Radical Self-Love: the feels.

I have feelings about this.

In this society, loving yourself is a radical act (for a woman).

I don’t have to have a flat tummy in order to love my body!  Rubens would love me.

The Three Graces

I used to have hangups, for a long long time, about not having a body that is sexy.  You know who to blame.  (#2 notes that, according to some popular science studies she’s read and chosen to believe, men either prefer meaty, or they really don’t care one way or the other.  I would be seriously surprised if #1’s SO didn’t find #1 incredibly sexy.  And that’s the only person who matters in a monogamous relationship.)  Shout out to my partner for always saying nice things about my body!

Now I’m too old for self-loathing or really any other shame.  I’m ready to change my mind.

I am thinking, NOT: “I am awesome anyway,” but rather: “I am awesome, yeah I am!”

I don’t have to have my stuff together in order to be awesome.  I am awesome independently of my career.

Also, this blog post resonated with me.  Don’t forget that The F-Off Fairy can help you, too!

#2 had a brief bout with imposter syndrome in grad school.  She didn’t like it.  Yay for therapy and for being unapologetically awesome.  I have occasionally wondered if it’s better to err on the side of Dunning-Kruger or the side of imposter syndrome and refer myself to the literature on how over-confidence helps people get ahead.  So I figure there’s no need to check my ego, thank you very much.  I probably deserve to have a much bigger one, what with being female and having society against me and all.  I credit my mother for my healthy self-esteem.  I would also credit my awesomeness, but I know plenty of people at least equally awesome who do not have the self-esteems they deserve.  For them, I blame the patriarchy.  (Also with weight I focus on health rather than body image, and with make-up and hair, I find that ‘frumpy’ helps people take me more seriously in my specific profession.  Also I am incredibly lazy.)

#1 again:  I decided to feel sorry for people who fat-shame (Mom…), rather than angry at them, because their words are a reflection of feeling terrifyingly out-of-control when someone’s body appears to be out of control.  Don’t contradict me on this point, I’m just sayin’.

Various messages are coming from the universe that it’s time to be done with the emotional drain of not thinking I’m awesome.

(#2:  SRSLY.  Because why think sucky things that aren’t true when you can think awesome things that are?)

Tell us in the comments what is totally awesome about you!

41 Responses to “Radical Self-Love: the feels.”

  1. Miser Mom Says:

    When we were going through the international adoption process, I had a psych evaluation. My evaluator wrote, in the middle of this document, “She seems stable and comfortable with her identity including her social role as a non-traditional and high-achieving woman. Her competitive streak and frequent themes of admiration/exhibition in TAT responses indicate that she enjoys feeling like ‘Superwoman’ and being perceived that way by others, although she may not feel accepting of herself when she does not outperform everyone else in a given area. However, since her ability and achievement are very high, she is generally able to fulfill her need to achieve, which lends stability to her life.”

    I just think that trio of sentences is very funny. My impression was that the doc felt a little sorry for me; I can’t help wondering if she would have reacted the same way if I’d been a guy answering questions the way I did.

    Go, awesome women!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That is a bizarre evaluation, and yes, very gendered! It’s almost as if she’s putting you down for being comfortable in your skin and being a high achiever.

      p.s. You are Superwoman no matter what people perceive. Duh.

      • becca Says:

        Maybe the evaluator is projecting, and she had to be at peace with being a being a good-enough psychologist (the kind who can see people clearly, but does not know how to help them… actually, maybe a psych evaluator for adoption is a good job fit for a psychologist with that profile).

    • chacha1 Says:

      Huh. I must be missing the subtext. Those analyst statements seemed genuinely admiring to me.

      • Liz Says:

        I agree, I feel like I’m missing something. What I’m seeing is that the analyst thinks you’re awesome, thinks you know that you’re awesome, and is pointing out that if you weren’t so darn awesome your high standards (esp. in terms of competitiveness) might be a problem.

        I’m also failing to see how this is gendered – probably not enough context. Was the evaluator male?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        You do not have to be male to be influenced by the patriarchy. Whether or not the evaluator was male is irrelevant.

