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Learning to Love

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is characterized by obsessive thinking about a flaw on a specific part of your face or body that is often imagined or, if present, exaggerated in your mind and hardly noticeable to anyone else.

Beauty is not something that can be controlled, altered, and manipulated; it just is. It doesn’t ask to be admired; it rests in security. Our body is not something to fight with, to hate or to alter; it’s a work of art.

Sarah Dubbeldam, Contributor

Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Darling Magazine

The biological drive to seek connection with others often leads us to try to be 'someone else' to win love and approval.

I Heart Me: The Science of Self-Love Paperback – February 13, 2015

by David R. Hamilton PHD (Author)

By Jermani Davis, Age 13

Light skin. Curly hair. These are the things that people at my school find beautiful about me. Being a Blasian girl in middle school, I hear compliments about these features all the time, and yet, I didn’t see myself as beautiful.

It may sound trivial, but I contemplated wearing makeup in elementary because I felt like I wasn’t ‘cute’ or ‘pretty’ enough.

I never had an issue with body image, but more so how pretty my face was. Despite what other people told me about my skin tone or hair, I felt that since I was mixed I was different from everyone else in my class, I had to change to ‘fit in’. It’s weird. Self-love may seem more like a luxury than a necessity, but when you don’t have it, you definitely know that you need it.

Teens my age are bombarded with media about the ‘ideal’ body. These unrealistic and unattainable portrayals of beauty can mentally scar you if you compare yourself to someone on a screen. In this day and age, people are obsessed with social media and beauty. Social media can harm different people depending on how much time they spend on it and what platforms they utilize.

Most of us in the Western world have been raised to believe that perfection is a great quality to have. We’re being too hard on ourselves. We feel the need to do everything right, all the time.

So many of my friends talk to me in private about their struggles. Sometimes they’ll put themselves down while bringing up how other girls are jealous of their body or pretty face. I recognize this in myself. Fast Forward from elementary school to the present day, my mind is totally different; my friends have positively impacted my mentality. I received several compliments from peers at my middle school, all positive ones. Girls complimented my melanin and others even said they “envied me.” I was ecstatic when I found some people admired me. Not only did people’s compliments and words boost my confidence in my face and body, but also my family and the Fresno Black Girl Magic Project helped see how valued I am to them, and it makes me feel loved.

Despite the negativity that can stem from social media, I still use some social media platforms. However, when I do, I don’t get envious or jealous of people’s bodies or faces. I’ve learned to work with what I have. I learned to love myself and others as well.

Some steps that helped me with self-love are as follows:

1. Do the work. It all starts with disciplining your thoughts. Understand why you are worthy and deserving of love. (Here’s a hint, all human lives have value.)

2 Talk to someone about what you struggle with. You shouldn’t go through life alone. Find a support system or a therapist.

3. Distance yourself from social media platforms or accounts that have a negative impact on you. If all that account does is lower your self-esteem, why follow it? Notice how you feel while you scroll through your news feed.

4. Surround yourself with people who support you and encourage you to be a better human being. Do the same for them; create some distance in relationships where this isn’t the case.

5. Helping others reminds you of the goodness in your life, you will love yourself more by loving others. Besides, knowing that there are others less fortunate than you, opens your eyes and gratitude makes everyone beautiful!

6. Self-love and body positivity is important to mental and physical health, and these steps have definitely helped me in the past when I went through light criticism from other people and even self-criticism. I’ve learned to fully love and trust myself. I am beautiful!

There is no need to feel like we don’t match up to other’s unattainable beauty standards or the ‘perfect’ people that show up on your Instagram feed. We are all beautiful.

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