WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER
Several days ago, I found myself in a weird body shame spiral. 99% of the time, I'm pretty good about reveling in what I've got. I enjoy everything my body does—how I love, walk, eat, dance. But that day? My thighs were too squishy and my arms were too skinny and my hair was flat. Maybe ten minutes into this (tiring, boring, and profoundly unimportant) internal dialogue, some flare of self-love within pulled me out. Given the climate chaos surrounding, wasting one second worrying about my body was crazy. I am what I am right now. I'm growing, too, and changing, and in the midst of a world rife with wild beauty and deep grief, it feels like a radical act to put my body on the side of beauty. To celebrate my sensuous self and all the ways I am able to fall in love with and fight for this world.
As an environmental educator, I struggle with how to frame conversations on personal actions within the context of our sociopolitical landscape. It's hard to find a balance between the pursuit of radical policy change and the need to seed sustainable activist practices in our own lives. But I really do believe that personal and political change work in tandem. You can't have one without the other!
And that's why finding self-love rituals that feed our soul is so damn important to our work as activists. If you want to be a puppet of the fossil-fueled patriarchy, waste your incredible, life-giving, world-building brains and beauty worrying about the space between your thighs or the thickness of your hair. Capitalism's mission is to distract us from the real work that needs to be done in this world by shoving us toward navel-gazing spirals. And man, the world needs us right now.
Self-love doesn't have to be a distraction from the "real work." It can be a very important step in sustaining your work as an activist. When you strive to cut out the noise from your life—the body shaming, the self-pitying—you open up room in your world for delicious experience, co-creation, and discovery. Self-love is so often perceived as selfish; my own pursuit of self-love, however, has deepened the generosity and compassion I give to others. I'm not obsessing about my self so much and so it feels like I suddenly have a million more hours in the day to work on projects I care about with people I love.
Self-love is a process. I'm still fumbling my way through, figuring out which rituals work for me (essential oils, hiking, journaling) and which don't. But it's a process that I am coming to appreciate is as integral to my activism as voting in local elections and coordinating low-waste living workshops.
I hope you take the time this week to do something that makes you feel loved and loving. Maybe it's treating yourself to an especially luscious cuppa herbal tea or staying in bed all Saturday morning reading books. Whatever it is, do it, wholeheartedly and in the faith that the love we give to ourselves translates to the love we give to this world.