Self love is something that you read about incessantly if you are addicted to Pinterest like me. Come on, I am not the only one. Or am I? It’s also become more popular — too — on Instagram. Self love is something that has been as foreign to me as understanding people who are naturally morning risers. It has never came naturally to look at my body and say, “I love this body. I love this reflection of myself. I love this image of myself. I love this disabled body of mine!” Yeah, it’s complicated. It doesn’t help that women (able-bodied) are already scrutinized and can’t conform to beauty standards. Try being a disabled women. It suddenly feels like you can’t conform to something that feels impossible.
I have never been able to recite the words above as I’ve said. Why is it you may ask? I never felt it in my bones. I’m naturally a dead honest. And as much as I love the reflection of others, I have always battled so much of my own.
As someone who is now what is considered a young 20 something (and is definitely a not a hip one): I wanted to change. I want to look at selfies of myself and say, “I love this image of myself.” The real question is: how do you do that? These things below are things that I have been saying to myself to love myself, to treat myself better, and mostly to fall in love with myself in ways that don’t lead to false positivity or driving myself to levels of false esteem that I can’t reach.
This is how I have been going about my little self love journey by a few of these little numbering ‘check points’ below:
1. Your body is always going to be different. Embrace your different. Love your different. That is not a bad thing. It is a good thing. Your body has survived so much. You are a survivor. How many bodies have survived what yours has… and have still have gone on? When I was growing up in my chair, I wanted to be able bodied and hated my body. I couldn’t see that anyone would want this body. Now that I’m in my 20s, I still struggle with my thoughts. Since I’ve started this journey: I see myself as a disabled woman who loves herself including the many facets of her disease. It’s liberating.
2. Stop being ashamed of the hidden parts (aka the ‘ugly parts’ to you) of your disease/disability. There are many facets of many people’s lives that are not glamorous too. How many people hide themselves or parts of their lives? Be who you are and don’t be ashamed. Your disease is out of your hands. If someone thinks a symptom is ugly, disgusting, etc. than that part is not worthy of your time. Point blank. The next time
3. If you name something that you hate about yourself: you must name 10 things you love about yourself to combat that behavior. This is easy, right? You probably hate your stomach if you’re a quadriplegic or someone with immense core weakness (like me) or maybe you hate the fact that your legs are atrophied. It’s easy as a woman who is abled bodied to name 10 things in general. However, it’s hard to name 10 things. Do it. Name those 10 things. It can be internal or external. However, really focus on them. Make yourself look in the mirror. It will help you see yourself in the way that another person does. Fall in love with yourself!
4. Find something that makes you feel sexy. Yes — sexy! I seriously lost that sexy feeling. (I sang that as I typed it.) It was something that I enjoyed feeling when I was young and more free — despite my disability when I was ambulatory. I started incorporating things that made me feel like I was again. That means testing out makeup, buying some good bras, and keep on with my skin. It is not for anyone, but for me. It’s a good feeling. Try it out. I struggled a lot with this. It wasn’t necessarily my chair, but my progression. Treating yourself to pretty things helps your brain.
5. It’s okay to feel nothing sometimes about your body. Loving yourself is hard. We do not always need to feel positive. Just feel accepting of your body and move on. If someone told me this years and years ago, I would’ve been absolutely mind blown. This has been a hard concept for me. Don’t get me wrong. I am totally here for body positivity. I think it’s amazing — especially when it relates to disabled women, women of color, etc. However, body positivity is hard, too. It’s hard to always feel positive especially with bodies that don’t function. Sometimes it’s okay to just say, “I accept my body. I love you, but today I don’t like you. I will treat you right, but eh.” This has been helpful for me. It’s just a medium ground for me. No strong feelings of hatred and no wild feelings of love. It’s helped me to see myself as more than a body as well.
I cannot say that I have everything figured out. Does anyone ever have it all? I am continually evolving in this journey of loving my body and loving myself. I feel like I’ve done a great job lately. I’m proud to say that I can look in a mirror lately and not feel angry or upset. I often feel good when I look in a mirror. I think I would’ve made 16 year old feel proud. I hope I can make 16 year old you (if you’re reading this) find some inspiration if you’re battling the thoughts that I was.
Your body is perfect even when you think it’s not. Your wheelchair is beautiful even when you think it’s not. Your speech is lovely even when it’s not. All of you is absolutely beautiful in so many ways regardless of what the media wants you to believe.
I hope you can find inspiration here to love yourself better.
What’s been your number one tip in finding self love as a disabled woman? Drop it below!