Practice radical self love

By The Beacon | September 26, 2013 1:22am

danielleknott2-jpg-copy
Photo courtesy of Danielle Knott.

By Danielle Knott |

There have always been and probably always will be outrageous expectations for men and women whether they come in the form of bikini bodies, perfect IQs or the number of zeroes in your bank account. Of course it’s a good thing to set goals and push towards self-improvement, but being overly critical of yourself can take a toll on the confidence that you need to achieve those goals. Two weeks ago The Beacon published an article titled “Everyone Worries” written by Lydia Laythe, and in it she described her insecurities and how they impact her daily life. She writes “I worry about my appearance ... I worry about what people think of me so I change my personality to fit a given crowd or situation” and so on. Her conclusion is simple: “It’s okay to worry.  It’s okay to be a little insecure.”

OK Lydia, you’re right; it is okay to worry and to be insecure. Sure! We all have insecurities and things that bother us about ourselves. There’s also nothing wrong about being self-aware and recognizing our own (for lack of a better word) imperfections. However, I challenge you and anyone else with insecurities to go one step further than just acceptance. Because to me, that sounds a little like giving up and I think that we as people deserve a bit more than that. What if we examined the causes of this anxiety and asked ourselves what is making us insecure? Your worries about being called a nerd or “looking stupid” are just the products of being constantly told that there is a certain way you have to act and a certain way you have to look in order to feel good about yourself. By accepting your insecurities, you’re also accepting other people’s idea of what is “normal,” “good,” and dare I say “perfect.”

This type of reinforcement isn’t just harmful to us, but it perpetuates these expectations and projects them onto other people, and I don’t think that it’s empowering to accept that. Look at the difference between these two statements: “I worry that my stomach is pudgy ... it’s okay to worry” versus “my stomach is pudgy . . . it’s OK.” The former says that instead of accepting yourself and your body, you’re accepting the anxiety that you have because society has told you that you need to look a certain way, reinforcing that message. The latter accepts that you are you, taking the power away from the ideal and empowering yourself. Let’s work towards accepting ourselves and others as individuals and embracing the qualities that make us unique while challenging those who tell us that there are right and wrong ways to look and act.

When we’re able to do that, we can make some real progress.

Danielle Knott is a senior history major and the president of the Feminist Discussion Group. The club meets Mondays at 6 p.m. in Shiley 124 and Knott can be reached at knott14@up.edu.

B