Self-Love Is Not an Obligation, So Stop Preaching It

by Whitney Teal

Self-Love Is Not an Obligation, So Stop Preaching It “You just have to accept your body. You may not love it all the way, but you just have to be comfortable with it…,” reads a quote attributed to Rihanna.

With all due respect, Rihanna, fuck off. And to everyone else constantly sprouting thoughtless, meaningless “love your body, love yourself”  jargon without nuance, please do the same.

That’s everyone’s problem, right? That we just don’t love ourselves enough? No. The reality is that we don’t all have equal access to self-love, just like we don’t have equal access to anything—from food to education to fresh air.

What you look like, how you grew up and what resources you’re working with directly affect what you can reasonably be expected to do, including loving your appearance. A thin, light-skinned black woman with light eyes and enough money to keep the straight weaves flowing and the pores cleaned out cannot, in any way, understand how hard it is to “just be comfortable” with yourself when you’re fat, dark-skinned, pimply, visibly disabled, obviously gay or trans or a part of any of the other groups of people that we all actively oppress each day. If you’re some combination of more than one of those groups? Lord help you in any quest for mainstream affirmation of “loving yourself.”

Now, I am absolutely not suggesting that people who aren’t mainstream beautiful can’t love themselves and be happy. I’m not inviting everyone to a “woe is me, little dark/fat/nappy-headed/acne-riddled/etc” pity party. I fit into a lot of those categories and I don’t hate the way I look—some days I even love it.

What I’m saying is that this constant, flimsy, one-size-fits-all push for acceptance is thin. It’s weak. It’s annoying at best and insincere at worst. Instead of telling me to love my “flaws,” stop telling me they’re bad and undesirable in the first place. My fat? Tell me that stuff’s amazing, don’t tell me to love it out of one side of your mouth and then diss women who look like me out the other side.

The problem, dear people who are fond of motivational sayings, is not that people don’t have the mental will to access some elusive well of self-love. Instead, the real problem is that you, your mother and your cousin, too, spend all day, every day affirming that some people have every reason to love the way they look (i.e. Rihanna) and that other people have no business doing the same (i.e. people who look more like Gabourey Sidibe, whose looks all of you happily dissed when Kanye West rapped, “my bitch make your bitch look like Precious.”)

A $60 billion weight loss industry and a $170 billion cosmetics industry—not to mention the influence of magazines, television shows, films and music—valiantly combine to ensure we all hate every dimple, pimple, roll, stretch mark, wrinkle and pore.

I call it victim-blaming. How dare you, fat, dark-skinned woman with nappy hair, not love yourself the way some thin, white woman with straight hair is apparently able to? It’s no matter that your image, when it’s ever spotted in media or referenced in music, is maligned and deemed pungent on its face. It’s no matter that every encounter with mainstream culture tells you that you’re wrong and different. You are just not trying hard enough to accept yourself, damnit!

No, no, no.

The problem isn’t a lack of self-love. Or a lack of the will required to love yourself. We all need to acknowledge the power and privilege aspect of acceptance that’s at work every time each of us looks in the mirror, goes shopping for clothes or posts a selfie on Instagram. We all should, if we’re concerned with acceptance, work to make a world where all bodies and states of appearance are accepted, loved and regarded with respect.

That’s not the world we currently live in, though, and it’s not helping anyone to keep preaching self-love and self-respect and self-confidence and all kinds of stuff that actually has nothing to do with self, but everything to do with y’all.

For those of you all sure to protest that you’ve learned to love your non-traditionally attractive appearance, or to point to the token celebrities who are beautiful members of a maligned group (“Kelly Rowland!” “Queen Latifah!”), we’re not actually talking about one-off examples here.

We’re talking about how we are all indoctrinated into seeing some people as better, and for women that means more beautiful—thinner, possessing a certain body proportion, more reminiscent of white people’s skin color and hair texture, able-bodied, etc. Whether you individually believe this message almost doesn’t matter—there are too many out there that do and those people affect how you and your appearance navigate society.

Does anyone, theoretically, have the personal will and resolve to love the way they look, regardless of how they look? Absolutely. Just like everyone, theoretically, can become a millionaire, even though we all (should) know about the systemic barriers to financial success that start in childhood and continue throughout the public education system and criminal justice system that make it much more difficult for people of some groups to achieve the same goal as people of other groups.

If we understand this theory as it plays out in other aspects of our lives, why are we so hell-bent on discarding it and preaching self-love and self-acceptance anyway? We would do better working to eliminate the systemic barriers to self-love that are present for a lot of us, than constantly sprouting affirmations and meaningless jargon about self-acceptance.

And, if we’re being honest, the same ones of you preaching about loving yourself are the main ones doing everything in your power to uphold the current system of beauty capital. All of those “bitches/chicks/girls be like…” Instagram images that are essentially created to show one person’s beauty over another person’s apparent ugliness? All of those Facebook status updates about “getting right?” All of the times you’ve snuck a picture of a fat person or an old person or a person you thought was ugly and posted it somewhere for your friends to mock? Yeah, you. You’re part of the problem.

Stop telling me to love my flaws. Instead, try to stop constantly telling me they’re wrong from the onset.

  • Kaeli

    We are all entitled to our own opinion but I must say I disagree with everything about this article.

    We actually do all have equal access to self-love. We don’t all share the same journey to get there and some might have more of a struggle getting their but it is attainable for all. The journey to self-love is INTERNAL. It’s about listening to people telling you you arent good enough and having a deep knowing that their opinion matters less than your own.

    Good luck to you on your journey. This article shows that you might be stuggling. Keep moving forward and you will get there.

  • http://gravatar.com/missinformation7 Ms. Information

    This was uninspiring and depressing, no thanks.

  • Elyse

    Why are you so angry? This rant was entirely too long not to have any good points. Let’s all send some love this authors way. Now “woooosahhh”, and love yourself LOL

  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    People can and should love themselves and think highly of self.
    You can actually love yourself AND do things to improve self.
    Evolving, elevating, and refining all throughout.

  • JS

    I sense a lot of unneeded bitterness from this post. The truth is regardless of society’s standards, how much you weigh, or how everyone views your lifestyle, it has little to do with how you actually view yourself. Everyone, including society, could be saying that you are perfect but since self-love is something that takes place in your mind no one can change that but yourself. Hence all the supermodels, and society labeled “gorgeous” people out there with eating disorders and depression. It is not easier to love yourself just because others do. That is a “grass is greener on the other side” myth. Of course other’s can put you down and make you feel bad about yourself, but it happens regardless of you loving yourself.

    I’ve dropped 35lbs. I went from a size 14-12 to a size 6. Everyone told me how good I look, etc, etc, but it didn’t matter because I was hung up on myself still not being perfect enough. I honestly felt worse than I did about myself before I lost the weight. I realized self-love isn’t about “loving flaws.” You could still want to improve yourself, by loosing weight, clearing up skin, plastic surgery etc. However when you really accept yourself, it frees you a bit. Of course you will always compare yourself to others, it’s human nature, and have days when you feel bad. Although. I know I’m no supermodel, I can honestly say I don’t care. When you stop wishing to be something else than you are it’s the greatest feeling ever. Honestly that did not come for me until I started taking martial arts and dance classes that allowed me to connect with my body past a superficial level of appearance. However, it comes differently for everyone.

  • PrincessDi

    “A thin, light-skinned black woman with light eyes and enough money to keep the straight weaves flowing and the pores cleaned out cannot, in any way, understand how hard it is to “just be comfortable” with yourself when you’re fat, dark-skinned…”

    What the hell? Why is the author equating dark skin with negativity. I have beautiful, dark skin and wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, my skin is one of the features I LOVE about myself.

  • Chacha

    But the thing is that the average person is going to have someone tell them that they are ugly, or not good enough, or not smart enough, not thin enough, or too dark, etc. That’s life. Unfortunately, some people get it worse, but again, that’s just life. And you either dislike yourself or learn to love and appreciate yourself despite what people say. For some people, that comes with time or age. You can’t rely on the whole world to support your self esteem.

    And I doubt people who take those People of Walmart-type photos are the same ones saying that you should love yourself.

  • nakira

    This article is as real as it get. Yes I do love myself. But a lot of ppl struggle to find something abt themselves to like. And society doesn’t make it any easier for them, by telling they have to love yourself while we make u the butt of our jokes

  • http://gravatar.com/eynapanirb B.Payne

    The author of this downer should’ve kept this on her personal blog.

  • http://www.lovetrenia.com Trenia

    I don’t completely disagree, and I think this article brings up an important point about needing to be seen and validated. But the truth is self-love is ultimately an inside job. Regardless of who didn’t love us a child, didn’t tell us we were pretty enough, being fat, having acne, whatever, we’re all ultimately responsible for being on the path to loving ourselves. The other truth is that it’s not fair. It’s not fair that some little girls got all of the love and compliments as a child, in addition to all of the physical traits that society sees as beautiful. We are all responsible for loving ourselves, while simultaneously making it clear another’s role in our problem without relinquishing the very hard work we’ll all have to do to heal and love ourselves.

    I would recommend a media diet. Ditch the magazines, TV, even social media for a while, and you may need to stop talking to certain people so that you can stop pouring in all of the things that make you feel bad. It’s very difficult to begin a self-love journey if you continue to ingest all of the things that make you feel bad about yourself and the way you look. But I want you to know that I see you, and I hear you.

