F.L.Y (First Love Yourself)

(This post is meant for many young girls whom I know hate themselves and their bodies.)

Way back in February 1990 when Photoshop 1.0 was shipped to its first customer, the Knoll brothers, Steve Guttman and Russel Brown along with Adobe’s creative team looked at it as the programme to help process digital images, the gray scales levels of which Macs could not display. After 6 versions (2.0 – 7.0) the 8th version, Photoshop CS, was released in 2003 and has had 5 more in the series – till C6. The latest version, CC, was released in June 2013.

I delved into the history of Photoshop when I came across two links which laid threadbare how the advertising industry is exploiting human bodies to earn billions in profit for themselves and their clients. They make us buy the products and try new ones over and over again. And the byproduct of it all is the mindless objectification and commodification of women which has led to a lot of other disastrous effects including the abject loss of self-esteem in many young and even old people. It would be wrong to say only women are affected by it – men are too because they expect women to be like in those chic ads. Needless to say it has engineered a vicious circle.

Many young people implicitly believe what they see in ads and posters, films and videos – curvaceous models, fair and lovely skin, lustrous long hair, all the other beautifully seductive parts of the human body. For the old, it is a desperate attempt to regain their lost youth. No one realizes that there is a great deal of difference between what they see in those visuals, digital and in print and what is real – and that there is a great deal of manipulation taking place. Did you know that almost 100% of the pictures of models that you see are altered???

Ah, and it is Photoshop that enhances the quality of these images with its sharpening tools, softening skin tools and also those that create high contrast portraits. Take a look at this image to see how changes are effected. And the result, beautifully sculpted bodies, fairest of ‘fair’ and flawless skins – dreams of many a person, young and old!

The saddest thing is that many young people hate their bodies and have very low self-esteem. They think their bodies are far from what is touted to be beautiful and desirable. This eats into them and each day they lose their confidence. Without self-esteem and confidence they become fragile individuals, ready to hurt themselves and others; and even kill themselves. They hate their bodies and are constantly comparing their body with that of these models. They diet and starve to get ‘zero’ size figures – the result: eating disorders like Bulimia and Anorexia. Thus the effects are two-fold – physiological and psychological.

Today beauty parlours are big time business. Endless hours are spent before the mirror. Thousands of rupees are spent on beautifying activities and cosmetics. Much more money is spent by the rich on Botox, nose jobs and silicone implants various other surgical procedures. Beautifying the body and preserving it is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Feeling good about oneself is one thing – but being obsessed by that alone is sure to drag one’s life into a quagmire of ‘pining for what is naught’. The stereotypes generated through these ads of how a woman or a man ought to be for that matter has only degraded human beings, bringing out the worst in them. It is high time that we see through the profit-making ploys of burgeoning global beauty business.

It pays to watch this Youtube video:

Girls, love your body, just the way it is. Make peace with it. This is what your parents bequeathed you and embrace it lovingly. When you do that, you will find a metamorphosis within and outside you. You look at life in new light and say – Life is Beautiful! We owe this to ourselves!!

I love this Mark Sterling quote: “If you want to Soar in Life, you must learn to F.L.Y. First Love Yourself.”


Loving Yourself – The How To

When I wrote my earlier post on Loving Myself – Is is Vanity or Necessity and shared it on my FB page, a former student commented that it would be good to learn about the “how to” also. Therefore this post. I hasten to add that all these are tried and tested ways when I went through a “low self esteem” phase.

(I hope this is useful, Swati.)  

1. Discover yourself.

Ask yourself these questions: Do you know yourself well? What are your strong points? What are the areas where you have developmental needs? Write them all in a private journal. The more you know about yourself, the better you can accept yourself.

2. Smile often.

Research says that one uses less facial muscles to smile and more to frown. Therefore smile should come to us easily and naturally. It is not for nothing there is this saying that exhorts one to smile, for ‘it adds to one’s face value.’  Smiles beget smiles and what an amount of happy cheerful energy surrounds you! This is the most positive aspect of smiles. They are like sunshine – life giving and radiating.

3. Cultivate acceptance.

You are what you are physically. Technology has advanced so much that there are costly quick fixes like Botox or tummy tucks and the like to enhance one’s body image. It is also worth remembering that such alteration comes with heavy prices – the actual cost factor and the after effects that can be even life threatening. Look at yourself in the mirror and lovingly tell yourself “I love my … “ (fill it with every body part from head to toe). Look at yourself with new eyes. What a marvel you are thanks to each and every invisible part in your body! Take the case of your heart – it does the job silently. Should it stop, we cease to exist. But have we ever thanked our heart for keeping us alive? Our legs, for taking us from place to place? This exercise of thanking each and every part of our body will help us with not only acceptance but also fill us with gratitude.

