I’ve discussed before how in the movement for self-love, it is incredibly easy to fall in the trap of believing that you are a failure if you can’t love yourself, so you carry the shame of not only wishing your body was different, but also failing to love it the way everybody tells you that you should. (Read: you don’t have to love yourself)
In her speech during the Essence Black Women in Hollywood event, Tracee Ellis Ross brings up another trap we often fall into, the pursuit of perfection. Even if you have successfully abandoned the idea that your body only deserves love if it looks a certain way, it’s likely that you’ve adopted a new obsession, which is the perfect journey to self-love. You probably imagine a journey to self-love is littered with post-it notes a la Mary-Jane, where you write affirmations to encourage yourself. You imagine that you will wake up every day madly in love with yourself, passing the mirror on your way to the shower and whispering to yourself “Damn I’m hot”. You imagine you’ll finally be able to have sex with the lights on. That you wont cringe when your partner caresses your love handles and kisses your thunder thighs. You imagine that shopping will no longer be a source of depression when you can’t find that cute top in your size. You imagine you will no longer make a fish face to see what you could look like if your cheeks weren’t so full.
But Ms. Ross wants you to know that being human is incredibly messy. Don’t be discouraged when things don’t look the way you imagined, but learn to make space for yourself. Learn to give room to your entire experience including the parts you don’t like, the ones you want to hide, the once that make you feel ashamed. There is so much beauty in your struggle. It’s so messy, it’s not perfect, it’s sometimes heartbreaking, but it can be uplifting, elightening, and yes beautiful.
So let’s get messy together. “Perfect is not the Goal”
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.