  • march pisces

    the author is caught up in to much of what others think instead of what she thinks of herself. do you! be you! never mind what another’s opinion is of you.

    i totally agree with JS “…when you really accept yourself, it frees you a bit.”

  • black_feminist

    I appreciate this article – very thoughtful and inspiring! I hear bell hooks’ voice in this – challenging us to be radical enough to reimagine a world in which all bodies are loved and accepted :)

  • Guest1234

    ” having a deep knowing that their opinion matters less than your own.”

    This! This is exactly what the author is missing. She presumes that the opinions of others and the dictates of society are absolute, empirical, indisputable TRUTHS. Yet, in her mind, somehow our own view of ourselves is rightfully and justifiably negated by all that external BS. Those are the thoughts of a deeply insecure little girl. You make an excellent point. And I agree 100%. She’ll learn. We all do.

  • Marcy

    This post was depressing but I get what you were trying to say (I think). I get it in the sense that we all have felt this way at one time in our lives, especially when we are all constantly bombarded with beautiful, perfectly styled, toned models (or singers, actresses, etc.). We might think only if i looked like [INSERT NAME] then everything would be great. Then we could really feel great about ourselves. This is a lie. Even women such as Stay Dash, Halle or Gabrielle Union said that they suffered periods where they didn’t feel beautiful. If it depended it on the outside look then certainly these ladies would NEVER have any issue feeling beautiful. Self-love is a daily project (for me). If you start slacking on the self affirmations then you will certainly stay falling down that dark hole of feeling “unpretty.”

  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    Yes like she is seeking some sort of unanimous outside validation. Which is a huge mistake, imo true validation comes from GOD and if you know who you are in Christ then what the world thinks of you is insignificant, in the grand scheme of things.
    While it is nice to be acknowledged you are not dependent upon that for self esteem.

  • Tracey

    To imply that a thin, lightskinned woman with nice weave and light eyes has no real reason to not love herself is the most offensive thing I’ve read in a while. By bringing up those features, you are perpetuating the very stereotype you speak out against.

    As a previous commenter wrote, self love is an internal process. Having others affirm your looks doesn’t make it any easier to affirm yourself. This article was poorly written and very, very hypocritical.

  • Josie

    Wow… just wow. This was a very bitter article. Self love starts with being good to yourself. Begin to put your own standard of beauty before your eyes. Collect magazine pictures that represent you – nappy hair, dark skin, sexy and thick- and put them up around you house. You can’t change the world but you can change your own perception of yourself. And it’s easier to appreciate these things in other first and then you’ll begin to appreciate them in yourself. Disabled? Watch push girls, a show about beautiful wheelchair bound women who live life fully. Acne problem? Go ahead and try proactive or the equivalent. You won’t know if it’ll work for you if you don’t try. (Personally anything on the shelf with 10% benzoyl peroxide works better- FYI) Make life work for you, not the other way around. That is loving yourself.

  • Nick

    Totally see where the author is coming from. The Rihanna’s and Beyonce’s of the world(or anyone else who takes drastic measures to change their appearance or uphold certain beauty standards) cant tell people to love and accept their bodies, flaws and all, when they have a team full of people to pluck and primp them every second of the day. Theres nothing wrong with taking care of yourself but we all know a lot of women do the MOST just to feel acceptable when they walk out the front door in the morning. And some are still paranoid about something even after all of that. If we stopped criticizing each other so harshly it would be a lot easier for individuals to accept themselves.

  • http://motionandrest.wordpress.com/ So So Steph

    ^^ Yes.

  • Miakoda

    Rihanna is brown-skinned.

  • http://gravatar.com/cocovabarbie KemaVA

    I wonder how old the author is. I say this because I felt this a lot when I was younger. However now that I am on the happier side of 30 I truly can say I love myself… all of me.

    I think the key to it is understanding that you are deserving of self love regardless of any perceived flaws. Think about your very close friends. Are they perfect? No but you love them all the same. I am also a big believer in not saying anything to myself that I wouldnt say to a friend because I would consider it mean. I would never wonder out loud to a friend how can you “”just be comfortable” with yourself when you’re fat, dark-skinned, pimply, visibly disabled, obviously gay or trans”. Thats not nice and no one deserves to be talked to like that. What if that was your child’s description? Would you think they are less deserving of love? Self love is not necessarily dependent on your actual features or characteristics. I have seen beautiful women with lower self worth and women many would think to posess lower self esteem to have a very high self value.

    Oan… Just like another chocolate sister here said. I dont think that the “thin, light-skinned black woman with light eyes” loves her features any more than I love my thick curvy shape, chocolatey brown skin and beautiful dark brown eyes. I hope one day the author gets to truly understand the meaning of self-love. *hugs*

  • Que!

    “I’m not inviting everyone to a “woe is me, little dark/fat/nappy-headed/acne-riddled/etc” pity party. I fit into a lot of those categories and I don’t hate the way I look—some days I even love it….. What I’m saying is that this constant, flimsy, one-size-fits-all push for acceptance is thin. It’s weak. It’s annoying at best and insincere at worst. Instead of telling me to love my “flaws,” stop telling me they’re bad and undesirable in the first place.”

    This is it for me! I agree with Ms. Teal. Although it is a bit of a rant/vent (sometimes we have to do it) I agreee with where she’s coming from. It’s not that she is trying to justify hating ones looks, it’s just that this preachy-preachy “love yourself” business by the mainstream is insincere and just plain whack especially when you consider how lightness, thinness, and more caucasian features are viewed as more lovable. Instead of shaming me for having insecurities, start fixing some of the things that make one more succeptible to being insecure in the first place.

  • http://gravatar.com/myowncomfortabletruth agnes

    This article feels so wrong. Maybe we all grasp for self-love because it is the one thing that should be incorruptible. To say that we don’t all have “equal access to self-love” is absolutely wrong and clearly contradicts the very definition of self-love- it comes from within- it can never be given. Yes there are many things in this world that seem to be beyond our control, but to proclaim that people have no agency whatsover even in the most difficult of circumstances is, to me, even more damaging than victim-blaming.

  • http:tontonmichel.tumblr.com Tonton Michel

    Easier to love your self than to demand others to love you. Besides healthy self esteem grows and protects you from the opinions of others, self love started black is beautiful movement in the 60s and 70s, the push for natural hair, black beauty magazines and fashion. Demanding that other people accept you before you accept your self is a one way ticket to a mental health facility.

  • http://theunsungstoryteller.tumblr.com theMuseintheMirror

    I don’t know if the author realizes this or not…but granted Rihanna and other people that the author thinks are deemed beautiful by society definitely don’t feel that way about themselves inside. Some of the most “beautiful” people either feel disgustingly ugly or are really ugly in the inside (or both). The way you look on the outside can mean something totally different to you in the inside. It’s ALL about the way you perceive yourself. It truly is and the author needs to realize that.

    I’ve had people call me all kinds of names in the book (ugly, too dark, look like a man, etc list goes on), but I know that my family members and a majority of people think that I am beautiful the way I am. I LOVE my skin and I LOVE myself regardless of what anyone says to me or thinks about me. : )

  • Renee

    This was bitter. Poor taste.

  • Apple

    I understand what you mean. I get irritated when pretty people tell me “if you just believe in yourself it will all work out” type self love. The kind of the way I get irritate when rich people tell poor people “money isn’t everything, less is more”

  • bk chick

    I love this article. You know why? You had the balls to keep it REAL. What I got from this is that you cannot expect every group of people to have such an easy time “loving themselves”, when beauty is def not equal opportunity. Preaching only “self-love” without the component that you mentioned, changing the system/industry of beauty is false and is indeed a form of victimizing the “non-beautiful” person. I think often times people confuse Reality with Negativity because, frankly, delusion sometimes makes you happy. And I get that, but it’s so crazy how people really expect someone who fits outside of the norm to just say “welp, it shouldn’t be that hard to love yourself” and keep it moving. Self- love, as the author said, is indeed possible. But the road to that is not evenly distributed.

  • Deal-n-Truth

    You don’t have to love you, but it is good to love yourselves and if you keep looking for outside forces to accept you and shower you with love, adoration and validations you will never have it.

    One minute this blog says one thing and the next minute their guest bloggers are preaching another message. Sure everyone has a differing opinion about life, but when many of your readers want to read about empowerment that they can relate to, I know they don’t want read contradictory statements by individuals who seem to have insecurity issues.

    BTW, we all make up this society, so we are all part of the problem to a certain degree.It may not be a obligation for you to practice self-love and validation, but it is a necessity for a your mental well-being. Maybe if you would stop following the celebrities for inspiration and look in the mirror, you wouldn’t feel inadequate by not measuring up to their pseudo standards.

    Here’s a little quote that I saw: “I embrace all what others see as flaws or imperfections without apology or compromise.” ~Signed by any individual who has chosen to love themselves.

