love myself, but I DO need to accept them as part of who I am. This is why I am sat here with a face mask on whilst I write this post, and this is why I will walk into that gym tomorrow with zero makeup and even fewer apologies. If someone judges me for having a few blemishes on my face then it says more about their character than it does about mine!
I know there are things that can knock our confidence, things that feel too much to accept, but please try, please join me in facing your own fears. Wear that body-con dress, rock that short ‘masculine’ hair style, go out into the world makeup free for a day. Make small steps to challenge yourself, and little by little you can begin to make peace with those ‘faults’ that society wants you to hate. Join me in this journey towards self-acceptance and self-love, a journey that is rich, and complicated, and emotional, but rewarding. Trust me, the effort is so worth it.