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A Roundabout Way to Loving Myself - Birthday Edition


After I got my first dose of the vaccine at 7:45 AM on Saturday, I snapped a selfie. What is my hair doing? I wondered. I decided to take another pic today to see how it looked. <click> One look was all it took for negative self-talk to race to the front of my brain. In the roundabout of my self-esteem, these thoughts roll through in a tank without yielding.


Take a picture of yourself right now, if you can. Look at the picture and say the following. Wow. Look at you. You look so cute. You are such a beautiful person. Look how strong you are. You are strong. You are important. People love you. Talk to yourself like you would talk to a beloved friend. Maybe you already see yourself this way. Perhaps you always have, or perhaps you learned.


Loving myself as a large black woman is radical because doing so is counter to what The World says I should do. That’s why I practice talking to myself in the second person. The tapes that play in my head are things my parents said, plus some hate talk I learned from The World. Dismantling that thinking requires using the same pronoun. My first inclination was to berate myself for gaining weight during this pandemic. I noticed my fat neck and cheeks. I saw my grown-out hair, 12 months overdue for a cut—all that within ten seconds.


Instead of letting those tapes continue to play, I turn them off. You are beautiful. Your body protects you. You used tools that got you through other traumatic situations. Those tools added a layer of protection. You’re above water. You’re healthy. The negative talk rolls away.


This roundabout way of loving myself means that sometimes the negative talk refuses to yield to the positive. The messages I get about how I should look threaten to take over God’s truth that I am a beautiful person, and I get to define what beautiful means. I might have to yield in a real roundabout. In the roundabout of my self-esteem, I have control of the signage.



Questions for Reflection:

  • What do you say to yourself when you catch your reflection or see your image?

  • What do you say to yourself when you see large women? How about large black women? Large women of color? Do you notice any stereotypes or biases in your thinking?


Peace.

 

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