  • CaSweetface

    Yesss!! So many are missing the point! To ignore what for generations has been told is “good-looking” which of course is the fairer side of the spectrum, you are ignoring our very skin biased history. It’s not a bashing of light skinned individuals its accepting what many of our families and society have accepted as the standard while anything else pales in comparison. We are society! We make choices that are wrong and mean spirited very easily w/o a second thought. She’s right about social media and I’ve seen some real sick sh*t on sites making fun of dark skin girl who you can barely see in a picture of her white classmates or brown skin girl with a snatch back ponytail struggling to get the little hair she does have in a hair tie. These are subtle things we as a society chuckle at but it’s at the expense of someone else’s self-worth. It’s obvious that you should love yourself but what’s not so easy is convincing a little girl who is opposite of what is considered beautiful, based on the media she ingests, that she in fact is even though she’s never seen her “type” represented positively & even bashed by her own ethnicity.

  • http://gravatar.com/geenababe geenababe

    She let it all out. I really have no words and don’t know what to think.

  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    Ummm with the social media thing, if people didn’t have a choice of how and what is viewed on social media then maybe I could agree with this, but people do have a choice in that.
    Not social media per say but lets take hip hop for example, I used to be a hip hop head til it changed into a woman hating minstrel show, homoerotic mess. I chose to stop ingesting hatred of my gender, race etc by not listening to those message anymore. You hear with your ears but you listen with your soul and she is listening to the wrong messages and viewing the wrong content. The world is full of ignorance, hate etc but you don”t have to take in and or internalize these things. She is measuring herself by the wrong standards, that’s the reality.

  • Kacey

    Now let’s all stand back and wait for the onslaught of unwanted, abusive black male input and “advice”.

    3…2…1…

  • pyteena

    I couldn’t even read the whole thing because I didn’t want to let in that much negativity.

  • Des

    I agree that you can wish away suffering. Some people have it HARD. Some women are raising kids on their own without any help and are asked to be positive thinkers to improve their bodies, etc. I agree. However, the author missed the point. Her rant against lightskinned women was unnecessary and I am not light. What people are trying to tell us women is: if you try to love yourself, no one can come in and bring you down to your knees. You can be missing next month’s rent, overweight, not entirely healthy but if you try to love yourself, you will at least have self-love. Self-love is powerful because there is no telling how far it can push you. This article was badly written and kind of ridiculous.

  • Des

    I meant to say you CAN’t wish away suffering but you can have slef-love! You must try.

  • Des

    Here is another point: she complains that people who are telling women to love themselves are the same ones upholding images that are hard to live up to. Here is the thing “Author”: yes, there are media images that are damaging to women HOWEVER when you walk into McDonald’s and order a McRib with a super size drink, YOU are the one imposing bad images onto yourself. I have done it and we have all done it but don’t blame other people for bad CHOICES. A poor mother may not have food to feed her kids but who told her she should go out and give them a bottle of Moutain Dew to drink. We make choices in our lives and sounds like you are unhappy with yourself. You rant is dishonest and frankly weak. Please have a seat and let real writers write these articles.

  • Des

    My problem is she put down a ton of light skinned black women in order to make her point. She is SELFISH

  • Des

    PLEASE don’t bring bell hooks into this nicely cloaked competitive and hateful “article”. bell hooks would have had some insight and integrity. None of which this “lady” has.

  • http://gravatar.com/missinformation7 Ms. Information

    lol..me either….if we have access to ANYTHING…it is self-love….if you have a self…which we all do..you can learn to love it….eat better, encourage your spirit, get out of the television which aids in us not loving ourselves and GET OUT OF YOURSELF….helping others ALWAYS helps you get to a place of self-love…

    To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

  • Des

    I agree! There are light skinned women who are survivors of abuse, disease, and violence. They manage to find self-love somehow despite. Don’t attack them and I am not light!

  • Simone L

    You see that thing flying over your head? It was the point of this article. You missed it.

  • Des

    The attack on light skinned women was out of line and I am not light skinned. There are light skinned women who are survivors of domestic violence or are battling cancer or some other illness. Don’t attack their struggle. Your article says you are ugly on the inside and that my dear is always the bottom line. Work on your inside and maybe we can talk. You sound bitter, negative and attacking: no one has time for that. I don;t see your face but your ugly has shown up loud and clear.

  • au napptural

    I can’t front, I stopped reading after the third paragraph. I refuse to let toxic energy into my space, even if it’s in the form of an article.But I will critique what I read. The problem is not that self-love is so hard. The problem is the author is conflating Eurocentric beauty values with a person’s actual worth. Rihanna is light with hazel eyes-then she must be loveable! But don’t forget Rihanna obviously has her own self-esteem issues, which she showcased when she headed back to an abusive relationship with someone who wasn’t even exclusive to her. Let’s get it together.

    Then there’s the issue the author is basing her self-love on how attractive she is to other people. WTH? So when you get old you don’t matter? The whole thing is just so asinine.

    Further, I might sympathize a bit if the author said self-love advice is hard to take from someone who is ” considered conventionally attractive” or “is regularly praised for her looks”, but instead she went for the same tired trope- Riri is automatically fine b/c she’s light. Child, please. For people saying she didn’t say it like that- what was the second reason she listed that she couldn’t love herself? That she’s dark-skinned. First, I have to look at all the reasons she listed. No shade, but if you are talking about someone being attracted to you, you can change being overweight and having bad skin. There are plenty of disabled people in happy, healthy relationships.And GASP, some men prefer darker women.

    Instead of talking the time to write this you could be cleaning out your emotional house.

    ITA: I finished the article. My opinion remains the same.

  • au napptural

    And you’re beautiful as well :).

  • Des

    Simone: PLEASE! Don’t be condescending. This article has NO point except one to dismiss and reject other women because this women is bitter about who she is. This “lady” is suggesting that all women who are preaching self-love are also the ones who are upholding images that are detrimental to women. Oh please. Do you know how many inspirational speakers – black women – whose words and work have gotten me out of a funk? They have pushed me to get two degrees when I did not have a penny. They have pushed me to talk to my dad after years of not forgiving him for being absent. They have helped me see that I am beautiful even if I have some extra pounds to lose. This “lady” dismisses all of that because she has issues with herself. When are we going to accept that society does not owe us validation? We black women can exercise self love even when it is hard. But don’t tell me self-love is hard when you are making bad choices like the McRib sandwich then complaining about body images. Yup. 3 years ago, a man broke up with me and I went straight to Popeye’s. Yes, Popeyes. That was MY choice and it was a bad one. I have been vegan ever since.

  • LMO85

    Agree, wisdom hopefully comes with age as well. This reminds me of back in the day when I realized it was time to leave Hip Hop music and BET videos alone because the images that were promoted and the lyrics were damaging to my psyche. It is not easy to begin the journey to self love when you are ingesting like someone else mentioned, a fame stream “media diet”–so unplug from that first–and then like others have already mentioned, the author and others like her need to realize that you can’t expect other people to love you more than you love yourself. If you constantly feed into the media machine, you are lining the pockets of the people who make you feel bad about yourself. STOP IT> and yes, learn to love yourself, it would be great if we all really loved each other the way God intended in this world, but the day to day reality is that only you can represent for yourself all day and night and no one, not even your parents can do it for you.

  • Simone L

    Like previous posters said, we all have access to self love. There comes a point in your life when you say “I deserve to love myself, I’m amazing.” I just reached that point in my life a few months ago and now self loves practically comes out of my pores. I kinda see where she is getting at, I see where she was trying to go with it but life is too short to be miserable. My hyperpigmentation used to irk the hell out of me. Now? I don’t pay it much mind. It takes some longer to reach it. We all have to go down different roads to get there but you can only reach it once you realize you’ve earned the map and the right to start the journey.

  • Des

    Oh, I guess you fairest of them all did not miss the point of the article right? I love how you are posting about self love but in a previous post attacked me for stating that this woman’s article is hateful and dismissive of the great work inspirational women have done via the idea of self love. SMH at the hypocrisy (and the rudeness).

  • Des

    Weren’t you the one who posted something about a circle about one’s head and how that was an indication of missing some point? Gee, what camaraderie and respect for other women you have. SMH at the hypocrisy. Now you decided to change your tune. That is what posters have been saying all along: this woman is dishonest and now you change your tune. I have no time for rudeness.

  • Des

    You see that thing flying over your head? It was the point of this article. You missed it.

  • http://www.geekmommarants.com GeekMommaRants

    Debbie Downer Day, No thanks!

  • GaPeacheeQueen

    I am an avid reader of many of the clutch’s articles, but have never commented before now. I clicked on the link because I was puzzled about the asinine nature of the title. Naturally, as my fellow readers have, I am disdainful and disgusted by the mentality being espoused in this article. I won’t be a repeat of the salient comments left here for the author, but I will say that your lack of love and heart is apparent, and your passion appears to be your pain. “Let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go… I betcha love will make you better… ” Self Love may be optional, but self loathing is already rampant; Let us aspire to spread love. There may be a thing as perfection, but it has nothing to do with our perception. This article is full of self loathing and maligned intent. Do better by your readers, and review your motives and intent, and how your words will move the individual toward enlightenment, peace, empowerment, change, passion, politics, the entire diaspora belongs to you. You have the platform to opine, please don’t use it to whine.

