A piece of "advice" so often thrown around is that "you need to love yourself because how else can you expect people to love you". In our world, we've continuously grown into a self-care culture where we constantly promote our own well-being. While this is great, the implications of this have some undertones that we either aren't seeing or don't want to see. Many industries are jumping on this bandwagon and celebrating self-love and mental health, yet still, it seems fake and off-handed.
It's now become trendy to love yourself, to the point where admitting your insecurities is no longer taboo, but instead makes you "uncool" or out of the mainstream. In a world where we swear by yoga and face mask treatments to get us through our day, we forget that loving yourself isn't as easy as this marketing and current trends seem to make it out to be.
That's where the concept of loving yourself so that others will love you is born from. This narrative has been twisted in other ways. In some ways, it says that you can't love others unless you love yourself and in other ways, it says people won't love you if you don't love yourself. Both of these mentalities are intertwined and overly toxic.
RuPaul even says in their song "If you can't love yourself, how in the Hell you gonna love somebody else?"
This sort of narrative paints those struggling with their own self-image as some monster who is incapable of love. The truth is to love yourself despite your flaws, you must learn to love others despite theirs. And then you'll have a realization that you are no different than them and that you, too, deserve love. Much of the time the very people we are labeling with this gruesome monster label are the ones struggling with mental illness. In an extended way, this narrative continues to stigmatize the mentally ill. It also plays part in the narrative that self-love is a choice when the truth is that for many people their illnesses prevent them from taking part in that choice.
Loving others openly and candidly is how you learn to love yourself. By learning to see both the good and bad in people and finding ways to learn to love them is what shows your humanity and sometimes it's that humanity that we need to allow to apply to ourselves.
Self-love is a slow process and no one should be made to feel bad about not being able to get there right away. You are loved, you are worthy of love and respect, and you can be loved even on the days when you see nothing in yourself to love.