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When liking yourself is a rebellious act

1 Heart it! Michelle Hickman 71
September 16, 2018
Michelle Hickman
1 Heart it! 71

“In a society that profits from self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”

A few years ago, I stumbled upon this quote by Caroline Caldwell. I was in the midst of studying sociology, and the lens through which I viewed social structure and the ways in which it shapes and affects our day to day lives and permeates through our deeply held beliefs about our place in society was only just emerging. I was yet to be fully introduced to the notion that the way in which we think of ourselves is merely a socially constructed idea, a so-called ‘reality’ handed to us from birth by way of gender, class, race and colour. The ideas that seep through in small but persistent distorted images and practices throughout the course of our entire lives, the ones that slowly stain the ways in which we think we are ‘supposed’ to comport ourselves and act, that taint how we think we should look like, subsequently divorce ourselves from who we truly are underneath society’s mirage of perfect beauty. When society has only one lens through which we are supposed to look at ourselves, what happens when the subject isn’t what the camera is programmed to see?

It is widely known that in today’s modern society, every type of media influences a large part of our everyday life, shaping and moulding our perceived norm. When surrounded by portrayals of only one type of ‘beauty,’ it is easy to feel like an outsider when you are not part of the 2% that fit into this mould. Instead of questioning these pre-conceived notions, I automatically assumed from the beginning that I was therefore unfit for the part. Raging insecurities and self-esteem issues plagued me from a young age, flaring up the older I became and the more I was exposed and pressured into what I thought I was meant to look like. During high school, distorted relationships with food and my body became the norm, as it did for many of my friends. We obsessed over different body parts and what we ‘wished’ we did or didn’t have so we could be more ‘beautiful.’ Little did we know just how much society itself was profiting from our insecurities, from the products we would buy, to the salons we would preen ourselves at, to the fads we would try to in order to lose weight so we could look like those on the cover of glossy magazines.

Growing up in this beauty-centric society can leave lasting damage, not only on a persons own notion of how they view themselves, but on how they view and treat others accordingly. Instead of being taught to place value on the depth of a persons kindness and grace, we are instead taught to place importance on glamour as the only kind of beauty. Instead of being taught to love ourselves for who we are on the inside and our ability to make a difference and be of benefit in this broken world, we base our self-worth on the size of our jeans and the shape of our eyebrows.

Now, finally, after many years of blindly following a socially constructed idea, I have declared that enough is enough. Enough hurt, enough time wasted, enough power given to a reality that I finally realise I have no interest in conforming to. If liking yourself the way you are is a rebellious act, then I think it’s about high time we all become rebels.

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1 Heart it! Michelle Hickman 71
1 Heart it! 71

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