By Marian Haile
It’s the self-love for me…but what is self-love?
The first time I heard this was when a high school girl said, “How are you gonna love someone if you don’t love yourself? You need to love yourself first.” For her, this was a general rule of thumb she was preaching. A bit of advice she heard from another woman who heard it from another. I had always kept this warning with me; that the only way I’m worthy of a relationship is to be secure and confident in myself.
A few years later, college put self-love to the test. Attending university became an unforgettable moment that consisted of Black women dominating the media. From Michelle Obama to Megan Thee Stallion, almost every year is deemed the “Year of the Black Woman.” It seemed like social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and even Tumblr were celebrating Black women of every shade like never before, making it difficult to tell if people truly appreciated melanin or if dark skin was simply an aesthetic to emulate online. It made it harder to be just a Black woman. You had to be a Black woman and have perfect skin with your edges laid and styled. Or you had to be a Black woman and be the voice of a generation that appealed to the global masses. While none of these things were or are terrible, it was the constant pressure of always being a Black woman and________________.
Being a Black woman wasn’t enough. And this is when “loving myself” became “correcting myself.
To be honest, the thought of not being enough ate me up inside as it kept me confined to people’s expectations of what a Black woman should look, be, and feel like. I just wanted to be free in the world. Free from everyone else’s thoughts, pressures, and realities of who I should be.
“Love being yourself” allows you to live your life by doing things you enjoy and to make your own decisions, showcasing that there is no one way to be a Black woman. That diversity and complexity exist. It was never an issue of accepting ourselves but rather showing society that we indeed unapologetically accept who we are in the face of societal pressure.
The secret weapon of security and confidence lies within loving being ourselves aloud, and knowing we are loved.
Marian Haile is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Prjoect, LLC. A literature graduate, she believes that storytelling and analyzing history can assist in developing an understanding of those around us and ourselves. You can follow her Instagram @marianhaile.