Self love comes first

Rina Cakrani, Columnist

Illustration by Meg Cuca
Illustration by Meg Cuca

 Why is it so hard to love ourselves?

One of the things that surprised and concerned me the most during the Gender & Sexuality Workshop was when more than half of people in Jewett (the biggest residence hall at Whitman) admitted to having had or still having an eating disorder. This makes me think of how often we don’t realize how people are suffering and how they try to cope with these issues, despite having so many other things to worry about. Unfortunately, many don’t speak up about their situation and would only do so anonymously, out of the fear of being misjudged or labelled as ‘weak.’ This becomes a burden too heavy to carry.

As a society that is surrounded by images in the media of ‘The Perfect Body’ or ‘Your Guide to Losing Ten Pounds,’ it can be hard not to be self-conscious about your body. People’s comments or conversations about body and weight can be daunting too. Even if they might not be saying anything remotely misjudging or dangerous to hear, for some of us it can be kind of hard listening to this topic and if done repetitively it can lead to obsessive thoughts about our own body.

A significant problem that comes with this issue is the fact that many relate their physicality with their moral and personal worth. If they don’t achieve what by society is viewed as ‘the ideal size,’ then they feel guilty and shameful about it. They look into the mirror and they don’t like what they see. They are afraid other people will be critical to their ‘ugliness’ or ‘size’ too, and therefore have low self-esteem and poor social skills. They don’t feel like they are trying hard to change ‘their situation,’ they don’t yet feel ‘good enough.’ It seems like they are not only trying to achieve a personal goal, but also to please others.

This is a condition hard to come out of. That’s why I feel worried when I see that so many people in my residence hall have gone through it or are still trying to cope with it. Unfortunately, eating disorders are not issues that are usually addressed and are often passed in silence. And even when they are addressed, the problems don’t simply disappear.

My advice to those that are coping with this mental disorder would be to learn to love themselves, which sounds so easy to say and so hard to do. I know it is extremely difficult to learn how to love yourself. I have had friends who have been going through eating disorders and I have tried to make them understand that their bodies are simply vessels they carry throughout their lives, and that there are far more significant things about them that make them the unique people they are.

Learn how to not look at the size on the label when you buy clothes. Just buy the ones that you feel comfortable with and kill it when you wear them. Stay away from toxic people in general, but especially from those who are superficial and only talk about others appearances. Don’t let their comments affect you and your mental health. Surround yourself with people that make you laugh and make you feel loved for who you are and as you are. Engage in physical activities. Do something that makes you keep moving, but also have fun. This way you will feel stronger and better about yourself.

Prioritize becoming one million other things before aiming to become like that model you saw on Vogue. Aim to become benevolent, caring, clever, compassionate, confident, courageous, generous, hard-working, honest, humble, idealistic, independent, motivated, knowledgeable.

Aim to become the best you can be, and no matter how hard it sounds, no situation is bad enough to stop you from getting out of it.

And by the way, remember, the model on Vogue doesn’t even look like the model on Vogue!