  • http://twitter.com/Author_JGail Teflon Jawn (@Author_JGail)

    As long as you look at yourself through the perception of others, whether it’s a sibling, parent, friend, romantic interest or some stranger on the internet, you will always be disappointed in yourself. This is true no matter WHAT you look like… whether you’re Rihanna or the everyday person on the street

  • shay

    Maybe rihanna should have just said what im about to say. Get.The.Fuck.Over.Yourself.
    Signed,
    A light-skinned thin pretty woman with naturally long hair and clear skin who has had her own body issues to get over. i got picked and still do for being “too thin”. Especially growing up around nothin but black ppl. so like i said get over and u damn right love yourself more than any other human can. because u are a creation of God. in his image!!! Believe it or not.

  • Tiffany

    I am going to say several deep prayers for the author of this article. This human being is obviously crying out for love. I hope that the venting in this article will help you find some internal love and peace.

  • GlowBelle

    Whoa. Aren’t you just a cuddly ray of sunshine. Now I’m not the most hunky-dory person and there are days where I feel like total trash and stupidly compare myself to others, but I get the that you are looking for validation in people and places where you will NEVER be validated, and you are just setting yourself up for heartbreak and self-loathing. You need to be around people and indulge in things that support you and bring out the best in you, not bring you down and make you feel ugly. It is a struggle, a process to love yourself, I’m on that war path myself and it’s rough and I doubt myself tons, but you do not need to be bitter about it because bitterness and disdain for others positive nature makes YOU look and feel ugly, and from the tone of this article, you are spiraling in that direction.

    Also the ‘thin, light-skinned women’ jabs and comparisons need to go NOW. I’m tired of it. Sounds like you have an issue with these types of women, when you don’t even know what those women are going through. Just because someone is constantly dubbed “beautiful” doesn’t mean THEY feel that way. We are ALL struggling in our own ways. So yeah, Rihanna IS right in this case, you don’t have to love yourself all the way, but at least you can find something that you like about yourself to keep you going. Also why the focus on looks? Your actions towards others and your special talents should outshine everything. Work on building that up and everything else will fall into place.

  • Tiffany

    Ladies, seriously it is enough anger and hatred in the article, there is no reason to bicker with each other, this article is doing a very good job at poisoning the atmosphere. Let’s try and rise above the anger this article is inspiring. We all need MORE love.

  • Tiffany

    AGREED!!! Someone needs a HUG!

  • Blue

    Somebody needs some self love. or maybe they need to throw out that bed of nails they sleep on every night. Which ever comes first.

  • Tiffany

    Don’t you tell me to love me, who are you to tell me to love myself, I mean if I am feeling like I am unlovable, why should you feel like I am lovable O_0…****Sounds absolutely ridiculous doesn’t it!!! Um, yea because it is!!!!! If as a human (No matter what race/color/creed) you are feeling this down on yourself, it is time to seek professional help. I re-read part of this article and wanted to go drown the authors sorrows in a vat of Ben and Jerry’s and chase it with some strong Jack Daniel’s.

  • http://alexismpaka.tumblr.com/ Alexis

    She brings up valid points but the tone of this article is so bitter I don’t want to keep reading.

  • B

    yeaahh there are a lot of issues with this. (like, a lot) the one thing i will agree with is the hipocracy of society in insisting that you should love yourself while in the same breath telling you everything thats wrong with you.
    HOWEVER. self love has a very important component YOURSELF. Also, who says that the skinny light skinned girl doesn’t have body image issues as well? Who says that rihanna can’t have insecurities? why aren’t they allowed to struggle with self love?

    So yeah everyone can and should learn to love themselves. and what we need to stop doing is depending on other people to validate us. all of these “outside factors” you name. who CARES. The point of self love is to not need tv shows, movies and pop stars to confirm your beauty. thats what this article is missing. its so easy to blame everyone around us for our self esteem but that is something that we have control over. of course its not easy but its also not impossible

  • Misha

    While I do agree that the author may be a little bitter I understand parts of where she’s coming from. There are times in our lives where we all need a little self-validation from people around us, it helps to lift our spirits and self-esteem. But I disagree with the title completely, I think that you should feel obligated to love yourself because the reality is that it’s your face that you have to look at in the mirror every day for the rest of your life. Why not come to love it at some point?

  • BEAUTY84

    SANDRA ROSE IS THAT YOU!!!!!!! LMAO!!

  • http://theunsungstoryteller.tumblr.com theMuseintheMirror

    Thanks! I LOVED your comment on the other page! You said it all right there! The author needs to read some of comments…ESPECIALLY YOURS.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    hmm interesting. kind of reminds me of how kim kardashian,kelly rowland,iman and other clearly knifed up celebrities talk about loving yourself and embracing who you are, when they got a whole bunch of plastic surgery. yes i’m sure they have soo much self esteem! because people who love themselves do drastic things to change how they look. oh,ok!

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    thank you! i thought i was the only one who was puzzled by this. how are you gonna tell somebody to embrace their flaws and love themselves the way they are, when they are sitting in a plastic surgeon’s office every 5 minutes.getting PS is not loving yourself.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    that’s the problem she probably won’t even be able to collect magazine pictures that represent her because magazines normally have light skinned,color eyed,loose curled hair type of black women in them. it’s hard to find a black women with the features you just described in a magazine. their skin has either been lightened or they have a straight weave.

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    I do get that the term “loving yourself” can come off as cliche. And I especially understand how difficult the path of self love is when your upbringing didn’t validate or nurture you. There are many black parents who have failed and continually fail to empower their children with TLC and unconditional love and the consequences in our communities are devastating.

    BTW. This invalidation in light skin homes, dark skin homes, skinny homes and fat homes. Rejection and invalidation don’t discriminate.

    But to the author. The world will never be in Kum-ba-ya acceptance of our differences. This is why self-love and acceptance is an inside job. I understand that looking within and at a mirror can be challenging for many women but it’s still your job to get right with yourself because you’re the one living in your body.

    I’ve seen so many women miss this point and what often happens is that we look for our self-worth in the wrong place. We end up having children and pretty much continue this devastating cycle of being reliant upon others to define our worth. We must teach our daughters and our sons that power will always come from within.

    Nothing worth having EVER comes easy.

  • Me27

    I am all about self-love and self-acceptance, so I don’t understand the statement we all don’t have equal access to self-love. Of course we do. No one said loving and accepting yourself was easy, but it’s definitely possible.

    It sounds as if she buys into the idea that there is one standard of beauty and she’s upset because she doesn’t fit it. But what she fails to realize is no one fits that standard. Not only that, but beauty standards are constantly changing. Her problem is she keeps looking to outsiders for validation. Wanting others to stop hating your flaws is impossible. You cannot change how other people think; you can only change yourself. Once you learn to love yourself, you will find that loving and accepting others becomes easier.

  • Afrostyling

    Girl, you got issues!

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    IMO, I think those celebrities are saying “love yourselves” and using their stories as a cautionary tale.

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    First off, I think this article was posted on XO Jane’s site as well. It looks familiar.
    Secondly, IMO (and based off of the fact that I am in a family that are a bunch of Debbie Downers), the author sounds like the type of person that wants to wallow in her sea of pity and woe. Maybe it is because she wants attention for others.
    Thirdly, the people who are telling the author to “love herself” are maybe… Um… well…
    Maybe they are just sick of her sh*t. Maybe they are tired of hearing her “beat herself up”. And if she doesn’t say anything, her body language is probably conveying her attitude. “Love yourself” is a nice way of saying “Stop putting yourself down please”.

  • black_feminist

    What is hateful about the article? Who does the author hate? Please explain. I’d like to at least understand where you are coming from.

    Also, I am quite certain that bell hooks would agree that we need to go beyond superficial advice to just love oneself, and interrogate the ways in which our collective beliefs and actions undermine self love for many. I am also sure that she would advocate expanding our notions of beauty and transforming our culture so that all bodies are valued.

  • aDORKable

    I got through one paragraph and pushed myself to read the rest. It took me years to love what I saw in the mirror when my own parents never told me I was beautiful, or even pretty. My mother would make sure to compliment my younger sister, but it would be like pulling teeth for her to compliment me. She always used, you would look better IF you did this, IF you did that. My father rarely defended me, and would only ridicule my clothing choices, even though I spent most of it in jeans and a nice top because that was what I was comfortable in and the only thing my mother would agree on. I think I only had three people that actually told me I was pretty until I hit college, my grandfather and two uncles. The only thing the women in my family complimented me on is my size. I spent ages 10-17 depressed and hiding behind books, schoolwork, tv, and computer games thanks to the comments I got from my parents, ridicule I received from other classmates, and having acne, braces, and glasses. I told myself through all those years that one day who I see in my mind will match what I see in the mirror. Every time the ridicule became too much, I’d curl up in a ball with the blankets over my head and repeat that to myself until my tears subsided. I realized that all the ridicule had not only stressed me out mentally and emotionally, but physically as well and it was keeping me from the person that I knew I was. Senior year got contacts, first week of college my skin cleared, by Christmas, my braces were off and I had dropped from a size 9/10 to a 3/4. I was in a new place, a new environment, I had a fresh start and I had no one to stop me, but me. I was able to match the girl in my head to the girl in the mirror and I still see her eight years later. My parents still make comments but they don’t phase me as much anymore because I know I’m beautiful and I know what it took to get to that. I still have those ick days, but now I make funny faces, laugh at myself, put on some moisturizer, lip stain and lip balm and keep it moving . Self-love is attainable no matter what color you are and we all have our demons to fight to get there, but we all have the strength in ourselves to do it.

