Why are we so afraid to love ourselves? Montreal Boudoir Photographer

I have asked women many times if they love themselves. The majority of the time the response I get is that they wish they did, or it’s a complete shutdown, a firm no, like if they even think about the possibility of loving or accepting themselves, something terrible will happen to them.

What is that fear about? Why are we so afraid to love ourselves?

Well I believe that this stems from two things: What we are taught about ourselves, and what we think it means to love ourselves.

What are we taught about ourselves?

I can only come at this from my own perspective, as well as the perspective of the many women I have photographed, but if you were taught something different, please comment below and tell me about it.

When we were young we were taught that we were sugar and spice and everything nice, that we were fragile and soft and delicate (and if we weren’t we were either made to feel weird about it, or just treated like a boy “oh she is just one of the guys”) We were taught that our bodies and how they look matter. We were taught to obsess over things like cellulite, or skin rolls, we were taught to hate any ounce of fat on our bodies, and that we should compare our body to our friends’ bodies or the bodies on magazines and rate ourselves against that. We were taught to value our beauty or lack thereof, but at the same time taught not to be vain. In fact if we saw someone who loved herself and was confident, or if we felt she was more beautiful than us, we were taught to make her feel less confident and less beautiful. We were taught to value how our bodies looked, and not on how they worked, or how they felt. We were taught that there was a standard, and if we deviated from that standard we were somehow wrong.

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We have all of these emotions, and values and traits that are SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR SIZE… but we are “made wrong”, so all of that should mean nothing?
 

Think about that for a second… something that we could not control: the shape and size of our body… and we were being judged on that which we had no control? We have all of these emotions, and values and traits that are SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR SIZE… but we are “made wrong”, so all of that should mean nothing?

What does it mean to love yourself?

Is it vanity? Is it being full of yourself? Is it thinking I actually look nice today, only to hear your coworker whisper to the woman next to her saying “who does she think she is? She is too FAT for that skirt”?

No. it is understanding you are so much more than what your body looks like. Your beauty resonates from within. And you know that is true because there are people in this world that ADORE you. It’s recognizing that your worth lies within your core values and morals, the things that ONLY YOU can control. It is looking in the mirror and seeing your eyes smile, not because you finally see your outer beauty, but because you can see your inner beauty shining from within.

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Loving and accepting yourself is a GIFT. More than that, it is a RIGHT. When you are ready to love yourself you will be unstoppable. Because instead of building all these walls and obstacles you will have the open road. When life throws something your way, like your coworkers comment above, you will smile because you know the secret.

You know what it is to love yourself. And you are longer afraid.

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We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.
— CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
 
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