I have received a lot of advice over the years. I am grateful enough to have many people in my life that care about me and want me to do well. Even if the advice itself wasn’t particularly great, I always knew that the person who gave it to me had the best intentions. I’m sure that a lot of the pieces of advice that I have received have influenced my life in some way or another. I can’t always discern which piece of advice got me where, because like I said there had been a lot, but there is one piece of advice that I remember with absolute clarity, because to this day it still influences me in the most positive ways. I remember when I got that piece of advice. I had just found out that I didn’t get into my dream college, and I called my half-sister crying. She must have said a million things to make me feel better, but it wasn’t until she was saying bye that she said, ‘…and T, remember to be kind to yourself.’
Be kind to yourself. It was a simple concept. It could mean that I should eat my favorite food or take a bubble bath or sleep in. That’s how I interpreted it when I was a teenager, and my biggest problem was not getting into the school I wanted. And I think that’s how my sister wanted me to interpret it back then too. But I think she always knew I would see it the way I see it now. I see the concept of being kind to yourself as the potential foundation to shift a culture that is built on women hating themselves and competing with each other to a culture of women loving themselves and empowering one another.
You may be thinking that I’m reading too much into her advice. But to me, it couldn’t be more obvious. Every day I see things in our culture that teach women to hate themselves. Billboards, magazines, commercials, TV shows, movies and advertisements all appeal to women’s insecurities about their body, their clothes, their face, their behavior, their personality, who they are as a person. All of them preach how to look, act, and be better, which perpetuates the idea that we are not good enough as we are. It also makes us inherently want to compete with women who do have these qualities that we are all ‘supposed’ to have. But what if we just said ‘fuck you’ to all the things that tear us down. What if we didn’t listen? What if we were kind to ourselves instead?
There are already so many voices coming from so many different sources that make us feel like shit about ourselves, why do we feel the need to add our voice to the mix? Ladies, if you didn’t get into the college of your dreams or if you didn’t get that job you wanted, or you got a bad grade, instead of shitting on yourself and making yourself feel even worse, accept it as one of the many mistakes you will make in your life, learn so you don’t make the mistake again, and then move on. We’re all going to fuck up in our lives; it doesn’t mean we have to be fuck ups. Accepting that you’re going to make mistakes and not torturing yourself for it is being kind to yourself.
If you want to wear a full face of makeup every day, then you should, and you should own every bit of highlighter and eyebrow gel you use. If you want to go out without a single drop of makeup on, do it and let any flaws that you think you may have become a part of what makes you unique. Allowing yourself to decide what makes you beautiful is being kind to yourself.
When you look at advertisements and magazines of models and celebrities with the same stick thin body type paired with perky boobs and an ass that was shaped by the Gods themselves, say ‘wow, she looks beautiful,’ and then close the magazine and go about your day. Don’t let what another woman looks like defining your mood, your day, or your happiness. If you want to workout every day for several hours, go work up that sweat. If you want to eat that third cheeseburger, then enjoy every juicy second of it. There’s a false rumor going around that all women can attain this one certain body type, and it makes those who can’t hate themselves. Realize that even those who genetically have the capability to attain that body type does not mean they are better than you. Having body-positivity is being kind to yourself.
There are so many aspects of our lives that we have the power to be kind to ourselves about. We have the power to have more confidence, to feel more beautiful, to be stronger, and with that, we also are able to empower one another. If one woman sees another woman being kind to herself, she will also want to be kind to herself, and she will show others that it’s okay to be kind to themselves. This small piece of advice has the power to change unrealistic views of women, to empower women and to let women empower one another.