4. Learn from mistakes.

Society abhors the ‘F’ word – failure I mean. Historically educators as well as adults have created a climate that does not encourage errors. Failure is pictured as a bottomless abyss from which pupils / people can never come out. No wonder then that many young teens are hope-less and despondent even before they have entered the brave new adult world. Whether it is homework, test taking, making friends or playing games, learning is enriched through making mistakes. It is here that a parent /mentor/educator can play a vital role – encourage all even when they make mistakes. This will prompt them to try again and not give up in despair.

5. Be kind & positive to yourself.

Many cannot forgive the lapses they make or that of others. Research says that ruminating about the past and about mistakes committed releases so many negative emotions and expressions, increase cardiac reactivity and impair the body’s parasympathetic calming response. Compassion and forgiveness on the other hand generate a host of positive emotions and responses, giving the body comfort, control and the right social orientation. So, it is worth letting go of bitterness and grudges. The moment you do that you stop being and acting like a victim. More importantly, forgive your own trespasses. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and say, “I forgive myself for——.” Another technique is to write a letter to your own self about the transgression. Burn it (be careful and prevent accidents of fire). This is symbolic of burning the thoughts of guilt and being reborn from its ashes, like the proverbial phoenix.

6. Silence the inner critic in you.

Is your negative self with its nonstop chatter, chiding you at each and every step? Stop this; else it will kill your self-confidence, and leave you at the very edge of depression and anxiety. Such an inner critic is all about the past and looks for blame. Replace that which beats you up with something new that will make you feel good – something constructive, positive. Accept your imperfections and be grateful that you are you and not anyone else. Remember it is perfectly ok to not be perfect.

7. Affirmations – use them lavishly.

“I live in the present, here and now.”
“I am very contented and happy.”
“I am fit and healthy.”
“I am me, I am ok.”

Words are expressions of thought and repeated positive and fostering expressions send positive vibrations to the Universe and make thoughts happen. So use suitable affirmations to develop love for yourself.

8. Look after your Body.

Eat healthy. Nurture it with proper nutrition and exercise. Treat it with utmost respect and care. Nourish it with Love. Very often many body image issues occur because the body lacks love and care.

9. Stay away from the comparison trap.

Can you ever compare apples with oranges? Each has its unique features. Never compare yourself with others. Comparing results in judging and leads to resentment, hatred. It evokes either inferiority or superiority, besides a host of other negative, damaging feelings. How do you stop comparing? Count your blessings! Focus on your positives, your strengths. To love yourself is to stop comparing.

10. Journal and plot your shift.

This is a highly reflective and effective exercise. Look at the good and the bad / the high and the low of each day. Jot it down in a private diary. It is an amazing stress buster and helps to release all pent up emotions. The consequent reflection empowers you by clearing your mind and giving you focus. When life hits unprecedented lows of change, hurt, loss and pain, journal writing can detoxify and heal. It can be an observation journal or the very effective gratitude journal.

So, there we are – love yourself first. When nobody celebrates or compliments you, learn to do them to yourself. Learn to enjoy your own company. The more you like yourself, the less you will want the lives of other people. The more the encouragement comes from within you, the more wholesome you will be. And the more wholesome you are, the more you will love yourself!




Loving Myself – Is it Vanity or Necessity??

From childhood most of us Indians are taught to love others. Show consideration for others. Even at the cost of harming ourselves, we do that to the T. Yet many a time we are never taught to love ourselves. Loving oneself is such a wholesome thing to do; yet, it is branded as being selfish. Why is it so?

For starters I look up the thesaurus for a synonym for self-love; I find a number of words all of which have a negative connotation. Look at this visual thesaurus below and you’ll understand what I mean!

Some other synonyms are words bordering egoism, self centeredness, pride and vanity! No, these are not words that I am looking for. Plain love and liking for oneself which will give each one of us tremendous boost of self esteem. A feel-good pill. The harmless and free  medicine to combat vexation and depression.

Everyday I come across young people who hate themselves because they are not like someone else. They have poor self image because they think that they are not like zero size models. They believe that they are a cursed lot because they are not as “fair” “shapely” or “beautiful” as say, glamorous actresses. How should we handle this situation, as parents and as teachers?

The secret lies in developing a sense of self worth in these young minds. Listen to them and their plaints. Patiently talk to them about loving themselves as they are. Personality is about character and one’s inner self and not the peripherals. The bottom line is to help them learn to enjoy their own company. The more they like themselves, the less they will want the lives of other people; be like other people.

For if you can’t love or like yourself, how can others love or like you???

Reference: http://thesaurus.com/browse/self-love?s=t