If you’ve been struggling with self-love lately, here are a few things I’ve tried recently that have had really good results for me.
Being gentle with everyone
Like Leslie Knope reframing her town’s citizen’s screaming at her as “people caring loudly AT me”, I can usually find a way to look at something differently so that it fits with the way I see the world.
It sounds super uptight but one thing I am trying to work on lately is when I feel a spark of dislike for someone, to think a little bit about them until I can sense their humanness. Like, if someone is being annoying online, I look at their feed and find a place they’ve talked about something they struggle with. It’s very annoying to make myself do this in the moment but overall it has helped me establish more of a “gentle” mood in my own head, which pays off when something happens and I want to be mean to myself. Being nice to others and practicing looking for the humanity in someone helps me be nice to myself and reframe the automatic negative thoughts I’ve always dealt with when anything goes wrong.
Wearing more lingerie, Wearing less ‘real’ bras
I just honestly can’t be bothered to wear a bra anymore.
I know the conventional wisdom is that girls with big boobs like me need support more than anyone but TBH??? I don’t care. I feel so more more comfortable in a bralette. The straps don’t fall down. I’m not adjusting myself constantly. I feel cute. I have a casual vibe in general. So whether or not this is the ideal aesthetic (i.e. “flattering”) for me I’m embracing it because above all, it makes me feel good.
The decision to pretty much permanently stop wearing real bras came this year when I started getting really into lingerie. I’ve always loved it — the frilly, girly stuff especially. But lately buying nice things that have no purpose (I’m single and I’m not buying them for a specific guy) but to make me feel good feels so luxurious and like the height of self-care. Bralettes are so comfy and they just fit my boobs better than putting them in some weird prefashioned cup shape.
I love being able to pick out a lingerie “outfit” for a special occasion or knowing that whatever comes up, I have a super classy under layer on that makes me feel confident and sexy and like I’m living my best life. Being low key dressed up via lingerie makes me feel creative and powerful and really comfortable in my own skin.
Looking at vintage naked ladies
A weird thing that’s been very helpful for me is following the subreddit r/oldschoolcoolnsfw which is mostly old porn images of women and occasionally old nude candids someone found somewhere. At first I was just curious about what used to pass for porn, but the images, despite being nudes, aren’t usually super sexual. They mostly just show off the way other decades aesthetics differ from ours.
And suprisingly, this has helped me feel a lot more confident.
When you remove the current trends from what you’re looking at, I think you can see it more clearly. These objectively beautiful women wouldn’t be stunning by today’s standards, but you can also see that they are clearly beautiful. It puts into perspective how much styling and trends play a part in what we each find sexy.
What really sticks out as a “good” picture here is when the woman is authentically happy. The women who are smiling and laughing look so cool and so sexy, even in ridiculously outdated clothing (and outdated pubic hair trimming practices). It helps me see my own body in what feels like a more natural way, comparing myself to slightly more “real” bodies than what I see anywhere else.
It also helps me practice seeing “sexy” from other people’s perspectives. I can understand how the ladies of yore were sex symbols even if they personally look corny to me. That helps me apply the same thinking to myself, “maybe I feel I don’t look cute here, but this is how someone who was into me would experience this same look.”
I also feel like I belong to the super cool woman-wide sorority of women who take their clothes off behind closed doors and have beautiful interesting lives and attentive lovers they write poetry about while smoking joints in a Valley of the Dolls nightie.
A super weird clip from ‘Shahs of Sunset’
Shahs of Sunset isn’t a show I follow closely but I know the gist of it because I love Bravo in general. I started paying more attention after having a fling w a middle eastern guy because their culture and friendships are really interesting despite them coming from different places and having different religions.
On the surface level, it’s just another show about superficial rich people who all have the same aesthetic. One of the characters, Mike Shouhed, pretty much plays the douchey hot guy who is trying to find his trophy Persian wife. On this years reunion, he said if he could pick anyone’s body, he’s most attracted to women like his castmate MJ.
This was super interesting to me because her body imo is incredible and I immediately understand what he finds sexy about it. However, I’m so used to people, especially someone so concerned with trends and appearances as Mike, only wanting a woman who is thin and curvy as that’s what our cultural standard for sexy is right now.
It was really cool to hear someone super shallow affirm his interest in a body that looks closer to mine than I ever would have expected from him.
I understand that this is a pretty weird list of helpful things, but that should help you understand how they were effective for me, because they came out of nowhere. They were things that naturally sparked a feeling of confidence for me, that helped me understand what it’d be like to live in a world where I assumed other people appreciated me physically for who I am, as uniquely beautiful as everyone else. I hope you are all populating your own lists of random things that inspire joy in you. Please share them with me!