I’m a poet. Or a poetess (the label I prefer). Through my words I try to preach the idea of unapologetic self-love—especially to women. Our uniqueness, our humanity, our creativity, our self-esteem, our sexual orientations, our romantic orientations, our bodily autonomy, our independence—none of those things are given any weight. We’re told nothing else matters except the way we look. And at the end of the day, we end up believing these ideas and hating ourselves—and even other women—for not being able to fit into the small box society has offered us.
One of the goals with my poetry is to unravel this normalized hatred of women’s bodies.
But I have a confession: I’ve avoided mirrors for more than half my life.
At the time this is being written, I’m 25. I’ve had an undiagnosed eating disorder since I was 11. First, I restricted food until I reached a dangerously low weight. Next, the binge-eating started and I gained a significant amount back. Then, I became obsessed with only consuming raw fruits and vegetables, causing the number on the scale to dwindle down again. (At that point in my life, I was having recurring nightmares about eating a single potato chip.) The cycle continued, flip-flopping between bingeing and gaining to restricting and losing.
As of now? I’m at my highest weight ever.
Sure, some days I’m a little unhappy with myself. And you know what? I’ve allowed myself to be. Not because I’m fat (which isn’t the dirty word we’ve made it out to be), but because I’ve had to work through a lot of self-hatred and wishing I didn’t even have a body to deal with—and that’s not an overnight process. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting.
I’ve spent years trying to unlearn my destructive habits, not just in the form of eating disorders but in the act of outward self-injury when I felt I had failed myself by not being skinny and desireable.
So at this point, I consider any percentage of love I’m able to give to myself a success.
Confession time again: I love myself now more than ever before. Yes, more so than when my torso and thighs were at their most minimal existence. I’ve been told that ‘Skinniness isn’t a synonym for happiness.’ Turns out it’s true.
My desirability in the eyes of others is not the same as being desirable. In fact, my desirability in the eyes of others doesn’t matter at all. How I see myself is what matters. But I do have to remind myself of that on a daily basis.
Because self-love is nothing if not a lifelong pursuit, and even when I think I’ve finally reached the ultimate destination (hoo-ray!), I still find myself wandering away from time to time. And that’s okay. I’m not a disappointment. I’m human. And it’s human nature to stray, to have flaws. It’s not human nature to be perfect in your practices all the time.
Don’t ever tell yourself you’ve lost the self-love game because you woke up feeling so awful about yourself that you didn’t want to leave your bed. Things like that happen to even the most well-seasoned self-love preachers.
Trying to love yourself in a world that tells you you aren’t worth loving as you are is a constant battle. As humans, we can’t simply control our moods or emotions. The only thing you can do is allow yourself to feel those raw, honest feelings. Recognize why you’re having them, move on, and promise to love yourself better when you wake up tomorrow—as many “tomorrows” as it takes to get there.
And you will get there.
Amanda is a published author and recent graduate. Her book “the princess saves herself in this one” won the Goodreads Choice Award in 2016 and is available for purchase on Amazon here. The work is described as “a collection of poetry about resilience. It is about writing your own ending.”