  • dmac

    I hear what she’s saying about marginalized groups being blamed for their beauty issues as though it all started inside them. But I think the author is confusing self-love with accepting societal beauty standards. Even if you meet society’s beauty standards and therefore feel good about yourself, that’s not self-love. That particular aspect of your life is certainly easier, but it’s not self-love. Unfortunately women are constantly given the message that our worth is determined by our proximity to beauty standards. But I think this article may be reinforcing that by focusing completely on looks. The things that prevented me from loving myself when I was young were overemphasis on accomplishments, not being accepted for my personality, and family issues. There are lots of things that determine how we feel about ourselves besides beauty.

  • SayWhat

    I get what you’re trying to say, but the problem is bigger than hip-hop. I don’t watch BET, but I do watch prime time, am I suppose to close my eyes the next time a commercial airs and it has the typical light skin female paired with a dark male? Am I suppose to close my eyes when I wait in line to pay my groceries and all of the women on the magazine covers are white/light? What about when our beautiful Michelle Obama is called every name in the book?

    I’m too old for hip-hop, but I do still live in the real world, and in the real world, you cannot escape the fact that we are color-struck, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc, etc..

    I understand that some are turned off by the author’s tone, but she told no lie.

  • Marie

    What is the point of this article? And why drag in being dark-skin as if its some kind of skin cancer? Fat, pimples, short hair? The author should have reached deeper; she comes across as being very superficial.

  • Me27

    i love this comment! I wish the article had been more like this. Where the author talks about her own struggles with self love and acceptance rather than her ranting about how it’s not for everyone.

  • http://gravatar.com/smithdrt Il Taker

    I read (well skimmed) through one paragraph. Please see a therapist. I mean that in the most nicest, sincere way as possible. If there is one thing I hate to hear, read or watch, is melodramatic sob stories. Stop with the victim , nobody loves me, why can’t I be like so and so mentality. You are not a victim, somebody does love you and you can’t be like so and so because they are them and you are you, they got what they got and you got what you got. Freaking learn to love it and stop acting so pathetic, my God!!!

  • http://nenointhecity.wordpress.com nenointhecity

    In this day and age with the internet, it ain’t that hard. There are so many online magazines and other images for all sizes and types. Look harder.

  • TH

    It is HYPOCRISY honey. Spell check. Otherwise good points.

  • Gell0h0h

    Yesss to this right here! ” Self-love is attainable no matter what color you are and we all have our demons to fight to get there, but we all have the strength in ourselves to do it.”

  • http://nenointhecity.wordpress.com nenointhecity

    Whitney, I encourage you to dig deeper. The type of self-love you mention in this article is not self-love at all but actually the opposite-how you feel about yourself based on the opinions of others. The people who are so-called “beautiful” by society’s standards don’t have it any easier and don’t necessarily love themselves any more. Every one of us is working on healing from something, and though many may have had it seemingly “easier” than others it doesn’t mean we don’t all have a significant amount of work to do. Let’s not throw people that look a certain way under the bus.

    You are right, no one can make you love yourself but I think you will find your health, (physical and mental) much better when you do.

  • http://nenointhecity.wordpress.com nenointhecity

    Also it’s not about meaningless jargon or affirmations if you are coming from a sincere place of making the effort to work on yourself. I have found that affirmations help tremendously-but they only work when you are making the effort.

  • Lea

    This article is so badly written, so full of bitterness, so nasty, and so negative it makes you want to go out and take a shower. This woman should not be allowed to write such articles because her bitterness just depresses all of us. I can’t imagine what her bitterness does to people in her private life. Time to look in the mirror.

  • Playwitit

    Wow. I thought I was gonna hate this article but you are so right! I see it all the time and it pisses me off.

  • butreallythough

    I think this post ignores the fact that it’s just as easy to hate yourself when you DO fit the societal standard of beauty as when you don’t. Society and the media hate everyone (just some more than others–that’s why it’s hard to make it on the cover of a magazine, but even when you do they still photoshop the heck out of you). Models and famous people (the ones who are held up as the standard of beauty) are probably more harshly criticized than anyone, and publicly at that. We each experience different levels/types of rejection/criticism than others, but we all deal with it nonetheless. And the reason that self-love is important is because loving yourself helps you respect yourself and treat yourself well, and when you respect yourself, you respect others–better for everyone.

  • Kam

    This article makes me so sad. I come to your website smirking to myself daily because I know that I will either get a good chuckle out of an article (and the comments that are second-nature) or I know there will be an article that brings my spirits up. THIS article did not. It is poorly written, and is ultimately a bad look on Clutchmag’s behalf. Is there someone who reads the articles before they are posted? The author is obviously crying out for help. The moment you look OUTSIDE youself for love, you require re-evaluation. Compliments from others are nice, but if you don’t believe the compliment yourself it really doesn’t amount to much. PLEASE seek help. Whether you commit to helping yourself, or you seek professional help…trust me you will learn to appreciate it. The difference is monumental.

    Nothing but love, Kam.

  • Roger

    Demanding that other people accept you before you accept your self is a one way ticket to a mental health facility.

    And Boom.

    @Tonton Michel

    You have to peep game tho.

    Some people live & die by what others think, and that will never change.

    Creedmoor is big business!!!

  • E.M.S.

    I don’t think everyone who talks about self love is doing so based on the perspective you suggest they have. I agree there is something wrong with intentionally cruel behaviors and sayings on social networks about the appearance of some being superior to others, but you are automatically assuming that everyone who promotes self love ALSO participates in those attitudes, which is untrue.

  • Kay

    i’m actually surprised by the amount of people who believe this article is way off. while i may not agree with her delivery and there are things it seems she didn’t consider (e.g. that women who do fit society’s standard of beauty may also struggle with self-love), there is still something to take away from this. regardless of what anyone says, humans are social beings. people ignore that fact when they say that the opinions of others should NEVER matter in one’s conception of self. it’s unrealistic. we’ve constructed a society where everything has a social meaning and no one is unaffected by it just by way of being a part of this society. i don’t think it’s an either/or type thing. i think it’s both/and. practice self-love from within but also do the work to make sure you’re not contributing to the marginalization of someone else.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    This!!!! Besides, I know a few people (including white people) who do NOT find Rihanna attractive despite her fitting into this mold of “light skin, light eyes, slender figure and long hair” they say she has a snout for a nose, her body is gross, etc. so let’s stop pretending that the grass is greener and having certain features mean you are validated faster when it doesn’t, especially since you are STILL a black woman fighting against society beauty standards.

    Honestly, I didn’t want to read it after the first paragraph but I force myself too. I can see a smidge of the author’s point but the rest of the points home girl needs a therapist session with to get through. But you are right she is basing her perception on others, and while I get that it is only natural to want to be validated by others the fact is NOT ONE PERSON will have validation of the masses because guess what some people you will fit their beauty standards and some you will not. So why would you marginalize your life based on the ones who don’t… Furthermore, you should be obligated to love yourself and in turn validate yourself because if you are expecting others to do it for you then you will be dead and long gone before that never happens

  • JO

    Yes!!! And stop downing dark skinned girls by trying to make dark skin into some curse. How terrible! All of our colors are beautiful and you just need to get over it. Ugggghhh.. no offense but at no point should you equate the being obese with being dark skinned.

  • JO

    Agree, I can just imagine the damage this would do to a young girl with dark skin if she read this. The author makes dark skin seem like it something terrible that is sooo hard to deal with. Its one thing to have that kind of negativity inside but another to put it out into the atmosphere.

  • Me27

    She sounds superficial because she is superficial. That explains why she hasn’t learned to love herself. She doesn’t realize that self love is deeped than the exterior; which is why she thinks self love is impossible. She needs to realize that self love comes from a much deeped place.

  • Me27

    *deeper

  • SurvivorSunshine

    “A thin, light-skinned black woman with light eyes and enough money to keep the straight weaves flowing and the pores cleaned out cannot, in any way, understand how hard it is to “just be comfortable” with yourself when you’re fat, dark-skinned, pimply, visibly disabled, obviously gay or trans or a part of any of the other groups of people that we all actively oppress each day.”

    As an average-sized, light-skinned, long light-haired and light-eyed black woman, I can tell you that YOU are the main part of the problem by targeting us with your damn issues. Take your eyes off how easy you think it is for us to live in a world that HATES you upon sight based on a very sick but deeply-internalized self-hatred rampant in your own community- one that SHOULD be embracing all of their differences and beauty ideals, and put them on yourself. That is the only reason you are struggling with self-love. Not because of anybody else and your assumptions on what it is like to live in their skin.

    I’m sick of women perpetuating that notion that beautiful light-skinned women make your life so frickin’ miserable. What makes you miserable is that you put so much attention on us because you don’t want to be you. I can’t help anybody with that but I’d start with not worrying about “mainstream” society or the men that you surround yourself with who obviously make you feel so terrible about how you look. Leave Rihanna alone and do YOU! She, me and other pretty light-skinned girls with flip their hair and bat their eyes while we do us.

