Trans and Gender Expression
Setting the Example of Self-Love
As part of the #BeYourself campaign we have underlined the importance of being yourself and expressing who you are. Talking and sharing thoughts can be a huge source of strength and support, it can be a helpful mechanism to find who you are and can have a positive impact on your personal mental health. We have highlighted a number of members across the LGBTQI+ community that give encouragement and strength to #BeYourself and we have opened a dialog for them to share their thoughts and opinions.
I feel like “loving yourself” is such an overused phrase these days. People constantly post about it on social media and advise others to learn how to do it. But how many people do you know who actually genuinely love themselves?
I believe that we are all born loving ourselves, and we learn to dislike ourselves as time goes on. I’m sure there are a number of reasons as to why this happens, society probably being the main one. As a child, I never really remember being encouraged to love myself. Or at least if I did I was encouraged to keep quiet about it.
When I was a young teenager, I used to have this dream where a boy would sweep me off my feet and help me to love myself. But what I didn’t realise was that I already loved myself. I actually spent most of my life happy with the person that I was. But to me, that really wasn’t normal.
As far as I knew, people bashed themselves constantly and it was a shameful thing to be single (even when you were 14). This is what I was taught every time a friend referred to themselves as fat or a family member said they looked awful or someone else I knew displayed a complete lack of confidence. After all, that’s not the way a person speaks about someone they love, or even someone they like.
Why do we teach children to dislike themselves? Why do we teach them that loving themselves is wrong? Why do we act as though a life spent criticising yourself is the right kind of life?
It’s the same mother that constantly speaks about diets who will wonder why her teenager has an eating disorder. It’s the same father that constantly tells his daughter how to behave who will wonder why she has no respect for herself around boys. It’s the same parent that looks at themselves and sees an ugly person staring back who will wonder why their child has no self-esteem.
Honestly, I think I loved myself for most of my life. Even the times when I wasn’t sure what was going on in my head I think I still at least liked myself. I’ve never really needed someone to teach me that and in that respect, I’m extremely lucky.
But we have to change our patterns of behaviour for the sake of youngsters who aren’t so lucky. Don’t call yourself fat in front of a child. Don’t point out your flaws with a teenager sitting nearby. At the very least, try to fake confidence for the sake of the impressionable young people around you.
Don’t spend a person’s life destroying their self-confidence only to turn around in the future and make them feel bad for not loving themselves.
David Beattie is a Wexford teenager and is a journalist, author and model with notanotheragency, writes a blog at https://laylahtalks.com and has appeared on multiple TV shows including : The Ray D'Arcy show, The Late Late show and on Vogue Williams on the Edge. For more information and awesome blog posts, check out https://laylahtalks.com