      • Miser Mom Says:

        My impression, of course, could be wrong — yours might be right (after all, I can’t kick a 6-foot man in the head!). But to me, this reads like the letters of recommendation I write for my “B” students: “this is a strong student”. Words like “stable” or “generally able” are words that I tend to read as equivocal, in comparison to “confident” or “usually able”. Which goes to prove her point, I suppose, about me being a tad competetive.

        Not that I disagree about the “wants to be superwoman” comment, except in the particular choice of the superhero. In fact, I buy my friends Wonder Woman bracelets to let them know how awesome I think they are!

  2. MidA Says:

    I am awesome at coming up with awesome, “what if” type ideas that make people say “cool!” or “that’s really interesting!”… but most importantly these ideas inspire me. So I am my own inspiration, which is pretty cool. Does that make me like Matthew McConnaughey? ;)

    DH suffers from impostor syndrome and lack of confidence, though he is also awesome: kind, thoughtful, hard-working, a good listener, smart. Any recommendations for reading or other materials to help him?

  3. Cloud Says:

    I got asked last week what was the special thing I bring to a project. I bobbled it a bit, but the answer is: I can get decisions made. I can figure out what questions we need to ask and answer so that a group of people can make a decision.

    Also, I am awesome at getting things done. This is related to the decision thing, I think, because the inability to make decisions is often what causes things not to get done!

    And I make a really yummy New Zealand steak and cheese pie. I am a pretty good baker in general, but right now I’m proudest of my steak and cheese pies.

  4. First Gen American Says:

    I had tons of insecurity issues when I was younger. The ironic thing is that I was the most insecure at my thinnest, perfectest state which was my teens and early 20s.

    I still hate having excess weight but it doesn’t define me like I used to let it. Mainly because I realized that people who hang out with me are more interested in my brain than my body and that’s really what defines me nowadays. The most amazing people I know aren’t beautiful or the perfect size. They are bright, giving, talented, creative, funny, inspiring, and strong.

    My mom started thin and is now morbidly obese so I dread following her footsteps…that is really the rub. How do you accept not being perfect without spiraling out of control and ending up 2x as heavy as you should be? A few pounds a year over a lifetime does significantly add up….but I am supposed to be talking about awesomeness…I digress.

    What is awesome about me is that when someone gets to know my past they are still like…how the heck did you end up so well adjusted? I guess I was always meant to fight and bust my butt for a better life. what’s weird to me is for most people, that doesn’t seem normal. What’s normal is status quo.

    • Rosa Says:

      I don’t know how to not end up fat, but I do know that hating yourself and dieting are pretty demonstrably not it. Might as well try feeling awesome and see how you do.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:


        Ironically I, too, was most insecure when I was most thin. Right now I could stand to lose some weight but I am also incredibly awesome! And lookin pretty cute these days, too.

      • Rosa Says:

        I got a lot of attention from dudes when I was skinnier (I was younger too) and my friends who are still dating (including several who are much skinner & more gorgeous than I ever was, plus now they are also employed at high status jobs and relatively rich) report that dating comes with a lot of backhanded compliments. Such as: “You’re really beautiful, you should grow your hair out” “I can’t believe someone as fit as you eats that much! Are you sure you want dessert?”. I wouldn’t discount the idea that the attention that comes with being conventionally attractive includes a lot that causes insecurity.

      • First Gen American Says:

        Regarding the hot girl thing, I got a lot of that tongue lashing too in college. I think men who think they are dating women out of their league can be mean and cruel and deliberately chip away at your self esteem as a way to knock you down to their level. I dated more than my fair share of possessive and jealous types. It was not good for me because I had to constantly listen to why I was lucky to date them while at the same time having my many flaws pointed out constantly. I think one of the healthiest relationship decisions I’ve made was to date someone who was truly ok with themselves and was not threatened by me.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That’s awful!

