The Self-Love Indoctrination Of Generation Z

The Self-Love Indoctrination of Generation Z

Self-love doesn't always come easy.

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Odds are, if you're a young woman on a college campus, someone you know has preached to you about how you just gotta love yourself.

It's the cure-all, right? Just do it. Just look in the mirror and just… love it. Your life, your day, your body, your smile, your job… just do it! It's honestly simple.

That's what I feel like when I go on social media or talk to friends or even just live on a university campus. I'm fortunate… I only have the typical internal image struggles of a young woman where I feel like I could be a little skinnier or maybe be better at makeup. Just everyday things that I see as personal imperfections. Not everyone feels that way, though.

So what about the girl who looks in the mirror and instead of a groggy, coffee-less student on a Monday morning, she sees her depression. Or her failed test. Or her anxiety. Or her break-up. Or whatever is a little bigger than herself at that moment. What about the girl that had to pull herself out of bed? That feels the pressure of her family's hopes for her future? That is stuck under the crippling claw of an eating disorder?

What about her? What about them?

Do they just… love themselves?

Now, don't get me wrong -- self-love is crucial. It will amplify, build, and empower any generation of women, forever. It's crucial we embrace who we are, how our voices sound on this Earth, and how we can discover, serve, lead, and learn. Self-love is important.

But how do we get there? How do we love ourselves, and how do we teach girls growing up what it means to love yourself?

Some days, maybe we can just look in the mirror and fall head over heels with the women we are.

But some days are a lot harder. No matter your circumstance, life can be difficult and sometimes, it takes more than the proclamation, belief, and words that pronounce a love for our own person.

On these days, and most days, I believe self-care is about action. Taking action for you, in a way that makes sense for you.

I'm a firm believer that not everyone can just believe they love themselves. Sometimes it takes more than that.

In the past 3 months this concept has been eating me alive, and when I hear people act like self-love is simply a choice, I'm frustrated for the girls that it's harder for.

Sometimes I have my hard days, too. For these days, we have to find what works for us. And these skills I've learned from the best women and men in my life while figuring out some on my own.

It's not always about a face mask, a bubble bath, or your favorite dessert. A new book, a Netflix binge, or a trip to the beach won't always fix it all for you.

If you can manage it, here are some of the things I'd recommend to get yourself going, to get a smile on your face, or to simply feel okay:

Set aside time for your morning routine. I try to build it into my day, setting a good chunk of time to getting ready. Whether you dress up or down for school or work, or you go full-face or no makeup, taking that time to listen to music or watch a show while you put yourself together makes you feel like you have at least one thing in control.

Drink water. I know, this seems dietary. But it helps you feel energized, helps with your overall health, and makes you feel so much better. Get your favorite bottle and consider it an accomplishment if you finish it!

Add something to your outfit -- a favorite ring you never wear, a necklace on some days, or a nice blouse on a Friday. Spice it up so you have something to look forward to and something exciting on more difficult days.

Cook your meals when you have time. It takes your mind off of everything going on and often takes you down a healthier path when you decide on more ingredients. It's fun and often therapeutic.

Set aside a day to clean your space and organize your bag(s). Picking this day will allow you not to worry about a mess you might not have time for during a busy week.

Understand the importance of rest. Take time off from your studies, go to bed before an exam, and understand that your body needs fuel not to just work and get around, but to think.

Work to be patient with yourself and take baby steps. Accomplishments aren't always large -- they can be small. And if you can't make it happen that day, remind yourself to believe in the power of tomorrow.

It's not easy to love yourself. But by taking action to take care of yourself, you might fall a little more in love with your life and how you feel, building up your ability to embrace who you are. You can't simply will self-love, especially when it's more of an uphill battle in your heart. Take care of you, work to find a way to make it through a day, and in thanking yourself for patience and care, love for that girl in the mirror will follow.

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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Stand In The Mirror

An exercise in self-love.

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If you're reading this, then I want you to stop what you're doing right now, get up from wherever you're sitting, and go stand in the mirror.

Yes, that's right. Close your laptops, put down your phones, and walk to the closest bathroom, or vanity, or wherever else you can see your reflection the most clearly. Pretend like you're the only person in the world for a little while.

Are you there? Good.

Now I want you to look at yourself, very closely.

Start with your eyes. How beautiful they look underneath the light; you can see all their colors, just like a painting! Something that unique belongs in an art museum, don't you think?

Those eyes of yours have seen so many wonderful things. Think of all the sunsets they've allowed you to witness, all the times your best friends have grinned from ear-to-ear and all the books you've read.

Now, look at your lips. Think of all the lovely people they may have kissed, all the Thanksgiving dinners they've touched and all the funny faces they've helped you express.

Think all of the times they've opened to exude laughter and joy, to express awe and other associated feelings words cannot express.

Now it's time to examine your arms. Shrug your shoulders and admire the way they fall so gently at your sides, like water flowing from the mouth of a river. Think of all the wonderful things they've helped you to reach, of all the trees they've helped you climb and monkey bars they've helped you swing through. Think of all the people they've hugged, and all the dogs they've helped you pet.

Finally, move to your legs. Think of all the races they've helped you win, all the hurdles they've helped you jump through and all the lengths they've helped you swim.

Think of all the pristine places they've carried you to, and reflect upon all the places you'll soon be heading to.

Can't you see now that you're a masterpiece, dripping with color and beauty, emotion and experience, from every fiber of your being?

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