Love yourself this Valentine’s day

In a climate of constant comparison, it can be hard work to convince ourselves that we – and that includes you – are worthy beneficiaries of our own adoration. As the weeks roll by in lockdown like a sadistic game of ‘spot the difference’, by default – either out of necessity or sheer boredom – we’re playing out our days on the big bad web. 

I think the meme goes something like “we’re scrolling on our little screens, while relaxing in front of the big screen, after working all day on the medium screen.” Ofcourse, this isn’t the case for everyone, but virtually all of us have had to shift some element of our lives online in the past year, whether that be our work, our workouts or our weekly Sainsbury’s shop.

Although Zoom fatigue, quiz distress and banana bread boredom all seem to be forming an internet-phobic fog over the landscape of our leisure time, there’s one emblem of online life that we’ve always allowed to obscure our vision – the ‘ideal’ woman.

This constant pursuit of perfection is perpetuated by our consumption of ‘movie reel’ content on social media. How hard is it to be satisfied with your schedule of serious scrolling, when Serena and Sally are incessantly throwing it back to the sexy outfits they wore to dinner in the Seychelles in ‘16, or friends from school are fighting for Facebook likes with selfies in good lighting or, wait, that must be a filter?

“Self-love is a revolutionary act. In a society that is constantly telling you who to be and what to be, loving yourself as you are is beyond imaginable.” — Vanessa Pardo

I’m not saying that the internet’s a bad place – after all, it’s brought us Bernie’s mittens and Marcus Rashford’s lunchtime lobbying and priceless parish council meetings – but we must go into this relationship with our eyes firmly open. I choose the ‘getting changed out of pyjamas makes me work harder’ hill as one I’m to die on and really, there’s no harm in a little peacocking on your Friday work calls. Looking my best makes me feel good, even if that means merely brushing my hair (rare).

“‘Beauty’ is a currency system like the gold standard… In assigning value to women in a vertical hierarchy according to a culturally imposed physical standard, it is an expression of power relations in which women must unnaturally compete for resources that men have appropriated for themselves.” ― Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

Spending time on yourself and looking good isn’t just a form of virtual voyeurism, it’s an invaluable opportunity to show your own fine self some love. Self care doesn’t mean striving to reach society’s set of beauty standards, it means nourishing and enriching your skin, mind and body to focus solely on you for a moment. 

So, this Valentine’s Day – whether you’re spending time with a loved one, or averting your eyes from all the heart-shaped pizzas (and… sausages) on your exotic excursion to the British aisles (Lidl for me) –  bag yourself a treat, put up your feet and be kind to the most important person in your life.

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