        I wonder if that’s what was going on with my sister’s last serious boyfriend. And then he dumped her instead of the other way around! But it’s better to be single than to be dating someone like that, IMHO.

        My mom thinks she should wait for someone who puts her on a pedestal, but I think she shouldn’t settle for anyone who isn’t an equal partner. (Neither of us tell her these things though.)

  5. Ana Says:

    I gotta admit I’m super NOT into the whole body love thing. Not because I don’t believe in it, I do 100%, I just can’t handle the cheesy language often used when writing or speaking about the matter. I did have a hard time with accepting the changes in my body in the past few years, but reading that kind of thing did not help. What helped was time, and focusing on the positive (which generally came from setting and meeting exercise goals), and realizing that my husband really truly was not grossed out by my belly pooch (this took a long time). Also the fact that my 2 year old finds my squishy belly to be his absolute most-favoritist comfort object makes it hard to really continue the loathing.
    But I’m still smack in the middle of my imposter syndrome. I was getting better, as I continued to achieve. Then I started learning and thinking more about privilege. And I realize how incredibly privileged I’ve always been, and…there goes my sense of achievement again. I think this is a good thing, though. Its motivating me to work harder, yes, but also to figure out how I can help others who are not in such a set-to-succeed position. If I could do that—I’d REALLY feel awesome.

    • OMDG Says:

      Just because you started out with advantages doesn’t mean that what you’ve done is irrelevant, easy, or worthless. Take advantage of the position you have to do great things! Don’t waste what you’ve been given. \

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I had a hard time with the cheesy language too, until I learned about NEUROSCIENCE! Basically, we get so many negative messages about ourselves in the world, and because of mirror neurons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neurons) we think that all the negative messages are about us, on some level. Because of the sheer number of negative portrayals out there in the world, we need to tell ourselves about how awesome we are just to stay even.

  6. chacha1 Says:

    What is totally awesome about me …
    1. I am an idea factory.
    2. I am good at planning and process management.
    3. I don’t agree to do things (outside work) unless a) I want to and b) I think I can do them competently.
    4. I can kick a six-foot-tall man in the face if I have to.

  7. Steph Says:

    On the body side, my legs. I’ve been self-conscious about my weight forever, but somehow my legs always got compliments. Plus I like walking and dancing (even if I’m bad at it) and other leg-intensive exercise, so I’m proud of my legs even if they have extra weight on them. I actually refuse to go back to a particular pilates instructor because in the class introduction she went off about how awesome lean muscle is and how there are “no thunder thighs here”; I’m a pear so I’ll always have larger hips and thighs, and that comment pissed me off.

    I also like thinking about the fact that Rubens and other artists loved painting larger women :)

    On the personal/work side, I’m a good problem solver and good at helping people with computer issues. And recently I was really proud of myself for being able to articulate a possible thesis project to an advisor, along with the potential challenges.

    And I’m very good at hugs.

  8. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    I feel awesome for overcoming former body shame and self-esteem issues. I bounced between eating disorders in my early 20’s, because I was desperate to be thin. I watched my mom yo-yo diet her whole life and truly never learned what eating normally was like.
    Fortunately, I met my husband and he let me know that I didn’t have to live that way anymore. I taught myself to eat like a normal human being- I studied nutrition, measured portion sizes, etc. I learned to just stop eating when I was full. It was really hard, but I eventually stopped punishing myself. I learned to treat food as fuel for my body (cheesy, I know), instead of something to binge on.

    Now that I have two little girls, I am desperate to not let that cycle repeat itself. We have a rule of not talking about weight in our house, and not shaming each other for eating snacks. We still have to watch our weight since we’ve hit the mid-30s, but we don’t talk about dieting in front of the kids. I don’t want them to have to go through what I went through. Young adulthood is hard enough.