  • http://twitter.com/whitney1016 Whitney TenSixteen (@whitney1016)

    It’s a very big understatement to say that you missed the point. It’s probably true that you only glazed over it. You absolutely did not take any time to digest it or think it through or form a thoughtful opinion.

    I’m not struggling with self-love. I’m cool with the way I look and I’m even cooler with who I am as a person. If I wasn’t, I’d never be able to write this article and publish it knowing that people would attack it. (Yeah, I predicted almost all of these comments.)

    The point isn’t that YOU are making MY life hard. I’m not accusing you of anything. I’m not saying you’re better or that you think you’re better or that you act like you’re better. I’m saying our society has created a construct in which you are PERCEIVED as better, and that’s the issue. We should all be united in bringing down privilege, not each other. And pretending that privilege doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away.

    (Also, kudos for making the piece heteronormative, because I never mentioned men :-)

  • Nakia

    This was dope, I enjoyed the perspective thought I only partly agree with it…well thought out and well written and with a fresh take on something often discussed.

    There will always be a standard of beauty, no matter your society or community. Luckily, there will also always be people who buck convention and folks who engage in, create and celebrate sub-culture, which for me, is the meat of where society resides. I am a proud member of American sub-culture and am glad that this catapults my self-esteem outside of the realm of what the mainstream provides me with to assess my own beauty, intelligence (there are many kinds) and self-worth.

    We all hold one another to standards. Even my “sub-culture” has them. You will never be free of the judgement of others, even when they look, sound, smell and spend exactly like you. At the end of the day, you gotta be able to say, essentially, screw them and find your own tribe. And then live in their light (and yours).

  • brownsuga24

    I guess I’m one of the few that actually “got” this article. The author doesn’t seem to have some deep-rooted self hate. She has, however, rightfully shifted some of the blame to society and its unrealistic, unfair ideals — ideals that give rise for people this blanket self-love bullshit being spouted out constantly by celebrities and life coaches alike. I think she’s asking us to consider why the hell we need to spend so much time learning to love/accept/appreciate ourselves despite what others think. Why? Because, like the author stated, too much time is spent criticize the flaws of the nonperfect rather than uplifting their attributes. The only reason little girls start caring about whether they are fat or not is because OTHER people tell her that she’s fat, that fat is ugly, and that she is “less than” because of it. You think she wanted to hate her fatness. Hell no, she didn’t. So I agree, if society as a whole became less obessed with critiquing the fat, pimply, ugly, gay members there would be far less of a need for the incessant preaching of self-love. But judging from the majority of the comments to this article, we have a long, long way to go…

  • brownsug24

    I guess I’m one of the few that actually “got” this article. The author doesn’t seem to have some deep-rooted self hate. She has, however, rightfully shifted some of the blame to society and its unrealistic, unfair ideals — ideals that give rise for this blanket self-love bullshit being spouted out constantly by celebrities and life coaches alike. I think she’s asking us to consider why the hell we need to spend so much time learning to love/accept/appreciate ourselves despite what others think. Why? Because, like the author stated, too much time is spent criticize the flaws of the nonperfect rather than uplifting their attributes. The only reason little girls start caring about whether they are fat or not is because OTHER people tell her that she’s fat, that fat is ugly, and that she is “less than” because of it. You think she wanted to hate her fatness? Hell no, she didn’t. So I agree, if society as a whole became less obessed with critiquing the fat, pimply, ugly, gay members there would be far less of a need for the incessant preaching of self-love. But judging from the majority of the comments to this article, we have a long, long way to go…

  • http://gravatar.com/solfresh solfresh

    “A thin, light-skinned black woman with light eyes and enough money to keep the straight weaves flowing and the pores cleaned out cannot, in any way, understand how hard it is to “just be comfortable” with yourself when you’re fat, dark-skinned…”

    That right there made me go ummm… To write this is to assume “light skin women” don’t have the same issues a fat person, acne riddled person, or disabled person has regarding self-love, self-esteem. 1 you’re assuming every light skin black woman is flowing in disposable dough to go to the spa and purchase a remy. 1a) Light skin girls can have acne, be obese, etc. 2) It appears to me that you’re a victim of what society is feeding you if you think “a thin, light-skinned black woman with light eyes and enough money” is a credible profile of a secure woman. Light skinned woman are insecure too. You can be beautiful and meet of all society’s standards and still be insecure and not have an ounce of self-love. As we’ve all seen numerous times one can have all the riches of the world and still not love themselves. So to sit here and ration out self-love is disturbing.

    “The reality is that we don’t all have equal access to self-love, just like we don’t have equal access to anything—from food to education to fresh air.” Self love is accessible to all and if people want to get it from Rihanna let them. All that matters is if you get it. Self-love is not the same as food, education, fresh air, remy hair, a bmw, or a fresh manicure. Self love is intangible and requires a completely different process to obtain it.

    In my opinion everything else in this article were generalizations. The title is misleading. You say self love is not an obligation yet you cite all of these examples of society pushing these standards of beauty on us, so self love is an obligation. Self love is how you combat society’s notion of beauty. You’ve also attempted to make self love a commodity in your article, lmao To sit here and say we all don’t have equal access to self love is absurd. Keyword: SELF ie WITHIN, INSIDE ONE’S SELF. Everyone has access to self love, you have to exert the emotional labor to get it. Finally you’re basically saying if society didn’t say I was “insert ‘undesirable trait’ here” you’d love yourself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Again, self-love requires emotional labor.

    I would love to know where Rihanna said this and it’s context. I get how annoying it is since everyone’s a motivational speaker now due to the proliferation of Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, but um all of those platforms have unfollow buttons. If someone’s attempt at wisdom is annoying you just unfollow. What you think is annoying could be life saving to another whether they’re fat, light skin, dark skin, w.e. If you don’t like skinny, light skin rihanna telling you to accept yourself, unfollow her! Why even take her seriously?

    Self-love is accesible to all…if you want it. If you want to change the world you gotta start with yourself lol

  • http://gravatar.com/solfresh solfresh

    I went through the same thing adorkable went through (braces, acne, and glasses) but my mother always made sure to call me beautiful and spent probably thousands on acne products and dermatologist visits. My father picked on me sometimes but nothing crazy or consistent. I share this to refute this author who thinks all black people can be generalized. Even with my mother calling me beautiful I still felt not good enough and I struggle privately with seeing myself the way others did especially with my size. I was skinny growing up in a community that praises big butts and hips. I had to come terms with myself society didn’t budge for me. Growing up even with people calling me beautiful I still felt ugly. Self-love is just that SELF. love.

  • Joy

    Wow! What a downer! A Debbie downer at that! I am sorry for anyone that doesn’t love themselves. I understand that we all have one, or two things about us that we would want to change. But, I don’t get how you give up on ‘loving yourself’, just because what you see in the mirror isn’t loved within the media, or amongst others. I have always been called, ‘the little black girl’, but ‘little’ and ‘black’ doesn’t sum up the person that I am. I see a whole lot more… I would tell you all but you would think I an narcissist .

  • Ok

    Self-love has everything to do with self, meaning it starts with me. My ideas, my thoughts, my emotions. People, society, culture the “they” we always refer to won’t change. So, to tell someone to stop preaching self-love, is a waste of time. It’s hard to change someone’s opinion, that is why change starts with you. That is the whole premise of self-love. Maybe it’s easier for some to love themselves based on their looks, but everyone still has their own personal journey and own personal problems. Beauty fades and there is more to self-love than acceptancing your physical appearance. Maybe we should stop focusing so much on outward appearance and direct own attention to beneficial ideas.

  • SurvivorSunshine

    “I’m saying our society has created a construct in which you are PERCEIVED as better, and that’s the issue. We should all be united in bringing down privilege, not each other. And pretending that privilege doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away.”

    I didn’t misunderstand or not comprehend a thing you wrote. In fact, I took major issue with the blatant but worn-out assumptions you make about how light-skinned women somehow have it so much better because of how society apparently perceives us. Because I’ve walked in those shoes my entire life, I was pointing out the fallacy in your weak argument and letting you know the grass definitely isn’t so green on the other side of the fence. And while you’re alienating and dividing black women with that tired ass POV that feeds into the colorism you say makes you want to tell Rihanna off, you want us to kumbaya and “unite” with you in fighting against light-skinned girl privilege. No thanks.

    The only thing I’ll be working against is the white privilege in this country that’s the real problem and reinforces the view that ALL black women are less than, no matter the skin tone. You are not my enemy but you’ve already decided that I and other light-skinned women are yours merely because “society” (men) tell you that you’re not as good as us. Get a clue and realize that nobody or collective group of people should have the authority or power to tell you anything about yourself. If you think you’re beautiful and “cool” with who you are you wouldn’t be spouting some nonsense against your fellow black sister who hasn’t done ish to you but is just living life in the skin God blessed her with.

    And I will keep bringing men into the equation because if you’re honest, you know that’s what really gets under your skin. I shouldn’t be forced to take responsibility for why many men prefer Eurocentric features and fantasize about having a light-skinned chick on their arm. It is a huge turn off that a lot of black men are so superficial about it all. And some insecure light-skinned women could worry about whether those kind of men really want a white girl and just settle for the next best thing. But, for me, who cares? I don’t let men determine my value in this world. I just wish more women felt that way and stopped targeting light women for all their self-esteem issues.

