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Mariana Plata


4 Reasons Why Self-Love Is Political

Self-love is so much more than Netflix & chill.

Source: Unsplash

It was the great Audre Lorde (who would've turned 85 years old this past February 18), a poet and feminist writer, who once said, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

I remember the first time I heard this phrase, it struck me. But, there was something about it I did not understand completely: What does she mean by political warfare? Why? What does self-love have to do with politics?

And, as I normally proceed when tackling these questions, I started doing my research. I read about the relationship between self-love and feminism, the self-love protests orchestrated by second-wave feminists such as Flo Kennedy and Gloria Steinem, and something called "radical self-love." And, then, I stumbled upon this quote by Caroline Caldwell:

"In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act."

And then I finally understood why self-love is a political act. Because we are conditioned to aspire to beauty ideals (standardized by the male gaze), to have unhealthy relationships with our bodies and with ourselves, to reject the concept of "aging gracefully" and stocking up on anti-wrinkle and anti-aging creams.

We are conditioned to enter a war with our bodies and with ourselves. And that's why loving ourselves is revolutionary. That's why loving ourselves is a political act. Here are 4 reasons to help you look at it from this perspective:

Society benefits (monetarily) from our insecurities.

Have you ever wondered what would happen to beauty companies if women loved themselves? What would happen to aesthetic clinics and weight-loss products? They'd go bankrupt, and that is most certainly not sustainable. Because of this, their entire marketing scheme is to make us feel insecure so we keep purchasing their products.

I'm not saying it's not okay to splurge or purchase a blush or lipstick every once in a while — it would be hypocritical for me to say this since I enjoy a trip to Sephora every now and then. But when we depend on these products to feel good about ourselves, it might be because there's something else going on internally. The more we love ourselves, the more aware we can become of why we make these purchases.

The more dependent, insecure and submissive we are, the less likely we are to raise our voice.

Historically, society has been setting up traps to prevent women from using our voice. From the moment when we were denied access to education, up until the moment we fought for our right to vote. Having a voice and using it individually is not dangerous on its own, but when we use it collectively we can start to create ripples throughout society. And that is dangerous. The more we love ourselves, the less afraid we become of voicing our concerns and fighting for what we deserve.

We can start to identify the need for feminist public policies.

Consequently, the more we love ourselves, the more confidence we gain — in our abilities, our rights, our opinions, our thoughts. And when this happens, we can start actively seeking information about the ways in which society succeeds or fails in protecting us. These are called feminist public policies — laws and policies that favor women because they promote us to the same social, economic, or political level to men. And we all know what the patriarchy thinks about that.

The more we love ourselves, the less threatened we are by other women.

Juliet Mitchell, a feminist psychoanalyst, said, "Women against women is the patriarchy's trap." Patriarchal society's sneaky trap is pitting us against each other, so we don't notice all the ways in which they keep putting us at a disadvantage.

The more we compete with one another or see other women as a threat, the less energy we have to direct towards those situations that society needs to change. However, the more self-love we practice, the less need we have to compete (therefore, increasing collaborations and that sense of sisterhood between one another). Giving us plenty of energy and time to fight against those situations and behaviors that oppress us.

Had you ever thought of self-love as a political act? What do you think about this? Let me know in the comments below.


About the Author

Mariana Plata is a psychologist, educator, and mental health writer based in Panama.