    • Norwegian Forest Cat Says:

      Yes to all of this. I was very much in a similar place throughout my late teens/early 20s, and it was absolutely awful. Sure, it taught me a lot about myself (or at least the therapy did), but it sure did make things a lot harder and continues to trip me up once in a while. I really don’t think my mother understands any bit of influence her self-loathing and her words/behavior (always in the company of other women who felt negatively about their bodies) had on me when I was young, but I am 100% determined to make sure that any mini-Norwegian Forest Cats I may have someday will know that bodies aren’t something to be hated, even if they don’t look exactly the way you want them to. Also, eating that piece of really, really good chocolate is usually worth it, so enjoy it.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I love your house rules.

  9. Debbie M Says:

    I once decided my super-power was rationalization. I like figuring out how opposite-seeming theories or explanations or observations could both be true. I like making up good reasons why people are doing seemingly crazy things.

    I am also a good interpreter–I like liaising, for example, between programmers and users, between faculty or administrators and students. (Both languages have to be some sort of English because I stink at learning foreign languages.)

    I am awesome at living well on a mediocre salary.

    And I’m good at being around people who are better than me without being jealous. I have many strategies. I can recognize that some advantages other people have come with disadvantages I don’t have to deal with (high wages and long hours, for example). I can tell myself that I’m helping other people feel good about themselves when they see how much better than me they are–say, at the gym. Being around people who are smarter, more fun, more interesting, funnier, etc. is FUN–and I’ve learned they don’t think I’m some sort of social parasite because people like to be appreciated–win/win! And when you’re surrounded by people who are better than you, they can help you get better, too–it’s the good kind of peer pressure.

    Sometimes I get to have fun creative ideas, like when I gave my first boyfriend Purina Carl Chow (cookies in a bag) (yes, his name is Carl) and when I sang happy birthday to a friend to the tune of the Hallelujah Chorus.

    And I am awesome at appreciating a light back-scratching. Mmm. And dark hot chocolate. Etc.

    Also, I am good at looking sweet and innocent. Mwahaha!

    Also, Cloud reminds me I make awesome banana chocolate chip pancakes.

      • Debbie M Says:

        I am going to assume you are talking about the pancakes and not, say, my rationalizations or my mediocre salary.

        Recipe is here:

        I am awesome at making them because everyone is awesome at making them. The only bad part is if you are not yet good at flipping pancakes and they are still landing on the edge of the pan.

        Or maybe you are talking about Purina Carl Chow. That’s pretty good too–just use your favorite cookies.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I am SO hungry right now.
        I should go home.
        And eat.

  10. Mutant Supermodel Says:

    I have recently come to the conclusion that not thinking I am awesome and having lots of self doubt and insecurities is way more tiring and stressful than just conceding that I am indeed awesome. I am dorky and nerdy and awesome and if you don’t like that I don’t understand you and that’s fine and I’ll be on my happy little way.

  11. Revanche Says:

    How funny – I hadn’t read this post before kicking out today’s Link Love post on Being Awesome, and I asked for people to come brag and they didn’t. Though, they might have been put off by my self congratulations ;)

    My most awesome professional quality is being the person who gets shit done. That’s somewhere in my self description, too.

  12. Feminism ahoy! (part eleventy, and reading) | Grumpy rumblings of the (formerly!) untenured Says:

    […] To hell with ‘skinny’ recipes.  Also, I would really like to eat “Rocket Scientist Macaroni and Cheese” or “Excellent Pal and Confidante Apple Pie”.  Giant middle finger to all body-shame. […]

  13. I trust my body | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] #2 would like to remind everyone that, whether or not you would like to make food and exercise changes, a great thing to have is radical self-love. […]

  14. Getting some kind of exercise routine | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] I owned two swimming suits.  One I got in college.  The other one I got right after my 7 year old was born.  I figured I could buy a new swimsuit or two at this point.  Because I hate shaving, I got a rash guard top, which is pretty cool.  Then I hit Land’s End’s 40% off swimsuit sale and got a skirt to go with the top and another suit that’s a dress.  I’m liking these old-fashioned suits and the rash guards that are in style.  I’m not sure anybody actually wants to show as much nether-region area as standard swim-suits show, especially those of us who don’t wax.  (#2 reminds about radical self-love.) […]

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