Labels, labels, everywhere. On the lining of clothes, on cartons of juice, on boxes, bottles, laptops, books, crisp packs, backpacks, knickknacks, and of course, us. So what if we are the superior species on this planet? A word or two is all it takes for us to conveniently place each other in a suffocating, meaningless, box.
Fat, slut, ugly, skinny, nigga, feminazi, homo, prude, the list is exhaustive and sadly unending. We live in an era where society is “literate”, “non-judgemental” and “receptive”. Simultaneously, we manage to come up with a list of labels for that girl wearing a crop top and shorts or the boy with streaked hair and piercings, how ironic! There is one specific aspect of this mindset that I’m addressing, which is related to our bodies.
How many people, regardless of their sex, have experienced moments wherein their physical appearance has been commented on? Perhaps somebody’s skin is too dark, perhaps they need to reduce the fat lodged between their thighs, perhaps they would look better with some makeup on? What could be worse? Actually allowing those criticisms to get to oneself, that’s where it gets worse. After that comes long hours spent examining our flawed bodies in front of the mirror, avoiding the chocolates we love so much in order to shed off those extra pounds, perhaps beefing to avoid being called a skeleton, watching countless Youtube tutorials with a makeup brush in our hands to look ‘more attractive’, the list continues!
A rather funny thing I’ve noticed from shamers is how they hide behind a curtain of ‘concern’ or ‘jesting’ to validate their words. A concern is when you are worried about health risks someone could face, not commenting on how their clothes are hanging onto them like on a hanger! Joking in private with your friends is different, pointing at them and making snide remarks isn’t funny. It’s shameful that so many of us indulge in pointing out such things about others, some of which are aspects we have no control over. How can we possibly call ourselves members of a civilised society when dark-skinned people are referred to as niggas and people are judged for not fitting into their skinny jeans?
There was a song I heard recently, and although I’ve heard countless talks about loving your body and self-love, those lyrics struck a chord with me. And here’s one thing I ask of others, strip. Strip off all those insecurities you’ve had about your looks, your physique. Strip off all the stinging remarks you may have heard from people who just couldn’t let you be. Strip off words like “fat”, “thin”, “black”, “pale”, “curvy”, “flat”, words don’t define you. Strip the makeup off your face and look at the real you in the mirror. Strip and admire those freckles on your face, the stretch marks on your thighs, the little flab on your stomach, the moles on your body, the skin that you’re in. Strip.
Self-love is a concept that I started applying very recently in my life, and for someone who always used to doubt herself and needed validation from others, it hasn’t been a piece of cake. There was a time when I would look into the mirror and continually criticize myself for having a ‘less-than-perfect’ figure and face, and if a pimple was spotted it would be equivalent to doomsday. I still freak out if I spot red boils on my face, not going to lie, but embracing my physique and loving every inch of myself is something I’ve familiarized myself with. And trust me, it feels great!