  • SayWhat

    Sometimes it is funny how things play out.
    People are going HAM on this woman because she dared to say that it is not easy to love yourself after being repeatedly told that there is nothing loveable about you, that you have no redeeming quality. She has been called bitter, angry, full of self hate, blah, blah.

    A couple of weeks ago Mountain Dew came out with the goat commercial and the black community took to the streets with pitch forks because of the perceived attack on the image of the black man. We made our voices heard until they took it down.

    People are going HAM on this author because she dared to say that it is easier for a light/biracial woman to love herself because she is told daily, by every conceivable outlet (print, radio, television, the black community) that she is beautiful, than dark skin black women……especially if they look like Precious.

    Here is where the hypocrisy comes in, and why I fully support this author. If you scroll through Clutch you will see an article about a gorgeous actress called Tika Sumpter? (sp), in that article someone wrote that the reason dark skin black men prefer light skin black women is that they are more feminine/pretty. He only received 13 thumb downs.

    So my takeaway is that when black men or light skin women are attacked (real or perceived), we must fight back because words hurt. Negative portrayals matter. Being constantly told that you are dangerous, a degenerate, ugly, not worthy, just plain bad….HURTS and as human beings, it will affect us and it is not easy to bounce back from such insults…… BUT, when dark skin women are attacked, we are supposed to put on our big girl pants and keep our head up? ! THAT……THAT…. is what is pissing the author off.

    Only 15 people disagreed with someone who basically called dark skin black women dudes in drag, but this perceived attacked on light skin women has this thread at over 100 comments?! I admit, the author’s tone was a bit harsh, but after reading the comments on this thread, and seeing the MINIMAL response on the Tika thread, I get it…..As we use to say back in the day….’ that’s that ish right there’.

  • SP08

    Joy did you read this article? The writer is not telling you to hate yourself. She is saying that we should stop aspiring to a societal standard by which many of us judge attractiveness. Someone is TELLING YOU that XYZ is unattractive about you so you hate that about yourself. Instead of masking the symptoms in false self-love, she is addressing the root problem.

  • V

    What about all the people who meet certain prescribed standards of beauty and still don’t have confidence and self- love? Where do they fit in your argument?

    I agree that there is a beauty problem in our global society. However, self- love can’t come from without. Its SELF love- it comes from within. It shouldn’t matter what everyone else thinks- you should be able to see value in your characteristics, physical and otherwise.

    Sure, society can certainly affect ones perception of self. But you can’t take the blame and responsibility of self-love and place it on society. Its personal responsibility to try to love ones self.

  • Joy

    Yes, I read it! I am sorry if you didn’t agree with my synopsis. And – it was STILL a downer! A wordy, negative, rebuttal for ‘the world’. The world is the problem because they set the standard for beauty… You can’t change the world, ‘their ideals’, their opinions. It starts and ends with you.

  • Joy

    I disagree with the article because it’s a passive approach to ‘acceptance’. She is pissed off at the world because her reflection in the mirror, isn’t portrayed in the media’s cookie cutter form. That’s when you have to stop and ask yourself, “Is it my problem or is it societies problem”?

    Forgive me if you think I am wrong, but everything starts with ‘YOU’. Back in the day they used to say, “I am rubber, you are glue, what ever you say bounces off me and sticks to you”. Maybe it takes a certain level of maturity to see your own value in this world, but no one defines it but you.

    The last time I checked, nothing in life was fair. We all cannot have it ALL – money, fame, luck and looks. So take what you have and be happy with it. Make the most of your life and let your enemy be your friend. Don’t get pissed off and transgress that hurt on the world. Love it. Eat it up, and dish it back out in a positive form.

    Again, we all cannot be cut from the same cloth. But it’s better to find a solution, then to be pissed off, and say that everyone else needs to change. Get over yourself!

  • NOitAll

    “How dare you, fat, dark-skinned woman with nappy hair, not love yourself the way some thin, white woman with straight hair is apparently able to?”

    Interesting how the author used “fat, dark-skinned, and nappy” as the example of someone who doesn’t love themselves. That sentence alone destroyed whatever argument she was making.

    I agree with Rihanna’s quote 110% and I’m a “fat, dark-skinned woman with nappy hair.” The body I’m in is the only one I’ve got, I can either love myself or shoot myself.

  • GaPeacheeQueen

    If society as a who did that, dear, we wouldn’t have the systemic rape and brutalization of women and men internationally, slavery, child pornography of human trafficking. I think it is asinine and naive to blame the problems that already existed in the world before anyone on this planet TODAY were alive. We didn’t create racism, sexism, or gender, but we still have to fight the battles. Waiting for realization, the battle will be lost before its fought…

  • Nakia

    “Interesting how the author used “fat, dark-skinned, and nappy” as the example of someone who doesn’t love themselves. That sentence alone destroyed whatever argument she was making”.

    I don’t think it’s all that interesting considering that those things are polar opposite of what American society at large defines as attractive. We cannot deny the weight loss crazed, hair weave pumping, Beyonce/Rihanna/J.Lo Culture in which we live.

  • SayWhat

    I would see the merit in your counterpoint if not for the fact that only dark skin black women are asked to be above hurtful words and actions.

    Why did we rally around black men and their objections to the Mountain dew commercial? why are so many rallying around light skin women from this perceived attacked if it’s all boils down “I am rubber, you are glue, what ever you say bounces off me and sticks to you”.

    So take your own advice and get over yourself!!

  • Serena

    And… I’m dark skinned too. I don’t want a man that doesn’t want me. So there’s no need to argue with black men and their bias remarks.

    You have never had a preference. I’m not justifying there preference, but that’s what they want. That’s not all black men. I have dated several black men that had a preference for white women. The differnce between me and others that hold on to the biases, is that they fight it to prove a point, while I kill them with charm and kindness. You will always catch more bees with honey than vinegar.

  • tia

    Praise to this article.

  • YUM

    Yeah I think a lot of people are missing the point and proclaiming it a ‘negative mess’ in an attempt to underline just how in love with self they are. *eye roll*

    I do not see anything wrong with what she said; basically unless you have no part of and are tackling the institution(s) that work to portray dark-skin/fat/natural hair women as inferior -shut up when it comes to telling everyone to love self -fix the bigger problem.

    I don’t know necessarily agree but it is a fine article.

  • YUM

    An ‘internal process’ that is very much affected my external influences- why pretend? Self esteem is realistically not developed in a vacuum and I believe the author is saying rid negative influences, especially as they are not uniform for all individuals, before insisting everyone develop and maintain a high self-esteem.

    I do not think that she was trying to say lights skinned women to do not reasons not to love themselves – more just giving an example of a group with one less negative external self esteem society set barrier to overcome. It was simply an example – that everyone seems to have fixated on and ignore the more prevalent point(s).

  • Q

    She betta preach on that part about Instagram! I especially like the “All of those “bitches/chicks/girls be like…” Instagram images that are essentially created to show one person’s beauty over another person’s apparent ugliness? All of those Facebook status updates about “getting right?” All of the times you’ve snuck a picture of a fat person or an old person or a person you thought was ugly and posted it somewhere for your friends to mock? Yeah, you. You’re part of the problem.” part. Those types of pictures are both truly disrespectful and hurtful! Depending on how often someone reposts them, you can easily get a feel for how insecure and/or cruel they are.

  • Lynn

    I think I understand what the author is saying. But the images in magazine aren’t changing. It’s not MTV’s job to boost your self-esteem. It just isn’t. Loving yourself will always be a harder job for some than for others. But it’s still YOUR job, no one else’s. You can either do the extra work to get it done, or not. But waiting for other people to tell you you’re pretty is not a viable gameplan.

  • Anon

    Yep. All that mess about light skin, weave (and really, the light skinned chick has to have a long silky weave to still be pretty?), and money to pay for WEAVE (lawd that’s her priority?) was just a veiled way to put down lighter black women.

  • Anon

    Hate to break it to you, but every woman doesn’t have to do the most just to leave the house. Some people are just naturally beautiful. And ya’ll need to leave Beyoncé out of ya’lls mouths for at LEAST one post on beauty.

  • http://www.facebook.com/youmaycallmeash Ash Lee

    The author is essentially bashing the beauty equivalent of the bootstraps myth. Why it is so difficult for you all to understand that is beyond me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/youmaycallmeash Ash Lee

    I’m glad there are still people who are able to think critically!

  • http://www.facebook.com/youmaycallmeash Ash Lee

    I think it’s hateful in the same way that people of color talking about white privilege is hateful. LOL
    Some people just find it too hard to believe that beauty capital exists and thus people can be privileged owners of it.

