You could say self-love is on trend as of late.
Kind of like the way kale is on trend.
It’s found at nearly every Instagram post, Ted talk and corner you turn. Though... it may have a more long-standing presence - like the avocado toast. It is quite versatile and can be jazzed up about 17 different ways, and then some.
Currently, 10,000 people google "Am I ugly?" every month (no lie), while the rest of us would rather take selfies than ask the blatant question (indirect questions - it's how most women communicate, in case you're wondering.) For as much good there is in social networks, they have become platforms for us to weigh our self-worth and brand a unique identity, which has increased insecurity and lowered self-esteem for many across the board.
Though there are several companies using their influence to change this. Campaigns such as the Dove's Real Beauty or ArieReal, promising to advertise with untouched photos, focus on instilling a positive self-image for a society that is visually riveted on a contrived concept of beauty and perfection for both sexes. And these campaigns are just the cream of a crop working to instill a better sense of self in us all. Another message, that is given as much attention as global humanitarian efforts, is telling us we don't love ourselves enough. To oppose an overwhelming search for identity and purpose, self-love is the very message prescribed from psychologists, sung of at the top of the charts and advocated to pacify any souls less than happy with themselves.
Self-love has become the answer to our search for happiness.
Though, to instill a true confidence or better self-image, I question if this self-love, morning-pep-talk-in-a-mirror "You got it, girl" philosophy, are what we need to find this happiness we seek. I'm just not so sure that this kind of love is all it is cracked up to be…
There may be more than one hole in this idea of Self-Love:
1. Loving yourself will lead you to success
In his New York Times Best-Seller, The Road to Character, New York Times columnist, David Brooks, explores the idea that we have lost the element of character in our lives. Brooks believes, due to our society's focus on self-love, a loss of character and morality in our lives causes us to miss out on a richer life. (Mind you, our idea of a richer life is rather skewed to begin with.)
Brooks depicts, in an overview of culture in just the past 50 years, how our focus of self has evolved, as our "moral compass" has dissolved. "To find fulfillment and success in the workforce, we now are a culture that needs to brand itself, to create a distinct identity, in order to find happiness."
Not only are we more self-focused, but we're more self-assured. Though this doesn't mean we're better for it. In his book, Brooks notes:
In global math performance America ranks at 36%.
When American students are asked if they are good at math, we are #1 in the world in thinking we’re good at math. When, in fact, South Koreans are #1 in math performance.
Yet when asked of their performance level, South Koreans say they are the lowest, believing they are the worst in math.
When focused on loving ourselves (as if that isn't already innate within us; a prominent concern and preoccupation with self) our idea of success - a life worth living - is ultimately self-focused. But when our quality of life is set on pleasing ourselves first and foremost, it causes an inability to learn, to give and to move with the changes that life will ultimately throw in our way. We miss out on a characteristic that was once considered a virtue: humility.
Contrary to self-love, Brooks was tell us: Humility is not low self-confidence, it's low self-preoccupation.
2. #LoveMyself - No, I don't need anybody else
From a sexual point alone (assuming your heads were already there), it comes as no surprise to us that we are a self-gratifying culture, in terms of our physical desires. With the message of self-love comes the concept of self-gratification, where companionship is no longer a necessity.
But do we really want to believe this? That a love without another person is what we really need to be fulfilled (when ironically this act of "love", so to speak, fills literally nothing.)
As this abrupt topic is on a new brink of honesty and exploration for the female sex ( maybe in an attempt to catch up with the opposite sex) I wonder if this whole idea is attractive among young women because it plays out in their minds like some glamorized music video and is a turn-on to men. We are encouraged to be the satisfiers of our own desires and wants. This act of self-service is viewed today as a natural and necessary part of a healthy lifestyle, one where your needs are not repressed. Yet it dismisses the greater purpose in this delicate part of our lives, that is meant to be engaged with someone else. To keep in line with a love that is completely self-sufficient, our sexuality is considered removed from the rest of our lives. It is considered separate from the emotional, relational and spiritual part of us. Which rather disengages the whole idea of holistic health, if you ask me. Rather, intimacy in self-love is chalked up to being sufficed in this solo act.
3. If You Don’t Love Yourself Right, No One Will
Self-love offers a love that knows you already. One that knows what you need. That knows what you want. There is nothing and no one to discover. Because you know you and what you want. But it leave much wanting.
There is a great deal of mystery lost in this.
As much as our American human psyches like the idea of being solely independent, the human soul is made to be interdependent. Unless you’re a narcissist, the majority of us naturally feel less than whole without the daily involvement of others in our lives. Which is only natural. We were made to need others and to be needed.
Self-Love would encourage us to love ourselves when and how we want to be loved. Because, obviously, having what we want, when we want it must be the best thing for us, at least that's what Food Inc. would tell us, (insert *sarcasm* for those of you taking me too seriously.) Of course, we can see how American's have greatly benefitted from this philosophy in our economy and health, alone.
Which must be why parents always give their kids a lollipop every time they ask for one.
Self-love will always encourage us to be concerned with ourselves first and foremost, to find fulfillment in life, a more satisfied marriage and assurance that our hearts can't be harmed because their ours to love and protect... till death do us part. Which, as studies show, just might be what bring death a little quicker than the average anyhow.
Not sure if you've heard yet, but it turns out too much kale might not be good for you.