When we sat down to plan our 2019 year of editorial themes, natural beauty was one we listed first. Finding the right month to talk about it? That was trickier. With so many messages out in the world about self-improvement, weight loss, body acceptance, etc., talking about the aesthetics of the SELF felt like dangerous territory for a number of reasons.
Our team defined our approach to natural beauty as loving what is—far beyond shifting the type of value you place on your outer appearance. Even with the emergence of body positivity, I couldn’t help but wonder why we have to place value on our physical appearance in the first place. After all, we’re all going to be victim to gravity. Celebrating where we are now is really important, but we also have to be at peace with the knowledge that these things are all fleeting. I’m interested in finding a way to love who I am until I’m 100.
Celebrating where we are now is really important, but we also have to be at peace with the knowledge that these things are all fleeting. I’m interested in finding a way to love who I am until I’m 100.
So that’s what I’ve been working on for the past 90 days leading up to this month of essays. And what I’ve learned throughout the journey is extremely personal, in no way replicable, and certainly nothing I’d summarize in a convenient listicle of how to learn to love yourself.
What I can do is share my process. And offer our writers to share theirs as well.
The two areas I will be focusing on are on self-love and ADHD. I realized I was very comfortable living in self-loathing as a motivator to achieve what I wanted in life; I became lost without that mean girl bully in the back of my brain striking fear into my heart every time I wanted to quit a goal. I’m happy to say, she’s still with me but with a much healthier role to play—that of my cheerleader and hype girl. I’m beginning to move from recovering perfectionist to proud imperfectionist.
It was an out of body experience, to let go of using my ADHD and obsession with food for good. The freedom I’ve found through real self-love is foreign at times, and there are some thoughts I have that I still don’t believe. I will always be my harshest critic, but that doesn’t mean my negative thoughts are true. It will always be a process to not fall into old habits.
But what I found was the shiny underbelly of my own silver lining—I have started to see, accept, and love who I am without the things that will fade with time or hold me back.
My learning disability is the gift of an incredibly fast brain. My obsession with food and weight is the gift of focus. My love for beauty and aesthetics makes experiences that bring joy.
As we turn the corner into the upcoming season of gratitude and celebration, we’re going to spend some time thanking ourselves for what comes to us naturally. From exploring new looks to finding empowerment through coming back to our roots; from accepting our neurological makeup to coming to peace with the lines that grace our foreheads (or perhaps, embracing the decision to delay their appearance).
This month, our contributors will be exploring how their relationships with their appearance, bodies, and personal style have evolved over time. They’re writing about cultivating confidence and ways to compliment others that have nothing to do with their looks. Like me, they’re writing about how traits they once thought were flaws are actually their greatest gifts.
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BY Kate Arends - October 1, 2019
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
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