  • debo

    “Self-love is not an obligation.” It is a choice. For some a harder challenge based on upbringing and societies illusion of truth. Someone once wrote “We were sent here to learn Love.” May we be more kind and loving. Hopefully, realizing we are all connected on this Earth and our outer appearance is a shell of our being. Love to all <3 :-)

  • hanna

    This article strikes so many nerves in so many ways. I applaud the writer for her sheer honesty and her frank approach to an issue that I do not see leaving us anytime soon. We have a big job to attend to!
    We have wrestled for centuries with rejection from our white counterparts but what hurts the most is when the hatred, rejection and mistreatment comes from within. The ‘mainstream’ indoctrination of what is beautiful has been a problem that we have inherited for generations. From the white slave masters that subjugated our ancestors to the indirect messages we were fed as little girls from our fellow white counterparts and our very own, that the colour of our skin incited hatred, fear and oppression.
    Instead of uprooting such perspectives we have nurtured them and we don’t need the white man/woman to do the nasty work for us. We need to unlearn the lies we have been fed with and it starts with us as parents, as aunts, daughters, cousins, sisters, friends. We need to stop the hate that we see unfold on social networking sites where we can act as trolls and take delight in public crucifixions of a fellow sister if her hair wasn’t slick enough or for her ‘black accent’. We need to speak out and wisely confront such people that try to infiltrate our forums and portals of exchange. Its a shame that some of our black brothers that have made it as global successes within the music industry have also contributed to this issue of self hatred. Their obsession with the light, slender or even bottle shaped sister has made some of us believe that our darker shades and other body types are not beautiful. We need to support artists that are singing/rapping/spitting another message that celebrates our diversity. Education is the key.

  • Mo

    This reminds me of how I feel about Oprah’s magazine. So many great articles on accepting yourself, especially aging, self-love, etc, but all sandwiched in between ads about Botox and anti-wrinkle creams.The media engenders cognitive dissonance.

    But that’s why I don’t buy most women’s magazine’s anymore. I’ve had it with the hypocritical confusion.

    There is always a choice. Mainstream media, pop culture and even certain FB friends can be toxic to your soul. But you must resist and stay far away from it. If only until you can heal and become more self-accepting.

  • Michael Jones

    The first words in this articles shows that the writer has such hatred for people trying to help someone like her, society will always try to hit the nail that sticks out. Learning how to love yourself will always be a constant struggle it does not matter if it is about how you look or act. Everyone is insecure about themselves it is call being human. Wanting society to baby who you are is foolish and downright unrealistic.

  • http://michael.co.ke Michael

    I like, what I thought was, the base premise in this article. Instead of telling me to love my flaws stop calling them flaws to begin with. There is a huge need for people to redefine how beauty is determined. Which, to some extent, is already happening.

    It also ties into the whole feminism thing and why ladies, in general have body issues. Most men think they are sexy, because their looks have never really been a deciding factor. On the other hand, from a very young age, ladies are told that they are to act, and dress in a certain way. That they must conform to some standard of beauty. Not to say that this doesn’t happen to guys as well, but less often than it does to girls.

    What am I trying to say, what that lady said in that song “you are beautiful, no matter what they say”

    And to them who say shit, kindly shut the fuck up.

  • Michael Jones

    She wants the whole of society to say she is beautiful, that will never happen. She has to learn how to stand on her own two feet and depend on other people to make her feel better. Also no one has the right to tell someone else to shut up. Individuals have to accept the options of others, no matter how mean spirited it may be.

  • sunkissbliss

    It’s imperative that as many people as possible come to love themselves! It’s self-acceptance. Just because individuals may possess the gold standard of what’s deemed beautiful and worthy, they may not always see what others see and celebrate. Low self-esteem crosses all socio-economic lines and barriers, affluent white adolescents and young adults tend to have lower self-esteem and struggle with drug addictions more so than others. There’s a serious heroine epidemic in upscale suburbs across America, not to mention (painkillers) meth, E and prescription drugs, whether rich, middle-class or impoverished. Self-esteem is forged and fostered by self-acceptance, actualizing and reaching potential. Rich kids complain (no one’s available), latch-key kids home alone need programs, dark skin kids are often teased and bullied, light skin kids are resented based on their looks and bullied, while also being adored, but the unkindness tends to stay with us longer! Sometimes men are abusive to light skin or “beautiful” women for no reason other than he thinks she may think she’s better than him. Some men choose dark skin women thinking he’s better than her. But, at the end of the day, it surely behooves us to love ourselves, I can’t imagine how we feel worthy or realize our value or expect others (treatment) to do the same without COMING to love and accept ourselves. Some people get it early on in life from their families, for some, it’s a life-long pursuit!

  • sunkissbliss

    Sometimes there won’t be anyone to give us what we need. It’s our job on earth to realize our wholeness, which is our identity. For Christians, it’s in the image of God, so there’s no questioning why Ciara, Rihanna or Beyonce can do what they do, but even the celebrated have to uncover their true value and net worth, love and accept themselves outside of “what they do.” We suffer from an identity crisis and media images plays a role, but we have to jump off that train of abuse, prejudice and misery. Circumstances (unhappiness and bitterness) will help us on our journey. It’s a job (finding self-worth) with no exemptions! Oprah built a media empire, a woman who came up against all odds and they’re plenty of other untold (non-celebrity) success stories of people of color, in our neighborhoods, churches, school council meetings, etc., we’re everywhere, ordinary people living extraordinary lives, learning to love ourselves, one layer at a time as a work-in-progress!

  • Secilia

    I definitely understand and agree with the main argument that how does one really love themselves when almost everyone around you tells you the opposite. However, I just do not think waiting for the rest of society to change so that they can accept you is the way to go either. I know I am going to sound like what the article is against the idea of self-love, but how can one expect to be loved if you don’t love yourself. I am not going to wait for someone to say “hey you are beautiful I changed my mind.” No way! I do not have all the standards that people like, but bump that! There are people who will say horrible things about my appearance then another day give me compliments and I am suppose to have my self-esteem founded on that rollercoaster. No, no, no! At the end of the day, I did not have the “resources” or access to self-love stuff. But I am also NOT going to wait for someone to value me in order to value my entire existence of struggle, triumph, and beauty.

  • Ads

    I used to do self esteem workshops with wealthy Upper East Side highschool girls, and with brown and black immigrant trafficking survivors. Suprising (or unsurprisingly) this article would be perfect to use with both groups – as well as with my mostly brown “young professional” friends now. Props to the author and I really encourage Ms Teal to reach to groups like GEMS and Girls Rock with this article or a g-rated version- we all need to hear this.

  • Kara

    Very nicely put. I just happened to come across this article while using StumbleUpon, and all I can say is that whomever wrote this article should keep writing more.

    It is so refreshing to hear from the other 90% of society- the normal, average American citizen- the all natural woman who doesn’t have the bottomless income to throw away on personal trainers/chefs, plastic surgery/liposuction, or on a high-end wardrobe so large that a shirt/dress/pair of shoes is only worn once before tossed aside- and that consists entirely of this year’s latest and greatest designer clothing lines whose value is no doubt more than five times the value of my entire house.

    It is so easy to speak of self-love when you not only have the means and the connections it takes to achieve a perfectly sculpted body and image, but when you have the perfect motivation as well.

    Rhiannon (and every other celebrity) has no privacy. Her entire adult life is out on display for the public. Not only does society expect her to be perfect, but as soon as any imperfection is discovered, the media will make sure to expose that imperfection to all of America; and inevitably, the public thrives on those mistakes and we behave starving dogs fighting over a bloody slab of meat.

    I don’t know about you, but that would be motivation enough for me to do whatever it takes to as perfect as possible. And it would also make me want to represent myself as a powerful, confident woman who loves myself- whether that is the truth or not.

    I guess my point is that we should try to remember that our happiness, our ability to truly love ourselves, and our ability to feel confident, strong, and beautiful can come from within ourselves. It takes a lot of soul-searching, hard work, and even some disappointments- but to truly love ourselves, to truly be confident with who we are, we must find it within ourselves.

    I don’t know Rhiannon. But what I do know is that media sends the public a very CLEAR, CONSTANT, and TOXIC message that the key to happiness is through money, owning the best clothing/cars/houses/tvs/latest/greatest electronic device/etc…and that this is the message not only that we receive, but our CHILDREN receive EVERY SINGLE DAY.

    It is our RESPONSIBILITY to realize that the media does this for ONE REASON ONLY- and that reason is MONEY. As long as we continue to BELIEVE that we can’t be happy without these things, and as long as we continue to spend our HARD EARNED MONEY on things the media tells us will make us happy WE WILL NEVER LOVE OURSELVES, and WE WILL NEVER FIND TRUE HAPPINESS.

    This is what the media wants. We owe it to ourselves and to our children to wake up and realize that we are literally being played. The media, the advertising agencies, the giant corporations program us because our hard earned money funds their income. They make a living off of us, they have so much of our money that they wipe their asses with one hundred dollar bills and they LAUGH.

    We don’t know the real Rhiannon. We don’t know her daily habits, her flaws, her fears, her insecurities. The Rhiannon we are familiar with is an album, a voice, a pretty face on the TV or on the page of a magazine…..and lucky for Rhiannon- all we know of her is what she wants us to think we know. It is so easy SAY “I love myself”, but to actually mean it is something entirely different.

    I guarantee that there is someone out there who truly knows her, and that person could tell you that Rhiannon is just a person- no different than you and I- who has her own demons to fight, her own crosses to bear, and that her happiness is just as much a struggle as anyone else in this world.

    Thank you for writing that article…it was very inspiring and so rarely is it talked about. I would love to read more of your articles.

  • http://gravatar.com/geenababe geenababe

    I think this is one of the best articles from my time on here. When I first read it, I didn’t get it. But now seeing examples in here and in real life, I know get it.

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